Our Rarity of the Month article takes a closer look at our latest Private Treaty offering, which is a collection of the 1854 India First Issue Half Anna Blue and One Anna Red. It is a specialised study attractively and knowledgeable mounted and written up on sixty-eight pages, showing the 1/2a blue on sixty pages and the 1a red on eight pages. 

Price on Request.

The following is a detailed description the contents of the collection:

Half Anna Blue: The 1/2a section of the collection is presented on sixty pages and shows some 150 items with 135 singles, six used pairs, unused inscriptional sheet marginal block of four, two used strips of four and six singles on covers. The basis of the 1/2a study lies in the retouches or touched ups. These are well illustrated throughout the collection via enlarged images or hand drawn designs. Examples of these show retouches or touched ups to the EYE, SOLID EYE, HOLLOW EYE, HAIR ON FOREHEAD, NOSTRIL, KISS CURL, CHIN, redrawn ‘N’ in ANNA etc. with in many cases the sheet positions have been annotated on the pages.

Additionally a range of plate impressions and plate wear including sharp early impression, intermediate impression, over-inked, worn, worn over-inked, slightly worn, late print etc. It must also be stated that throughout the collection the knowledge of the collector shines through as there is extensive annotation of the various different dies and stones of every stamp.


One Anna Red: The 1a of the collection is presented on eight pages and shows some twenty-one singles, one unused and twenty used, plus one used pair. The bases of the 1a study lies in the retouches or touched up examples especially of the EYE and the LABEL.

Condition: The condition overall is generally fine to very fine, some stamps showing touched to close margins, however many with good to very large margins, including sheets marginal examples and four from position 1 with corner ornaments.

Provenance: Many of these stamps have emanated from famous collections such as Desai and most certainly others.

It is a wonderful study for the connoisseur and an excellent basis for expansion and developments into an important collection of these popular first issues of India (172 items in total).


Meanwhile, here’s an article that gives an insight on what makes these two humble, yet important stamps, so fascinating and sought after…..

The Character of “Anna”

You might be surprised to learn there’s several websites dedicated to ranking the most famous ‘Anna’ in the world. As you’d expect these include actresses, singers, sports stars, writers, famous wives, royalty and even a serial killer. What you won’t be surprised to hear is despite scouring all the lists available on the internet there was not ‘One’ or even ‘Half’ an 1854 India ‘Anna’ to be found. Admittedly, the blue Half Anna, and the Red One Anna, perhaps are not the most famous of the India Annas, but these attractive little postal adhesives were among the first India postage stamps produced which were valid throughout the whole of country – the earliest India stamps being the Scinde Dawks used in the Province of Scinde (now Pakistan) in 1852.

However, what our blue and red ‘Annas’ lack in fame and notoriety they make up for in character and heritage, which in the world of philately, is far more enduring and satisfying than the fickle realm of celebrity and fortune. Although, there is one quality our India Anna stamps share with the famous Annas and that is when they do make an appearance in public they cause quite a stir and captivate any given audience lucky enough to be graced with their presence. You see, for reasons of availability we find that today Anna, whether that be Half or One, just do not turn-up in significant numbers that often. So, with such a gathering in one place what is on show?

Firstly, we mention not an Anna but a Henry, who is the father if you like of these stamps and gets his name immortalised in the bottom margin of the sheets.  In 1854 one Captain at the Lithographic Office of the survey department in India, got the job of printing India’s first nationwide postage stamps. That was a chap called Captain Henry Landor Thuillier (1813 to 1906) who was Surveyor General of India and whose claim to fame is that under his tenureship 796,928 square miles of India were surveyed, including tricky mountainous regions, forest areas, and desert landscapes, and it has to be said were plotted for the first time.

He was knighted in 1879 for his undeniable achievements in India, but crucially on the bottom of the sheets of these stamps, there is inscribed; “Lithographed under the superintendence of Captain H. L. Thuillier, by H. M. Smith, of the Surveyor-General’s Office.” This is noted and illustrated on one of the pages in particular, the rarer One Anna, Die II, in an aspect which presents contrasting shades and a stunning large four margin example (94) – actually shows “CAPT. N.L.THUI”.

Having paid homage to the production, the early printings of the Half Anna, whether from Die I, Stone A or B, come in a variety of appearances, from full and brightly inked shades, to under and over inked, and manifest intriguing plate wear. If you look closely at some of these examples, occasionally if you are fortunate, in the top north corners of stamps you can observe part of the ‘Corner Ornament’ which comes in two different types, but the place, either top left or top right, enabling not just the precise place the stamp occupied on the sheet to be determined, but also which particular ornament is featured – Type I or Type II. Even with these distinguishing features or without, there are other characteristics which can be studied such as varieties to the lettering of Anna, and flaws to various parts of the frames and portrait, including hair lines, nose, head, chin and eye. Cosmetic retouches are as much a part of the life of our Half and One Anna, as facelifts and botox are to the rich and famous Annas mentioned above, but unlike our celebrities these flaws and blemishes are a natural aspect of their existence and are celebrated on the pages of this study.

Another innate facet of this study is the appearance of multiples, and not just couples, as might be the case in the world of fame, but strips of four and a block of four with the marginal inscription. This benefits the connoisseur in more ways than the glamour because their features – facial, frame or background – can be compared as well as any beautification undertaken on later printings, meaning it is possible to portray the flaws alongside the retouches.

And there is one famous individual caught up in the pages of this research and that is a philatelist known as “Desai”, who was a famous and wealthy Indian businessman, Chunnilal Devkaran Nanjee (1890—1956), and a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London, who formed a world-class collection of India, one of the items featured coming from this collection, which sold in a Robson Lowe auction in 1949 – more than 900 lots.

Of course all this is eloquently described and narrated for the philatelist to appreciate and marvel at, and unlike our famous Anna which is ranked on multiple websites, our little blue and red Annas are full of character and history are found on a single site at David Feldman SA, for you to scour and rank while the collection is on show. There is no telling how long this gathering of Annas will be available, and indeed when the next time such an assembly is put on show.   

Price on Request.