* Punya R. Sthapit
Today postage stamp has become a very common item for all from a layman to learned ones all over the world. That may be because usage of postage stamp is quite simple.
Nepalese stamps are also gaining popularity. The growing number of foreign philatelists as Nepalese stamps-lovers is a testimony to this.
Professor Dr. Kun Hoo Rhee, a Korean Senior Psychiatrist, is among such foreign philatelists who are interested in Nepalese stamps.
Dr. Rhee owns an art gallery in Korea and has deep interest in mountains, bio-diversity and paintings. He has already been an important figure in bridging Korean and Nepalese people.
He exhibited Nepal’s stamps from his collection at the hall of Nepal Association of Fine Arts (NAFA) at Bal Mandir, Naxal, Kathmandu from 5th to 15 Jan 2010. His style of exhibition looked unique. He kept the stamps inside transparent bags one by one and on the floor with various items focusing realistic figures / items.
Prof Rhee has also two books-- The Spirits of Himalaya and Nepal stamp icon and Short Essays about Nepal in his credit.
When foreigners like Rhee are interested in Nepalese postal stamps, the locals as well as the government authorities have done little to promote philatelic activities in Nepal.
If we look at the history, we find that the postal service in Nepal began from 1875 AD from Kathmandu to Gorkha, Pokhara and Palpa. Three years after it, the Post Office was established in 1878 (1935 BS).
In April 1978, the nation celebrated the Postal Centenary Year. This was also the New Year day of 2035 BS. On that occasion, two commemorative stamps of 25 paisa and 75 paisa were issued. The stamp designed by Mr. Kanchha K. Karmacharya clearly displayed the pictures of "Nepal Hulak Ghar" (the GPO building) and the date of Nepal’s first postal mark.
Regarding the postal history of Nepal, the first issues released on 13 April 1881 cost 1 anna (blue), 2 anna (brown) and 4 anna (green). They were of the European woven native papers in both perforate and imperforate conditions. The perforate stamp has its border-holes and the imperforate is without border-hole.
The number of post offices went on increasing from the 47 post offices of 1938 BS to 116 in 1959. In 1882 their numbers stood at 82, in 1950 they further increased to 85 and 102 in 1958 BS. Currently, the number of the post offices in Nepal stands at 3996, according to a Postal Department bulletin, Annual Report 2006.
In 1887, the British Embassy set up its own post office. The name got changed into the Post Office of the Indian Embassy after India got independency in 1947. Later, it was closed in 1965.
In 1963, postal relation was established with Pakistan. On 13 April 1965 (2023 Baisak 1), Foreign Post Office along with International Parcel Services were established in Kathmandu. The opening day of the both offices was the first day of Baishakh, the New Year according to Bikram era. Six months after of the event, the International Exchange Office with Tibet, China, at Kodari (Nepal) was established on 19 October 1965. On the same day of the New Year, the postal mail service was initiated in between Nepal and the United Kingdom.
Nepal’s First philatelic exhibition at Lain Chour, Kathmandu was inaugurated by the then Crown Prince, Birendra Bir Bikram Shah. That historic exhibition was the most significant event of Nepal’s philatelic history. Then a 15 paisa commemorative stamp was issued. The stamp was triangular in shape, second after 12 paisa stamp issued on 14 Dec 1956 on the occasion of the Nepal’s entry in the UN.
The postal stationery, a branch of philately includes all the items of postcards / letter-cards, envelopes, registered envelopes, aerogramme, postal wrappers for news papers and magazines. Besides the postage stamps, the dignity of the philately deserves along with the postal stationeries.
The world’s first postcard was introduced by Austria. The world’s first postal stationery item deserves its identity. Nepal’s First Postcard of vermilion colour was introduced in 1887.
The first envelope (of 4 paisa) of green colour was brought out in 1933. The first registered envelope, 27 paisa, of orange colour was issued in 1936.
First aerogramme, 8 paisa of blue colour was introduced on 15 April 1959. Its two varieties are with and without the symbol of Garudas, the bird, at its four corners. Mint or unused copy without Swastika mark has become very rare in Nepal.