Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi at Indipex

Dear Gandhi Philatelists,

Further to Mr.Ketan Patel’s blog-post about Gandhi exhibits and issues at Indipex, I am presenting here a first-hand account of Gandhi related Philatelic activity at Indipex. I attended the show on all 7 days, and will try to give you a complete picture of Gandhi Philately at Indipex under various heads.

a) Khadi Stamp:

Probably the most-awaited Gandhi philatelic item in recent times, the special commemorative Khadi Stamp went on sale on day 1 (12th February 2011) after HE Pratibha Patil, the President of India, released it in the morning.

The stamp, as part of a miniature sheet and of denomination Rs.100, was sold in a Presentation pack for Rs.250. Both these amounts were mentioned on the pack. No FDC or Information brochure was separately issued, though a commemorative postmark was available.

The stamp design and the entire Miniature sheet are very appealing. This was the first time a Gandhiji was honoured Philatelically on a stamp made of cloth. Bhutan has earlier issued a plastic material based stamp on the Mahatma in 1972 (

There was frentic activity at the sale counter, with people lining up in long queues to get their hands on the Khadi stamp. Indiapost streamlined the sales by creating 3 counters – one for cash sales, one for payment based on bookings made online, and the 3rd for delivery of prepaid bookings. Those paying at counter 2 had to then queue up again in counter 3 to collect their packs.

As no FDC was issued, a dealer had prepared 1000 FDCs for this issue keeping the size of the Miniature Sheet in mind. The blank FDCs were being sold for Rs.200. Many collectors were content with pasting the Khadi stamp on the Presentation pack itself and getting it FDCancelled there, as the pack is an official issue.

All in all, the Khadi stamp was definitely one of the highlights of the grand Indipex show, and the Bapu proved that he is still a huge draw in Philatelic circles!

Other country Gandhi issues:

1) Bangladesh:

Bangladesh utilized the occasion of Indipex to come out with a set of 3 commemorative stamps on Gandhiji. These stamps depict his time in the East Bengal region (Noakhali, etc.), now in Bangladesh. The 3 stamps were being sold for Rs.50, and the miniature sheet, which has 2 sets of the same stamps, for Rs.100.

The Gandhi stamps sold like hot cakes, but it still seemed that the postal authorities had lot of stocks left with them! The case of the FDC was not such, and the limited number that they had brought with them were sold out on day 1/2.

On 15th February (Day 4), the Bangladesh stall started issuing a stall-date cancellation with Gandhiji as the artwork. To capitalize on the unavailability of the FDCs, an enterprising dealer printed a set of 3 covers and placed his bag in close proximity to the stall. Collectors were seen purchasing these covers (for Rs.50 each, so set of 3 for Rs.150), then purchasing the Bangladesh stamps, and affixing the stall-cancellation on the covers. Interestingly, the covers had no connection to the Bangladesh issue. It had some pictures of Gandhi stamps and coins, and could be thus used as a multipurpose cover. Why there was so much interest in them is beyond my understanding!

Collectors were also seen to be purchasing the Rs.5 Indipex exhibition common special cover and using that to get the Bangladesh Gandhi stamps + Special cancellation.

2) IGPC issues:

IGPC, the stamp-issuing authority for a group of countries, came out with a bouquet of Gandhi issues from countries like Antigua, St.Vincent, Tuvalu, etc.

b) Mahatma Gandhi Exhibits:

There were a total of 6 Gandhi collections exhibited, one under the Traditional category, while the other exhibits were under the Thematic category.

It was quite a learning experience for me going through these exhibits in detail. I found many interesting and unique items on display. Some which I can recall are:

1) Rs.10 Service – 3 examples among these 6 exhibits!

2) Colour Trials and Artist Proof of Morocco issue

3) GB Artist Proof and Imperf

4) 1948 1.5 Annas President Camp PO – 3 varieties

5) Communal Harmony slogan in Urdu

and many more. But the Pièce de résistance was undoubtedly the IndiaPost frames under the Court of Honour Section. Complete Service sheets of all the 4 stamps of the 1948 Memorial issue were on display, as were the colour trials of the same. It was a delight and visual treat for any Gandhi Philatelist!

c) Sale of Gandhi material:

Gandhi material featured prominently among the sales at Indipex. Starting from the Khadi stamp, there was never a dearth in sales. The 1948 Memorial FDC reached unimaginable heights of being sold at over Rs.1.25 lakh at the auction held during the exhibition. Other 1948 material was also being sold at sky-high prices.

Cristoph Gaertner Auctions, which occupied 2 stalls at Indipex, has a lot of rare Gandhi stuff lined up for its forthcoming sale.

A foreign dealer had brought huge quantities of fake/Cinderella Gandhi issues of Davaar Island and Sanda Island. The former set of 3 Gold-foil stamps was priced at Rs.150, with the higher value completing the set for Rs.1200. The Sanda Island Picture changing “stamp block of 4” was sold for Rs.40. Good volumes of both these were sold, despite the fact that none of them have any postal validity or genuineness! In fact, the dealer was at a loss of words when asked where exactly the 2 places were located!

d) Press Coverage:

There were a lot of newspaper articles preceding Indipex, and they mostly focused on the Centenary of the 1st Airmail. On the inaugural day (12th February 2011), Mint, the Business Daily of Hindustan Times and the exclusive partner of Wall Street Journal (WSJ), carried a cover story about Philately. They covered 3 collectors across India, and I feature among them for my Gandhi collection. You can read it online at:

Also, on 30th January 2011 (Bapu’s Martyrdom Day), Times of India did a story on Gandhi Philately featuring my collection. It can be read online on my site:

Thanks, and please do share your experiences at Indipex related to Gandhi Philately with us.

Nikhil Mundra
19th March 2011


  1. An excellent and realistic presentation of events on Gandhiji at Indipex 2011.
    Thanks, Cdr G.Sriramarao,I.N(Retd)

  2. Hello Sir,

    Thanks for your kind comments.

    Nikhil Mundra

  3. Hello Mr.Maulik,

    Thanks a lot for your encouraging comments.

    Nikhil Mundra