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Telegraph stamps of the World

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  I have had to re-number these due to a missing set, though leaving references to the original designations.  
I have now brought the prices up to date and added currency selection.
The new designations have 'RH' numbers (Revised Hiscocks) to avoid confusion.

A catalogue of these has been recommended to me entitled:
A Catalogue of Telegraph and Revenue Stamps for Burma and Myanmar
( 1895-1997 - by Alan Meech and Gerald Davis : ISBN 0-96817997-0-3 )

This seems to be hard to find, but I have been sent a photocopy of most of Part 5,
that on the telegraph stamps.

CheckList         Setup


From 1824 until April 1937, this area was part of British India. On 1 April 1937, it became a separate administration as British Burma. It was invaded in World War II by the Japanese from 1942 until 1945. It became independent in 1948 as the Union of Burma, choosing not to become a member of the Commonwealth. It became the Union of Myanmar in 1989.
16 Annas = 1 Rupee
100 Pyas = 1 Kyat (= 1 Rupee) from 1953




Steve Hiscocks wrote in 1982:
'British' Burma was administered as part of India, and its telegraph service came under the Indian Government Telegraph Department between 1855 and (apart from Japanese Occupation) independence on 4 January 1948.

Up to 1860, Indian fiscal papers were presumably used, as reportedly in India, and from then until 1910 ordinary Indian Telegraph stamps were used without special overprints. I have not listed these separately under Burma, as I have for Ceylon, because nearly all of them were so used and it would amount to a repeat of the India section. Use in Burma can only be deduced from the cancellations which are similar in type to those used in India but for Burmese locations such as Rangoon, Akyab, Mandalay, etc. Also known is a double oval cancellation with 'Govt. Telegraph Department' and 'Tavoy Siam Line' top and bottom respectively and 'CAMP OFFICE' and 'Date ....' inside the inner oval — about 52 x 28mm overall. In later years the Indian type 'G.T.O.' circular date stamps were used and these can also be found on unsevered single head issues as for India. Prices would be about double those for used in India. Unused are of course, not identifiable as having been sold in Burma.

There is no evidence of the use of the first Indian 'Electric Telegraph' stamps in Burma although they would presumably been valid there (India Nos. 1–3). The Madras and Bombay provisionals of 1881–2 are unlikely to have reached Burma but the Calcutta issues (Nos. 21–26) may have done so, although evidence is lacking. All later stamps were used with the possible exception of the 2R provisional of 1900 on the Foreign Bill (No. 54 of India).

From 1910 to the issue of the first specifically Burmese telegraph stamps in 1946, Indian or, later, Burmese postage stamps were used.

Dates of issue of the three issues of Burmese telegraph stamps are not known for certain although that of the first issue will probably be discoverable from the pre-independence Burma government files (kept at the India Office in London), when time permits. The British Civil Administration took over from the Military Administration on 1 January 1946, and handed over to the Interim Government on 1 October 1947. Independence followed on 4 January 1948. The first issues are thought to have been issued on or around 1 October 1946, under the British Civil Administration. No telegraph stamps of this issue (other than the new currency provisionals) are known overprinted for service use. Burma changed from Indian currency to 100 Pyas = 1 Kyat (equal to the old Rupee) in 1953, and the seven Telegraph stamps were overprinted with their new currency equivalent values and 'Service' in Burmese characters. These provisionals are not known without the 'Service' overprint and were presumably, like the later service stamps only available to Government Departments directly from Treasury and not to the public from Post or Telegraph Offices.

In 1954 a new series of similar design was brought out in the new currency. All but two of these were also issued as service stamps and, unusually, a different value 5 pyas) was issued only as a service stamp. The use of telegraph stamps ceased on 1 October 1961, putting them among the last specifically telegraph stamps in the world. Postage stamps were used thereafter.

In use the stamps were simply stuck on the telegraph forms which were checked by the Telegraph Authorities, filed, and eventually destroyed. It seems that few ever came into the hands of collectors and indeed very few collectors have, until recently, been aware of their existence.

There is, at the time of writing, not enough information on availability to justify the setting of prices for these stamps but they are rare mint and very rare used.

My notes:
I have added images of some used stamps, added pricing, and also added a new set, the first Official stamp series.

The catalogue by Alan Meech and Gerald Davis referenced above has an interesting snippet on page 52 that says (referring to an illustration):
"Letter from Burmese wartime government in exile at Simla to the Burma Office in
London, asking for royal approval of the design of proposed telegraph stamps. This
initiative led to the publication of the first Burma telegraph stamps in 1946.

Note that no 4 annas denomination telegraph stamp (a photograph of which
appears on the document) has ever been seen.


1946 (1 October ?) Offset-Lithographed by the Indian Government Security Press, Nasik Road on white wove paper.
Watermark multiple elephant's heads sideways. Perf. 14. Sheets of 320 (16 x 20).

Need scan H1 H2 H3
Watermark as viewed from the back. Type   1   (RH1) 1A - Mint Type   1   (RH2) 2As - Mint Type   1   (RH3) 8As - Mint


H3 H3 H3 H3
Type   1   (RH4) 12As - Mint Type   1   (RH5) 1R - Mint Type   1   (RH6) 2Rs - Mint Type   1   (RH7) 10Rs - Mint


Need scan H1 H2
Watermark as viewed from the back. Type   1   (RH1) 1A - Used Type   1   (RH2) 2As - Used


H4 used H5 used H5 used H6 used
Type   1   (RH4) 12As - Used Type   1   (RH5) 1R - Used Type   1   (RH5) 1R - Used from RL Type   1   (RH6) 2Rs - Used

Five of the set (RH1, RH2, RH4, RH5 and RH6) used (Jan 1948) with G.T.O. Indian style cancel. These are normally considered not to exist.
The procedure was for the customer to fill in the telegraph form and hand it to a clerk behind the counter. The clerk would then count the words, calculate the charge,
and collect payment from the customer. The clerk would then affix the stamps to the form, cancel them and hand a small receipt to the customer.
The telegraph form was kept in official records for 1 year and then destroyed.
Perhaps these were Cancelled by Favour, though such things normally have nice neat cancels. Alternatively, someone broke the rules.
All but the second 1R acquired from Dr Joe on ebay.

The colour of the 12As stamp is described variously in different catalogues as Bluish grey, Purple-brown, Brown-purple or greyish purple.
Certainly many of the overprinted ones have little colour in them. The truth seems to be that the early 12As stamps were a more lavender shade than later stamps.
Additionally toning of the paper may add more red to the shade.
Les Bottomley says that the first issue "was rather fuzzy to say the least and very bland to look at"
and that later in the same year there was a new clearer/sharper issue.
His illustrations show some comparisons:

The top two are his illustrations, with the left stamp having a poorer quality print. The shades are different too, though the left stamp is a little toned.
H4 early H4 later
H4 RH21
The bottom two are mine. The quality of printing is good on both but they have little colour. It is possible that the poor quality print described for the early examples was
due to poor quality, unsurfaced paper absorbing ink, with better quality of paper used later. These are reported to have been printed by Nasik Security Printing in India,
Supposedly by offset-litho. Perhaps the early ones were actually on a plain litho. machine. Anyone know more about this ?

New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH1 1 H1 1 Anna carmine-red 2.00 -
RH2 1 H2 2 Annas deep dull blue 2.00 -
RH3 1 H3 8 Annas grey green 2.00 -
RH4 1 H4 12 Annas bluish grey 2.00 -
RH5 1 H5 1 Rupee brown 3.00 -
RH6 1 H6 2 Rupees deep dull purple 4.00 -
RH7 1 H7 10 Rupees turquoise-blue 5.00 -
4As image

A 4As value was also prepared for use, but not issued. An image can be seen above.



1954 New design and new currency. Other details as above.

Need scan H8 H10
Watermark as viewed from the back. Type   2   (RH8) 1Pya Type   2   (RH10) 10Pyas


H12 H13 H15
Type   2   (RH12) 25Pyas Type   2   (RH13) 50Pyas Type   2   (RH15) 1Kyat


New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH8 2 H8 1p reddish lilac 2.50 -
RH9 2 H9 6p ? - -
RH10 2 H10 10p red-orange 2.50 -
RH11 2 H11 13p ? - -
RH12 2 H12 25p turquoise green 3.00 -
RH13 2 H13 50p dull ultramarine 3.50 -
RH14 2 H14 75p sepia - -
RH15 2 H15 1K greenish blue 6.00 -
RH16 2 H16 2K rose-carmine - -
RH17 2 H17 10K deep olive green - -

Hiscocks added the following 2 notes:

Note 1. Only those for which colours are given have been seen
                The remainder are however listed in a contemporary
                official document of the Burmese Telegraphy Office.
Note 2. Telegraph stamps were discontinued and withdrawn
                on 1 October 1961.

My note:
RH14, RH16 and RH17 are reported to have been seen by Lim Peng Hong (Rangoon) in 'The Burmese Peacock' (Vol.5,No.3, Fall 1983).
The same report includes the un-overprinted version of RH33, implying that RH9 is actually a 5p value, not 6p as thought.
I know of no reports of the existence of RH9 as a 6p value, or RH11. Can anyone provide scans of any of the missing ones ?
I have no scans of those stamps though.




1948? As Nos. 1 to 7 but overprinted with the word 'Service' in Burmese script in black.
WARNING: There are stamps with forged Official overprints (see below).

New 1A New 2A New 8A New 12A
Type 3   1A (RH18) Type 3   2A (RH19) Type 3   8A (RH20) Type 3   12A (RH21)


New 1R New 2R New 10R Forged Overprint
Type 3   1R (RH22) Type 3   2R (RH23) Type 3   10R (RH24) Example with a forged overprint for comparison.

I have (so far) only seen this forged overprint on this set, but it may also exist on the following two sets.

1946 is sometimes given as the date for these, but as Lim Peng Hong (Rangoon) quite reasonably points out in
'The Burmese Peacock' (Vol.5,No.3, Fall 1983), prior to independence from Britain(1948), the English language would have been used for the overprint.
I would like to add that the lack of the head of King George VI in the design is also unusual, begging an explanation.
it is more like a 1948 design, the first postal issue of which was in English.


New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH18 3 - 1 Anna carmine-red 8.00 -
RH19 3 - 2 Annas deep dull blue 8.00 -
RH20 3 - 8 Annas grey green 8.00 -
RH21 3 - 12 Annas bluish grey 10.00 -
RH22 3 - 1 Rupee brown 10.00 -
RH23 3 - 2 Rupees deep dull purple 12.00 -
RH24 3 - 10 Rupees turquoise-blue 15.00 -


1953 As above but additionally overprinted bilingually with values in new currency in black.

RH25-26 RH27 Burma-RH28
Type   4   (RH25) Type   4   (RH26) Type   4   (RH27) Type   4   (RH28)


RH29 RH30 Burma-4a
Type   5   (RH29) Type   5   (RH30) Type   5   (RH31)


New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH25 4 H18 6p on 1 Anna carmine-red 2.00 -
RH26 4 H19 13p on 2 Annas deep dull blue 2.50 -
RH27 4 H20 50p on 8 Annas grey green 8.00 -
RH28 4 H21 75p on 12 Annas bluish grey 3.00 -
RH29 5 H22 1K on 1 Rupee brown 15.00 -
RH30 5 H23 2K on 2 Rupees deep dull purple 20.00 -
RH31 5 H24 10K on 10 Rupees turquoise-blue   10.00 -



1954 As Nos. 8 to 17 but overprinted 'Service' in Burmese script in black.

Type   6   (RH32 - RH35)


RH36 RH37 RH38 RH39 RH40
Type   6   (RH36) Type   6   (RH37)
Courtesy of Rolf Lamprecht.
Type   6   (RH38) Type   6   (RH39) Type   6   (RH40)
Courtesy of Rolf Lamprecht.


Some apparently used examples.

RH32 used RH34 used RH34 used
RH32   1Pya used - courtesy of  Mark Bloxham. RH34   10Pya used - courtesy of  Mark Bloxham. RH35   25Pya used - courtesy of  Mark Bloxham.

The 1Pya stamp is dated 8 February 1955, Ranpetlet is in the Chin Hills, North Burma/Myanmar, at an altitude of 2,286 m.

New # Type. was Description Mint Used
RH32 6 H25 1p reddish lilac 2.00 -
RH33 6 H26 5p reddish purple 2.00 -
RH34 6 H27 10p orange 2.50 -
RH35 6 H28 25p turquoise green 2.50 -
RH36 6 H29 50p dull ultramarine 3.00 -
RH37 6 H30 75p sepia 5.00 -
RH38 6 H31 1K greenish blue 3.50 -
RH39 6 H32 2K rose-carmine 4.00 -
RH40 6 H33 10K deep olive green 10.00 -

Hiscocks added the following note:

Note. The Burmese Government listing of around 1960 seems to imply that a 5p
                value was issued only for service use, and a 6p value only for public use.

Notice that I have not seen the 5p, 75p 2K and 10K without this Official overprint. If they exist, they are probably rare or errors.
I would like to hear from anyone that has examples of those values without the overprint.




As far as Stationery is concerned, before independece, Burma appears to have used forms of India.
I would welcome examples of later forms.



Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.


Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.


Last updated 15th. January 2024

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