Property of a Gentleman exhibition set to showcase rare postage stamps from Nizam of Hyderabad’s Dominions

The Gujral Foundation will present Property of a Gentleman: Stamps from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Dominions from the Ewari Collection at Bikaner House, New Delhi, on view from 9-24 March, 2019.

author_img JD Sen Published :  26th February 2019 10:40 PM   |   Published :   |  26th February 2019 10:40 PM
Image Courtesy the Ewari Collection

Image Courtesy the Ewari Collection

The Gujral Foundation is set to present Property of a Gentleman, Stamps from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Dominions, a unique exhibition that aims to explore an aspect of Hyderabad’s history seldom given the attention it deserves. 

The exhibition will present rare stamps from the Ewari Collection; an iconic collection which dates back to Nawab Iqbal Hussain Khan, the Postmaster General under the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad. The exhibition is curated by Pramod Kumar KG, Managing Director of Eka Archiving

Hyderabad, the senior most princely state in colonial India, printed its own stamps from 1869 onwards until it became a part of the Indian Union in 1949.

The objects on display will include rare examples of original postage stamps from Hyderabad ranging from individual stamps to entire stamp sheets, as well as valuable and related ephemera such as original letters, postcards, revenue stamps of the region, erroneous stamps, seals and monograms.

In today’s age of rapid technological changes in communication, postage stamps are vital remnants of a bygone era. These seemingly insignificant objects played an essential role in a complex and vast communication network that spread across the world.

From their original role as payments to help transfer messages, stamps were also used to facilitate revenue collection, taxation and served other fiscal purposes. 

Apart from their practical usage several states utilised stamps as a way of celebrating the material heritage and culture of the issuing region. The use of exquisite calligraphy, multifarious languages and architectural tropes demonstrate the far reaching influence of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad.

Particular highlights in the exhibition include the first stamp issued by the Nizam’s Government in Hyderabad; a wide range of postage stamps that evolved over a period of time in different colours, values, inscriptions and sizes; stamps featuring monuments from across the Nizam’s expansive dominion as well as the last stamp issued by the princely state of Hyderabad.

L-R: King George VI India Postage stamps issued during the British Rule in India; these stamps though commonly used in Hyderabad were unique as they featured the value of the stamp in four languages - Marathi, Telugu, English and Persian and later in Urdu.

Other displays will include the extraordinary Penny Black (the first adhesive postage stamp in the world), and a remarkable King George VI series of Indian postage stamps depicting different modes of transportation used to deliver mail. The collection also includes exceptional stamps issued in Hyderabad to commemorate the victory of the Allied Powers in the Second World War.

“The Ewari family philately collection has a deep personal connect with Hyderabad. The genesis of the Collection begins with the legacy of their grandfather, Nawab Iqbal Hussain Khan the Post Master General in the government of the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan. The Collection today consists of more than 3 million stamps and includes unusual and representative pieces from across the former Indian Princely States... 

Additionally, it has important holdings from around the world including the Penny Black, the world’s first stamp issued in 1840. The Collection also has a rich holding of related material culture and ephemera that are vestiges of a changed world.

These include handwritten, calligraphed and illuminated letters in several scripts, postcards, monogrammed envelopes, notes and seals, greeting and invitation cards and besides a wide repository of blind stamps, wet stamps and other stamping formats across several printed mediums that were popular tools of communication and revenue in the not so distant past.” ~ Pramod Kumar KG, Curator | Eka Archiving

Image Courtesy: The Ewari Collection

The Gujral Foundation is a non-profit trust set up in 2008 to nurture talent in the arts, architecture and design in India. Founded by Mohit and Feroze Gujral – the son and daughter-in-law of the renowned Indian modern artist Satish Gujral – it has supported 150+ artists and thinkers in 50+ projects in South Asia and around the world. 

Among them have been My East is Your West – a collateral event at the 56th Venice Biennale, Contour Biennale 8, the 11th Shanghai Biennale, the 8th Berlin Biennale, the contemporary Indian artists Desire Machine Collective at The British Museum, Colomboscope and the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. 

Previously on the boards of the IGNCA in India, the Serpentine and the Guggenheim, Feroze Gujral is on the international council of the Tate, a Founding Patron and Trustee of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and the Founder Director of Outset India – a global philanthropic art fund.

Through its innovative programming at 24, Jor Bagh, Studio G-Spot, and patron driven initiatives such as Studio Makers, The Gujral Foundation has pioneered new models for corporate, institutional and individual support for the arts and culture in India.

Property of a Gentleman: Stamps from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Dominions, from the Ewari Collection, presented by The Gujral Foundation, at Bikaner House, New Delhi, will be on view from 9 to 24 March, 2019.