Essential Reference Books for Soruth Stamp Collectors

In order to understand and learn more about Soruth philately, having a collection of valuable reference books is essential. Below are some recommended reference books I think every Soruth stamp collector should consider adding to their library.

Soruth - Wood, Ron and Meher, Vijay


Author: Wood, Ron and Meher, Vijay

Publisher: India Study Circle for Philately, 1999

Handbook of Indian Philately, Second Series No. 3, large paperback, illustrated, x + 163 pages. Well illustrated in black & white.

SORATH Stamps and Postal History - R. A. Malaviya

SORATH Stamps and Postal History

Author: R. A. Malaviya

Publisher: Ravi Prakashan, Junagadh, 1999

(Note: This list will be updated as and when I discover new reference books or resources)

Exploring the Soruth (Junagadh) Map

In our previous post, we introduced the blog and shared my passion for collecting Soruth stamps. Today, we dive deeper into the significance of the Soruth map and how it serves as a valuable reference in our philatelic endeavors.

Map Description:

It's important to understand - Saurashtra, was formerly known as Soruth (Sorath), which was formerly known as Junagadh. Hence, my starting search point is different maps of Junagadh state. 

Importance in Philately:

Maps are essential tool for collectors, presents a visual representation of the region. It depicts the boundaries, landmarks, and territories. It serves as a key reference when examining postal covers and cancellations. The map helps us analyze cancellations, postmarks, and other postal markings, enabling a deeper understanding of Soruth's postal system.

Map Variations:

While researching the Junagadh state map, you may come across different versions or variations. These variations could stem from different editions or updates over time. Exploring these differences and their implications adds another layer of intrigue to our philatelic research. I will keep updating maps below which I come across in my search and find useful. Remember, each stamp tells a unique story, and the Soruth map is our guide to uncovering those tales. Happy collecting!

Map is useful to understand more form the current India context. Afer India’s independence in 1947, 217 princely states of Kathiawar, including the former Junagadh State, were merged to form the state of Saurashtra on 15 February 1948. Initially, it was named United State of Kathiawar, renamed to Saurashtra State in November 1948.

On 1 November 1956, Saurashtra was merged into Bombay state. In 1960 Bombay state was divided along linguistic lines into the new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The territory of Saurashtra, including Junagadh and all of Soruth, became part of the state of Gujarat.

Map of the Junagadh State Kathiawar . . . 1938-39
Junagadh State Kathiawar . . . 1938-39

Found above map on , this will be super useful map, as it provides much details about different towns and places.

Junagadh State 1913
Junagadh State 1913

Another siplified map of Junagadh State from 1913. This, I believe, will be more useful to begin with.

Kathiawar Map 1878
Kathiawar Map 1878

I like this map since it's the only one I've found that depicts the region labelled "Sorath." 

Introduction to Soruth and the stamps issued

The term Soruth (or Saurashtra) describes a sizable region that is situated in the western region of modern-day Gujarat. The princely realm of Junagadh, which became a British protectorate in 1807, produced the first stamps of Saurashtra.

Nawab Mohammad Mahabat Khanji II, who ruled from 1851 to 1882, was in power when the First Issue, which included four 1a black stamps on variously coloured lay and wove paper, first issued in 1864. The watercolour stamps were imperforate, ungummed, and hand-stamped in watercolour.

Nawab Mohammad Mahabat Khan II
Nawab Mohammad Mahabat Khan II

By 1818, British India had established the Kathiawar Agency, which was responsible for administering the Saurashtra region separately from the other princely states of Kathiawar.

The state of Saurashtra was created on February 15, 1948, by the merger of 217 princely states of Kathiawar, including the old Junagadh State, following India's independence in 1947. United State of Kathiawar was its original name till November 1948, when it changed to Saurashtra State. Saurashtra and Bombay state were amalgamated on November 1st, 1956. Bombay state was split into Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1960 following linguistic grounds. The entire province of Saurashtra, including Junagadh, was incorporated into the state of Gujarat.

Stamp Issuance Journey

All Soruth stamps were printed locally and up to the 1929 pictorial set all Soruth stamps were printed without gum. 

The inaugural release consisted of stamps printed on four distinct types of laid and wove papers. These stamps were imperforate and featured a single one-anna handstamp in black watercolor ink. The first documented usage of these stamps occurred on 10/12 February 1867, which was more than a year after the introduction of the first Jammu and Kashmir stamp. The stamps were originally published in November 1864.

The second issue, which spanned from June 1868 to 1875, featured typeset stamps that were imperforate. Among the princely Indian states, Soruth's initial six typeset stamps are highly sought after as they are considered rare, and their specific arrangements are largely unknown. These first six stamps were printed on sheets of various colors, predominantly consisting of one anna stamps, as well as a particularly elusive two anna stamp. Following these six stamps, there were five additional issues of one and four annas stamps, showcasing various typeset variations. These included four significant settings with sheets of 20 stamps (4 x 5) and numerous sub-settings. The stamps were printed on white or colored paper, either laid or wove in texture.

From 1878 through 1929, the issues are typographic printings, and many of the sheets have decoartive margin inscriptions. The paper was laid and wove, and the stamps were imperforate and perforated in a variety of ways. From 1864 to 1929, Soruth stamps had just two denominations: one anna and four anna.

Soruth issued its first bi-coloured pictorial issue of eight values ranging from three pies to one rupee in 1929, and with the exception of a court fee stamp pressed into use by overprinting from the princely Indian state of Bhavnagar, the 1929 set and surcharges and overprints served Soruth for the remainder of its stamp issuing life. The 1929 bi-colored set was lithographed, printed on white wove paper, gummed, and perforated 14. 

Soruth, which has changed its name a couple of times, stopped issuing postage stamps on March 30, 1950, as its postal service became integrated into that of India.