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Some thoughts on Nepalese Hunting Camp Mail

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gemtree View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gemtree Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Some thoughts on Nepalese Hunting Camp Mail
    Posted: 09 September 2018 at 6:04am
I have been working on a general theory of how the classic Nepalese camp mail system utilizing the 1/2 anna stamp of 1899 worked and why there are no other transit or receiving postmarks on such mail. My guess is that the route between the camp and Kathmandu was a closed system that did not usually directly interface with the regular postal system in any manner whatsoever. Since the Prime Minister and many of the other higher governmental officials were at the camp for weeks at a time, it was in effect the capital of the country during these periods. Given the highly centralized nature of the Nepalese government where any decisions beyond those used for normal day-to-day operations had to be made from from the top, there would have been a large and constant flow of orders, reports, etc. between the camp and the bureaucrats in Kathmandu; and for obvious reasons much of this correspondence would have been politically sensitive. This mail would thus have probably been carrier by special couriers to and from the camp not to the Kathmandu post office but rather directly to some government sorting department in one of the palaces where the main government offices were located. Since many of the officials at the camp had family and associates in Kathmandu, they would have also used this system for personal mail which was apparently carried free like the government correspondence until 1899 when somebody realized that money could be made by charging a fee for it leading to the special 1/2 anna stamp. Since this was basically an interoffice system, there were no postal markings. Official correspondence would have just required a name and perhaps a department notation. Indeed, much of this correspondence may have consisted of bundles of reports and forms held together by loops of paper or tied or sewn together. Since there were no postal markings, those wishing to use the system for personal mail simply attached a half anna stamp to the envelope which they pen cancelled themselves to show the fee had been paid. Family members in Kathmandu would have dropped by the intergovernmental sorting office to pick up their mail rather than going to the post office. It would also make sense that any mail destined for the camp from other parts of the country also had to pass through the Kathmandu sorting department to be censored first. The high officials at the camp were in a somewhat vulnerable position; and given the very real threat of coups and revolution, mail to and from the camp had to be tightly controlled. It would thus make sense that mail from outside Kathmandu was enclosed in an unsealed envelope with the name and the department of the addressee and a 1/2 anna stamp affixed which was then sent enclosed in another cover addressed to the government sorting office in Kathmandu where it was taken from the outer envelope, censored and then forwarded to the camp. Such a system would explain why there are never any postal markings on camp mail. This general theory might not be totally or even partially correct; but I believe it gives us at least a starting point for a discussion about how the camp mail was actually handled. I would appreciate any views either positive or negative about my thoughts. And if anyone has any alternative theories, I would love to hear them.
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Herbert Mailänder View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Herbert Mailänder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 October 2019 at 5:24pm

Dear Ed.

I read your thoughts with great interest and they seem absolutely logical and in it self stringent. In any exploration of uncharted terrain, the most important thing is first of all to get the ball rolling and your thoughts are certainly the best way to do it. I am sure that in the future more will come to light to confirm the conceptual accuracy of your theory or to make small adjustments to render it even more precise.

If you allow – here my small contribution with regard to the mail originated not from privileged relatives of courtiers but by ordinary people. I have two letters suggesting that even the ordinary postal service – next to the Half Anna government courier service – has also offered a full postal service to the hunting camp and at normal post rates. Common people therefore had the choice between two possibilities of sending their petitions to the Government:


  • address and sent the petition to the government palace in Kathmandu and hope that the letter there will not have to wait until the return of the Prime Minister but will be transported by the government courier service to the hunting camp.

or

  • to address the petition directly to the hunting camp (SAWARI CAMP) and have it delivered directly there by the ordinary postal service.


Since true postal letters (which were delivered directly to the hunting camp) are rather rare, it seems that the population has preferred the first and for those more confortable option of the government courier service although at the risk that their letters will not be considered urgent and will left waiting in the Kathmandu palace until the return of the Prime Minister from the hunting camp.



Feb 1914 – 4 Paisa letter canceled in Kathmandu with crescent type postmark and delivered by ordinary postal service to the hunting camp (SAWARI CAMP) via the Post Office of Birganj.



*  *  *


It was even possible to send registered letters to the hunting camp by the ordinary postal service (even with "ACKNOWLEDGMENT SERVICE")


Feb 1939 – Local Registered Cover from Birganj to the near located hunting camp withACKNOWLEDGMENT SERVICE”. Cancellation and delivery postmark from the same day.


*  *  *

All this said, dear Ed, I think your assumption that the half-anna systhem was a pure government service is absolutely correct with the further addition that in parallel even the ordinary post organization has done a similar service.


Therefore, it may be convenient to speak of "camp mail" dividing into two categories:


  • the “GOVERNMENT COURIER CAMP MAIL(half Anna fiscal fee)

  • the “TRUE POSTAL  CAMP MAIL(at postal rates)


Thanks again to You for getting the ball rolling,...

________________________

Herbert Mailänder


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