In previous years, in India, small copper tokens (called tickets); valued at 2 annas (1/8th of a rupee) were generally the medium of payment for postage. Single letters of up to 2-1/2 tolas (29 gm) were charged at the rate of 2 annas for every 100 miles.
Sir Bartle Frere of the East India Company became the Chief Commissioner of Sindh in 1850. Sir Frere was a great admirer of Sir Rowland Hill and the Penny Postage System he had introduced in Great Britain. Frere improved upon the postal system of Sindh by introducing a cheap and uniform rate for postage, independent of distance travelled. In 1851 the runners were replaced with an efficient system using horses and camels, following routes through Scinde province, generally along the valley of the Indus River. The mail was carried quickly and efficiently, connecting government offices and post offices from Karachi through Kotri and Hyderabad up to Shikkur in the north.
With the help of the Postmaster of Karachi, Sir Bartle issued the first postage stamps in Asia – embossed pieces of paper with a circular design in red, white or blue, of ½ Anna denominations. They carried the merchant mark of the East India Company. They were used in the Province of Sindh and also on the Karachi-Bombay route.
The first stamps of India came to be known as “Scinde Dawks”, as they were issued in the Province of Sindh. “Scinde” was how the British spelt the province of Sindh and “Dawk” is the anglicized spelling of the Hindustani word “Dak” or Post. And so, to this day, India’s first stamps are referred to simply as The Scinde Dawks!
By contrast, the Scinde Dawk (the red stamp in the series) may exchange hands at prices as high as UK Pounds 2500 (US $ 5,000).
The Scinde Dawk stamps are rare classics of philately world.
Forgeries of these rare stamps are plentiful. The most easily detected fakes are not embossed on paper. Other crude fakes show a misalignment of the second letter ‘A’ of ANNA with the ‘K’ of DAWK; and in other fakes the ‘1/2’ is not separated from the central heart shaped emblem. So, Philatelists Be care full about these Forgeries.