PHILATELY

Philately, or the hobby of stamp collecting, offers many avenues to young and old collectors alike to explore and expand upon themes of their choice.

The First World War as a collecting theme offers a very wide choice to the collector. However, limiting it to a particular sub-theme such as a country gives one the benefit of going into great depth and enjoying the subject to the maximum it has to offer.



India issued a number of postage stamps of various denominations overprinted with the letters "I.E.F.". This stood for "Indian Expeditionary Force" and could be used by Indian soldiers who had proceeded overseas on active service with the various expeditionary forces from September 1914 onwards. The expeditionary forces were: I.E.F. A : 'France and Flanders' I.E.F. B: etc.

Apart from these stamps, items of military postal stationary such as honour envelopes printed in various Indian languages (wherein the sender signed a declaration confirming that the contents of the letter did not reveal sensitive information), field service post cards are avidly collected particularly when tied by a Field Post Office (F.P.O.) cancellation and/or censor stamps or labels.

Some of the rarer F.P.O. cancellations are greatly sought after and prized by collectors. For greater information see Volume 2 of History of the Indian Army Postal Service by Edward Wilfrid Baxby Proud and also the online e book - The Post Office of India in the Great War (https://archive.org/details/cu31924012679548). P.O.W. envelopes sent from different prisoner of war camps form another interesting theme.


A third category of WW1 postal collectables are “Cinderellas”. These are small labels printed by private organisations in the form of stamps and sold to support a public cause or advertise an event or product. They were affixed to envelopes by senders and are a valuable indicator of the social and political history of the times.

  • About Us

    The Joint USI-MEA Centenary Commemoration project highlights the oft-forgotten role of India in the First World War and commemorates those soldiers who served during the War. The project is aimed at exploring India’s engagement in the war from a variety of perspectives.
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  • CONTACT US

    The United Service Institution of India
    Rao Tula Ram Marg (Opposite Signals Enclave)
    Post Bag No 8, Vasant Vihar PO, New Delhi - 110 057

    Ph: +91-11-26147464
    E-Mail: cafhr@usiofindia.org