Before India's independence from Britain in 1947, about 40% of the subcontinent, containing between a fifth and a quarter of the population, was ruled by Indian princely families who collaborated closely with the British.
The court fee and revenue stamps were designed by the British as a means to collect taxes from residents of some of the Princely States as early as 1797. The designs included the name of the state as well as the type and amount of tax imposed.
Early examples of stamped paper from British India and the Princely States were colorless, much like a notary's seal, but later they were replaced by typeset or engraved stamps. Later, color was added, and printings for some of the more affluent states were imported from the West.
Click on the tabs above to view a few examples from UC Berkeley's collection.
These examples are from a special archival collection stored in an off-site location. Please inquire at the South/Southeast Asia Library for access:
v.1 Alwar, Balwan, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Bundi v.2 Indargarh, v.3 Jaipur, v.4 Jodhpur (Marwar), Jodhpur Estates (Marwar), Karauli, Khatoli (Khatauli), Kishangarh, v.5 Sambhar, Sikar, Unidentified, v.6 Udaipur (Chitrakot), v.7 Udaipur (Chitrakot)
A key reference work is:
The Court Fee and Revenue Stamps of the Princely States of India: an Encyclopedia and Reference Manual by Adolph Koeppel (Mineola, N.Y. : Fiscal Philatelic Foundation, 1983-1989). HJ5450.K63 1983 v.1-2, v.1 suppl. (1983-1989), S/SEA Reference.