A Bangalorean philatelist holds the rare distinction of owning cancelled postal covers dating back to 1864 and spanning 60 years of pre-Independence India.
H M Ananda Murthy has been collecting cancelled covers whose combined worth is estimated at more than `35 lakh today.
Since his childhood, he has collected stamps of every colour and size from almost every country. Hailing from Chikkanayakana-halli in southern Karnataka and now settled in Bangalore, 54-year-old Murthy continues his hobby.
“I have collected a wide range of stamps since 1974. In 1996, I got the silver medal at Canada Philatelic Exhibition in Toronto,” he told City Express.
He also started collecting Traveling Post Office (TPO) and Railway Mail Service (RMS) cancellation covers dating back to 1864.
His unique collection includes many types of cancellations. Some names given to them are: Bombay circle, Howrah circle, up train, down train, unpaid sorting, registered, first, second, third, fourth delivery with semi-circle, triangle, diamond, hexagon and oval design. Each of these has a story to tell and generates interest among collectors.
“My collection spans 61 years from 1864 to 1925. I have collected more than 350 to 400 covers worth more than `35 lakh. I have in my collection the rare mirror image cancellation (when the dateline is in reverse), and error cancellations (to correct wrongly mentioned date, month or year),” he explained.
The jury of the Philatelic Congress of India gave him additional marks for his unusually detailed study of every cancelled cover.
In spite of leading a very busy life as a mechanical designer, Murthy makes time for his passion. He also paints temples, and makes models in clay and thermocol. Wax sculpture, illustration and calligraphy are his other interests.
His thematic collection also includes rare flora and fauna, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, locomotives and more.
“I approach old people and sometimes buy or exchange covers during exhibitions. My hobby has made me more self-reliant and helped me make friends across generations and boundaries,” he said.
Murthy has participated in several exhibitions and received appreciation letters and accolades. “I have also been invited by the postal department to guide and train school children and conduct workshops,” he said.
The huge collection of these rare covers is neither available with the Railways nor the Postal department. “I feel proud and elated to say that it is out of my own efforts that I have come to this position,” he said.
So what is the future? “My dream is to do research further, gain more knowledge and to get a doctorate,” he added.