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Conceiving A Stamp Design

N. Kalyani

By C.R. Pakrashi
Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2014, pp. 216, Rs. 695.00


A beautifully illustrated book, A Stamp is Born, by Chitta Ranjan Pakrashi, describes in detail his journey as a stamp designer. Pakrashi ventured into stamp designing, a specialized genre of visual art, thanks to an All-India Stamp Designing Competition conducted in the year 1955. His entry was adjudged the winner of the first prize and his design eventually became the 2-anna Buddha Jayanti stamp issued by India’s postal department in the year 1956 to commemorate Lord Buddha’s 2500th birth anniversary. This uniquely designed stamp has the symbolic Bodhi tree, portrayed with special light and shade effects on a full moon night, the full moon too being symbolic to the Buddha.  Pakrashi’s stamp designing career has lasted more than fifty years. Pakrashi did a diploma in commercial art and a special course in industrial designing from the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, and worked in the Government of India as an artist and industrial designer. And as a stamp designer Pakrashi has designed more than fifty stamps for India and a couple of foreign countries. A Stamp is Born begins with a twenty-four page long Introduction by the author wherein he discusses the birth of the postal system, the birth of the postage stamp in the UK and the postal service in India. He also gives a detailed description of stamp designing, how he designed a stamp on the occasion of the national philatelic exhibition in 1982, INPEX 82, for which he had to depict a Railway Mail Service (RMS) van of earlier times. He had to visit different places like the Rail Bhavan, British Council Library, New Delhi and Old Delhi railway stations and Rail Museum to get a picture of such a van. And the 50 paisa stamp that he designed shows both an RMS van and the Fairy Queen engine, the oldest steam engine in the world in working condition.  What makes Pakrashi’s book interesting is that he describes both the great deal of research work that was often required in the evolution of the design and the art work he engaged in to design a stamp. The themes included make the book highly informative both for a lay reader and a researcher especially of history. The book has pictures of postage stamps, preliminary stamp designs, a part of the designing process, FDCs which he designed, postal cancellations, letters from dignitaries, autographed philatelic items and commercially used covers, ...

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