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Some thoughts on Nepalese Hunting Camp Mail

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gemtree View Drop Down

Joined: 29 June 2006
Location: United States
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    Posted: 09 September 2018 at 6:04am
I have been working on a general theory of how the classic Nepalese camp mail system utilizing the 1/2 anna stamp of 1899 worked and why there are no other transit or receiving postmarks on such mail. My guess is that the route between the camp and Kathmandu was a closed system that did not usually directly interface with the regular postal system in any manner whatsoever. Since the Prime Minister and many of the other higher governmental officials were at the camp for weeks at a time, it was in effect the capital of the country during these periods. Given the highly centralized nature of the Nepalese government where any decisions beyond those used for normal day-to-day operations had to be made from from the top, there would have been a large and constant flow of orders, reports, etc. between the camp and the bureaucrats in Kathmandu; and for obvious reasons much of this correspondence would have been politically sensitive. This mail would thus have probably been carrier by special couriers to and from the camp not to the Kathmandu post office but rather directly to some government sorting department in one of the palaces where the main government offices were located. Since many of the officials at the camp had family and associates in Kathmandu, they would have also used this system for personal mail which was apparently carried free like the government correspondence until 1899 when somebody realized that money could be made by charging a fee for it leading to the special 1/2 anna stamp. Since this was basically an interoffice system, there were no postal markings. Official correspondence would have just required a name and perhaps a department notation. Indeed, much of this correspondence may have consisted of bundles of reports and forms held together by loops of paper or tied or sewn together. Since there were no postal markings, those wishing to use the system for personal mail simply attached a half anna stamp to the envelope which they pen cancelled themselves to show the fee had been paid. Family members in Kathmandu would have dropped by the intergovernmental sorting office to pick up their mail rather than going to the post office. It would also make sense that any mail destined for the camp from other parts of the country also had to pass through the Kathmandu sorting department to be censored first. The high officials at the camp were in a somewhat vulnerable position; and given the very real threat of coups and revolution, mail to and from the camp had to be tightly controlled. It would thus make sense that mail from outside Kathmandu was enclosed in an unsealed envelope with the name and the department of the addressee and a 1/2 anna stamp affixed which was then sent enclosed in another cover addressed to the government sorting office in Kathmandu where it was taken from the outer envelope, censored and then forwarded to the camp. Such a system would explain why there are never any postal markings on camp mail. This general theory might not be totally or even partially correct; but I believe it gives us at least a starting point for a discussion about how the camp mail was actually handled. I would appreciate any views either positive or negative about my thoughts. And if anyone has any alternative theories, I would love to hear them.
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