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Monday, January 21, 2013

'Rani Thalai kizh' ~ topsy turvy stamp of Victoria and Sujatha

If I were to visualize a Genius, it would only represent the image of Sujatha, the versatile Tamil writer,  the great learned person who introduced sci-fi to tamil readers.  Tamil koorum nallulugam is still reading and appreciating the very many short stories, novels, poems, plays, screenplays for movies, articles on popular science and other non-fiction articles, that he left behind for the Tamil readers.  His Q & A on Science questions in magazines like Junior Vikatan enlightened the readers making them understand the greatness of Science and more.  

 Srirangam Rangarajan, born at Thiruvallikkeni [Triplicane] penned under the pseudonym Sujatha writing volumes of stories, Stage dramas and slim volume of poems too in a career than spanned more than four decades. An engineer by profession, he was proficient in the language of technology. By profession, he was involved in the usage of Electronic Voting Machines [EVM] used for the first time at Parur and thus in way changed the way, Indian electorate voted.  He also immortalized Ganesh-Vasanth - an imaginary advocate pair serving as the main characters in most of his detective stories. Ganesh is a level-headed, senior advocate and Vasanth is his junior advocate who could flirt too.  It was a very sad day when he passed away on 27th Feb 2008.

Remember a very interesting story written by him, in Kumudam Deepavali Special [if my memory is right!] titled ‘Raani thalai kizh’ [under the head of Queen] ~ read the footnote too on the title…

As a critic when he wrote about Cinema, he used to comment that the storyline could easily be written on the backside of a postal stamp ~ meaning that story is a one or two liner !!  This was a story about a stamp………. typically occurring at Srirangam, the place where Sujatha grew.. the place which provided ideal background for many of his stories.

It was a story with an ailing person not so well taken care of ~ in an ancestral home in the mada veethis of Thiruvarangam.  His last days pass by with not any of his lineage attending to him.  It is a big palatial house and the person lays in dead bed expecting the expected to happen……… those around want the property to bequeathed in their favour. … his senses are slowly getting down and on a day with some people around, he mumbles ‘raani thalai kizh’.

His kith and kin have a strong sense that he has earned well and has hidden the treasure somewhere ~ they sieve the house, every nook and corner, but could not locate the hidden treasure, nor have any sense of what the wealth, the richness could be…  they search and search again under the cot and other places, trying to decipher that the treasure could be under the head of ‘raani’ ~ what was that Raani and where was it could not be deciphered.

The man passes away ~ the relatives search thoroughly all his belonging……. Nothing much could be found….. then with frustration, they start throwing all the man had left behind to the dust bin…… the Corporation lorry comes collects and loads them with all the other waste of the city……

The story concludes with realization dawning that it was not ‘under the head of Raani’ ~ but ‘Raani upside down’…. Yes the old man had in his possession, a stamp of Victoria Queen which erroneously was printed ‘upside down’…… the stamp collectors World over had been keen to buy the same for hundreds of pounds and thus was worth in lakhs…….. the man in his dying moments had perhaps tried to indicate that…. Which those interested in inheriting his wealth were not aware of…..

The concluding lines were ‘the stamp [the one that had Queen Victoria printed upside down’ was travelling with all other garbage to the municipal dumping yard with nobody to understand its value…………………………

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
21st Jan 2013.

PS :  In Tamil, the title was ‘Raani thalai kizh’  - litetrally translated would mean ‘under the head of Queen, if one were to read as Raani thalai kizh’; if one were to read thalai and kizh together i.e., ‘rani thalaikizh ~ it would mean Queen upside down’……


Now read this newsitem in Daily Mail…

The topsy-turvy stamp expected to fetch £70,000: Printing mistake turned Queen Victoria's head upside-down
•        159 year-old misprinted stamp highly sought after by collectors
•        One of the first multi-coloured stamps of its time and only 25 exist

By Daily Mail Reporter – published on 20 Jan 2013.  

A rare 159-year-old stamp that has an image of the head of Queen Victoria on upside down after a printing mistake has emerged for sale for 70,000 pounds.  The postage stamp is said to be one of the most sought-after items in the world of philately. During the first printing of the four annas stamp in the survey office in Calcutta in 1854, the Queen's head was accidentally printed upside down on the stamp.

The mistake went unnoticed and dozens of the stamps were sold in India, which was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire at the time.  Because of the misprint, the stamp is highly sought-after because it is rarer than stamps with the image the right way up. Only about 20 or 30 of the stamps remain in existence today and the one that is to be auctioned is said to be completely free of faults or blemishes. It was in the collection of renowned US philatelist Robert Cunliffe for many years and is now being sold by another private collector.

Auctioneers Spink of London has put an estimate of between 50,000 to 70,000 pounds.  David Parsons, a stamp specialist at Spink's, said: 'This is an incredibly rare stamp, with about 25 known examples in the world. 'There was an accident during the printing process which meant the Queen's head was upside down. 'Collectors of stamps love inverted stamps because they are so startling.  'Queen Victoria's head appeared on stamps in India right up until her death in 1901. 'The mistake wasn't noticed at the time because they clearly went into circulation and were bought by people.'

The stamp will be auctioned off at Spink's of London and is expected to reach around £70,000. The four annas stamp was one of the first multi-coloured stamps in the world at the time. The outline was printed in red and the head of Queen Victoria was in blue and was added within the frame. The stamps were printed in 12 to a sheet and more than 206,000 stamps were produced. It is thought the error was made on three sheets.

The auction takes place on January 23.

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