Avid collector presents vignettes of railway history

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PHILATELIST PAR EXCELLENCE: Toneesh Thomas displaying his collection of stamps in Tiruchi. PHOTO: R. M. Rajarathinam
PHILATELIST PAR EXCELLENCE: Toneesh Thomas displaying his collection of stamps in Tiruchi. PHOTO: R. M. Rajarathinam

R. Rajaram

TIRUCHI: An album containing a collection of stamps on Indian Railways brought out by the Department of Posts stands testimony to 15 years of enthusiastic efforts by Toneesh Thomas, 39, a railway employee.

The 30-odd stamps and 20 first-day covers give a rich account of the Railways' record. Stamp collection has been Mr. Thomas' hobby since school days he has so far collected 30,000 stamps on tourism, the freedom movement and wildlife. The passion extended to the railways after he joined the organisation. The collections of Mr. Thomas, a TTE in Southern Railways' Thiruvananthapuram Division, boast of stamps brought out during the pre-Independence period too.

The oldest

The oldest one in his collection is a stamp brought out in 1937 on King George VI and a steam locomotive of the then East Indian Railway along with mail cars.

Also featured is the first railway stamp released after Independence in 1953 to mark the Railways' centenary, along with short notes of its significance.

The first train that chugged along from Bori Bunder to Thana on April 16, 1853 was hauled by three engines Sindh, Sultan and Sahib.

This train of 14 carriages took an hour and 15 minutes to reach Thane on its maiden journey, Mr. Thomas says, quoting from railway history.

The stamp on the International Union of Railways released in 1972 has a signal box panel drawn by French artist George Mathieu.

A set of four stamps depicting the different locomotives three steam engines and a diesel loco and released in 1976 also forms part of his collection.

Of these, one of the stamps depicts steam loco GIP No. 1, the earliest engine used in 1853, and the other depicts steam loco F 1, also used before the Independence. The stamps on personalities include those of Arjun Balwant Walawalkar, pioneer of the Konkan Railway, and L.N. Misra, former Railway Minister who died in a bomb blast.

Stamps depicting locomotives of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Victoria Terminus, Bombay, and the Chittaranjan Loco Works are in the album of Mr. Thomas, who recently displayed his collection in Tiruchi during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Zonal Railway Training Institute here.

Mr. Thomas has obtained the old stamps from other collectors through barter arrangements .




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