Imagine the archways and minarets of the Taj Mahal delicately engraved; a battle scene featuring Rani Lakshmibai, sword held high; and Madhubala’s dazzling smile frozen in time—all in stamp-sized ingots of gold.
The Pride of India collection is the first stamp ingot collection ever produced in India. Twenty-five stamps shortlisted by experts at the National Archives of India have been minted in pure Swiss silver (.999), their perforated edges diamond-cut, and plated with 24 carat gold.
An initiative of the Hallmark Group and issued under the India Post, the collection is limited to 7,500 sets. Hallmark, a 30 year-old company headquartered in London, works with governments around the world to produce similar collectors’ editions.
The good stuff
The craftsmanship is impressive: The ingots retain the dimensions of the original stamp. At a thickness of 2.2mm, their average weight is 31g.
Golden clone: An ingot and its original, the Kishangarh stamp issued in 1952.
What makes this collection even more special though is the selection of the stamps themselves. Weaving in everything from historic events to cultural icons, it’s a history of India through philately. There’s Gandhi and Tagore; Kathakali dance from Kerala and Kishangarh miniature art from Rajasthan. A Pride of India—Part II is on the cards.
The stamp issued to celebrate Satyajit Ray’s Oscar award is the largest in the set. It has a portrait of Ray as well as a still from his film, Pather Panchali. This, along with the Kishangarh miniature of Radha and a stamp depicting Buddha, make for the most striking pieces in the set.
Hallmark allows you to place orders by post, over the phone or online at www.prideofindiacollection.com. Each set comes with a lacquered wooden chest (that you can have your name engraved on), handling gloves, a collector’s album, and a special edition of the book Enchanting India. A certificate of authenticity seals the extravaganza.
Some stamps don’t lend themselves to metal engraving. Faces are the most difficult to replicate—which means that Madhubala looks like a poor imitation of herself.
If you’re prone to ordering things before they “hit the market”, you’re late on this one. Hallmark has been marketing these sets on a one-to-one basis since 2008. Around 4,300 sets have already been sold. However, with the Commonwealth Games traffic, the company released the first set of advertisements earlier this week.
The delivery time for these sets starts six months on since they’re manufactured only once an order is placed. So if you plan this as a gift, plan ahead.
The entire set costs Rs 1.67 lakh. Hallmark offers an EMI (equated monthly instalment) scheme so you can pay Rs 6,700 a month and receive one ingot at a time till your set is complete (individual ingots are not sold). For an upfront payment of Rs 67,000, you can avail of a fast delivery option.