I like what a historian recently told me:
‘Without written records, we're left to "sleuthing" – to investigator logic.’
This was in relation to my exasperation at the near zilch written records within the country – about our coinage and postage stamps. Fortunately, although they could test our sleuthing skills and investigator logic to the extreme, there do exit sufficient material and records of events out there – as long as we are willing and have the patience to wade through a pool of murky and often times, undependable information. The only thing that remains to be seen is, at the end of it all, how good are our analytical skills and skills of deductions, and how adept are we at the application of logic.
Now, in my last post I have already established how it became possible for Burt Kerr Todd to enter Bhutan. And, if you read the telegram more intently, you will also be able to make an educated guess as to which month and year he arrived Bhutan, and who was his travel companion. But there are host of other questions that has remained mute, in relation to the mystery surrounding Burt’s role in the production and marketing of Bhutan’s postage stamps in the international market.
First issue relates to his appointment by Bhutan – to handle the entire process of designing, printing and delivery of our postage stamps – for internal consumption within the country, as well as for sale to collectors in the international domain.
To begin with, it is said that the deal was sealed at Bhutan House, Kalimpong, in 1959. To my mind this is most unlikely - for two reasons:
Gongzim Sonam Tobgay Dorji had passed away in September of 1953. In any event, with the situation prevailing following the “Quit India” movement, Bhutan House’s pivotal role as a foreign relations office during late 1800s and early 1900s, had greatly diminished. Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choden Dorji moved to Bhutan, upon her marriage to the XXVth Paro Poenlop and Crown Prince HRH Gyalsey Jingme Dorji Wangchuck, in 1951. During the same time, Haa Droomp Jigme Palden Dorji also moved to Bhutan – soon to be appointed Prime Minister of the country. Ashi Tashi Chodzom Dorji was moved to Eastern Bhutan (Trashigang) in 1954, as the King’s Representative - to streamline land holding and issue of Thrams in that part of the world. Thus, the only person of stature who would have been present in Bhutan House in 1959 would have been Mayoom Choying Wangmo Dorji.
I seriously doubt that she would have entered into any legal agreement with an outside person/agency, on behalf of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
The second reason why I believe the agreement would have been concluded much earlier to 1959 is because as early as 1960, Burt Todd saw it fit to “plant” a news article in the New York Times newspaper, announcing that Bhutan is planning to issue “regular postage stamps”. The term regular postage stamps would have been used since before that we only had four varieties of fiscal stamps, issued in 1954.
By May 1962 – five months before official release of our postage stamps on 10th October, 1962, Burt Todd was offering to sell Bhutanese postage stamps to international collectors. Designing and printing postage stamps is a tedious process – particularly when doing so for the first time ever. Additionally, shipping the stamps from England to his marketing agency based in Nassau, Bahamas would take time. So it is my belief that the deal to do the stamps would have been struck before Burt’s supposed trip to Bhutan in 1959. Also it is quite provable that he never arrived Bhutan in 1959 – but only upto Kalimpong. Some one representing the Royal Government of Bhutan with authority to do so, may have been sent to Kalimpong, to sign the Agency Agreement.
To be sure, there certainly is documented proof within the country that Burt Todd did come to Bhutan for his honeymoon, in 1954.
But one thing is certain BEYOND DOUBT – a written agreement would have to have been executed between Burt Todd and the Royal Government of Bhutan. Without this letter of appointment to validate his credentials as a bona fide representative of the Royal Government of Bhutan, the security printers Harrison & Sons, London, and later on, Walsall Security Printers, London would have never agreed to print Bhutanese postage stamps – just on the say so of Burt Kerr Todd.