My search for Air-India flight covers often results in very interesting discoveries. Here is one that has the 12 anna Air-India commemorative stamp on the Official Souvenir Cover, and is cancelled TUNG, 7 JUN 48, 2.20 PM. 'Tung! never heard of such a place, so let me find out more,' I said to myself.
So, Google, the omnipresent, and omniscient, told me that Tung is a post office in Darjeeling (new name Darjiling), W. Bengal, with a Pin Code 734224. Ok, so the story starts getting more interesting. Then I flipped the cover around, and was fortunate to find the senders information on the reverse flap.
The cover was sent by Lt. Col. L. Hannagan, Margaret's Hope Tea Estate, Tung, India. A tea estate in Darjeeling, makes sense, but a name like Margaret's Hope got to have a story around it. The present owner of tea estate, Goodricke's website has the very touching story on how it was named Margret's Hope.
Situated in north Kurseong at an elevation ranging from 950 meters to 1830 meters, the 150-year-old famous Margaret's Hope Tea Estate was once called Bara Ringtong. At the beginning of the 20th century, legend has it, the then-manager of Ringtong, Mr Bagdon, rechristened it as Margaret's Hope.
The wistful name refers to a great tragedy that befell Mr Bagdon in 1827.
Mr Bagdon, who was the first to plant tea on the southwest ridge of the Balsun River, had a daughter called Margaret. According to the tale, Margaret came all the way from Britain, visited the estate and fell in love with its sublime beauty. She was so taken by the region that she made up her mind to settle at the picturesque Bara Ringtong for good. But, much to her dismay, she had to return to England accompanied by her mother.
However, fate had other plans for Margaret and her hapless father. On her way back to England, during a tortuous four-month journey, Margaret took ill aboard and died on the way. Mr Bagdon continued his duties as the manager of the estate, but was overcome with grief. Sources say he had a vision of his departed daughter, while taking a walk through the estate and remembered how she had hoped she would live there one day. This singular experience inspired him to call the estate Margaret's Hope.
The Margaret's Hope estate is now spread across 586.16 hectares. Although set up in the 1830s, the garden became commercially viable only in 1864. Today, the garden's high-altitude tea buds are harvested in spring and are prized by connoisseurs all over the world.
After 150 years, Margaret's Hope continues to produce its renowned first flush (spring) tea, which has a flowery aroma and golden colour. Its second flush produces a mellow cup with a muscatel character and bronze colour.
This cover is a great addition to our web-site, and very collectible for a variety of reasons. It missed the flight. No Post office should have accepted the cover in the mail after June 5. This was made quite clear in the DG's circular, and this was a contravention. Not only that, it was not supposed to be cancelled locally, but sent to Bombay for franking and onward dispatch. This was not done, another contravention. No Boxed cachet applied. Cancelled at Tung, an unusual place of origin, makes it even more interesting.
Many thanks to Arun Agarwal of Kanpur for procuring this beauty for me.
Update posted on 5 November 2016:
The story does not end here. Gaurav Gupta was kind enough to share images of a similar cover he obtained, with a slight twist. This is from the same Lt. Col. L. Hannagan, at Margaret's Hope Tea Estate, P.O. Tung, W. Bengal, India. However it is postally cancelled TUNG, 14 JUN 48. Now this makes it a highly collectable cover since it is later use of the stamp, and should not have been accepted by the postal authorities. I've posted images below:
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