That's very interesting Max, I hadn't heard about that system before. Marcus
Martin's book, published in 1966 is called English Names for Indian Places; a Coded
Index of Indian Post Offices and is available at the British Library.
This link from "World Postmarks" is sourced from this book.
On 01/12/2013, at 9:11 PM, "Max Smith" <max.smith(a)blueyonder.co.uk>
But do not confuse M.F.C. (Marcus) Martin with his brother D.R. (Denys) Martin.
Denys (d.1970) rose to be a Colonel in the Royal Engineers and wrote several pioneering
books on both Indian and Pakistan philately.
Marcus (d.1966) was not a military man, but a geographer. He devised a wonderfully
simple way to understand the old English spellings for Indian places, which still confuse
people today. For example, FATEHPUR (‘City of Victory’) is a fairly common placename and
by the mid-19th century it could be spelled in at least seven ways: FUTTIHPOOR, FUTIHPORE,
FUTTAPORE, FUTTEHPOOR, FUTTIPOUR, FUTTYPOOR, FUTTYPORE etc. Marcus saw that the
consonants were fairly accurate and could be reduced to a short code: here ‘FTP’ or, if
you prefer 4 characters, ‘FTPR’. Then
a.. treat soft ‘c’, ‘ch’ and ‘chh’ as being the same;
b.. treat hard ‘c’, ‘k’ and ‘q’ also as the same; and
c.. treat double consonants as single (‘ck’ as ‘k’, ‘tt’ as ‘t’ etc);
d.. Ignore vowels, except at the beginning of a name, when they should be replaced by a
wildcard, such as a dash (-).
Marcus was apparently delighted to find, using this principle, that OOMRAWUTTEE was
modern AMRAOTI (both names will code to ‘-MRT’). He published a pamphlet which is long
since out of print, with coded tables for the 3,900 Post Offices that existed in India in
1877, when they were renamed in standardised form and continued until independence.
The principle is quite easy to remember and helps enormously when looking up placenames
in atlases and gazetteers.