Sunday, 3 December 2017

Henry Walker, Commissioner of Lands, British North Borneo

I am quite glad to acquire these incoming postcards to Sandakan recently. They were sent to Henry Walker and his wife. Henry Walker was Commissioner of Lands BNB between 1892-1909. He died on 13 February 1930. Both Walker and his wife were commemorated by an inscription at the base the pulpit in St Michael Church in Sandakan. 

Henry Walker (National Archives)

base of pulpit at St Michael Church

By the time he retired in March 1909, he had been working in North Borneo for 26 years. He joined the service in December 1882. He started as a land surveyor and swiftly became the Acting Commissioner of Lands in September 1883. His other duties included a stint as the editor the BNB Herald between 1894 and 1896.
In 1899, he identified a suitable plot of land just across from Gaya Island for a new township within reach of the west coast railway. Gantian had failed in this respect. He called it Jesselton after the vice chairman of the ruling chartered company. But Sir Charles Jessel never set foot in North Borneo and Jesselton in particular. Henry Walker died in February 1930.  
This series of postcards also shows the transition from an undivided back to a divided back postcard. The first divided back postcard was issued in Britain in 1902 and it was soon followed by France and Germany. It was not until 1907 when USA followed suit. To this day, picture postcards still adhered to this format. Prior to 1904, most postcards have a blank border on the picture side which was where messages were usually written. Postal regulations forbade any writing on the address side or otherwise a higher letter postage rate would applied. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

A long misplaced biscuit tin of stamps and Sabah postmarks of 1971

Recently, I found my long "lost" biscuit tin of stamps that I collected in my teens. In it are mostly stamps cut from envelopes by my sister who was working in the local forestry department in Sandakan. It is a treasure trove of postmarks of 1971. It is not fully comprehensive but does contain some fairly uncommon postmarks.

The postmarks shown here in consecutive order are Tambunan, Tuaran, Membakut, Bandau, Tenom, Kota Belud, Ranau, Tamparuli, Lahad Datu, Railway TPO 1, Beaufort, Papar, Tanjong Aru, Keningau, Semporna and Tawau. The common ones like Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Labuan and Kudat are not shown. Tambunan and Membakut are the most difficult ones here I think.

Kunak postmarks could not be that common and this is a page full of them including some nice multiples. It is situated on the south eastern coast on the road between between Tawau and Lahad Datu on its way to Sandakan. The area was previously known as Mostyn. Kunak had a thriving local timber extraction industry in those days which resulted in frequent correspondence with the main forestry office which was in Sandakan. In the early 1970s, it was mainly a timber camp and a few shops. Nowadays there is hardly any forest there after been overwhelmed by the oil palm plantations. There is also cocoa which the Mostyn Estate was known for together with hemp. Hemp cultivation is probably not current but it was depicted on the 4c purple stamps of 1950 and 1954. The area is also known for its thriving fishing industry. 

Among the many hundreds of stamps in the tin, there were some which I set aside years ago. They include these colour variations which are not classify as far as I know. 1971 was a transitional year from the much better printed orchid issue to that of the butterflies on glossy paper. It is a nightmare trying to find a good postmark on the butterfly issue as the ink did not stick well. It tended to be faint or smudged. And the postmarks were changed in the major towns to a smaller and more mean less attractive version as seen above on the 6c stamps.

Not many of these flimsy registered receipts survive in the damp hot conditions of the far east, I think. They are collectible. These two show the transit from English to Malay on official stationary. You can see my KK Airport post office receipt here.

There were only a few North Borneo stamps in this tin but this pair of 1954 10c has the "extra chimney" variety on the upper stamp which is present once on a sheet of 100 at the top of the right hand corner ie R1/10. The postdate of 26 NOV 1957 implies that this variety is also present in later printings of this stamp. We know it was originally in the first printing because I have 2 first day covers with this variety. 


I might as well include the very uncommon Kuala Penyu cancellation. It is shown here with the cancels from Ranua and Kota Belud. They were all from 1964 when the Sabah Malaysia cancellations were first used in July.