Thursday, 5 July 2018

Some Tenom covers

I do not have much in way of Tenom postal history as these are very uncommon pre 1940s  but these ones here are worth showing. It was a small quiet place in the hills servicing the agricultural enterprises in the area. And besides, nearby Beaufort was the administrative centre for this area of the Interior Residency in the south west of North Borneo near to Labuan and Brunei. Easy accessibility is still a problem to this day.

This is a tatty cover with a missing 10c stamp but it is an important item of postal history from North Borneo. It was sent from the Tenom internment camp over the WWl period. Prior to the first World War, there were significant numbers of Germans working in North Borneo and in British Asian territories in general. The most well known German national in North Borneo was probably Paul Brietag who managed the Batu Puteh Estate near Sandakan. And also the personnel on the various German Norddeutsche Lloyd Bremen steamers which were a life line to Singapore and Sooloo. 
During WWl, these German nationals and their allies were interned at Tenom. They were probably treated very well as the war divided people who were very good friends. The hospitality of the Germans particularly on the ships was said to be legendary. Unfortunately, information on this aspect of our history is particularly lacking and very little was mentioned in the British North Borneo Herald. As usual, it was the bearer of good news and anything unseemly was simply brushed aside.
This uncommon cover was addressed to the Private Committee for International Correspondence  at Lausanne in Switzerland and sent from Internment Camp, Tenom, B N Borneo. The sender's name is not eligible. It was post dated 17 May 1916 with Tenom D2, transited at Jesselton on 18 May 1916 with D7. It passed through Singapore on 30 May 1916, then censored at Bombay before going to Switzerland. It has a faint Tenom registration cachet, R2 which is uncommon with a recorded use span of 25.4.16-29.5.16 (Proud). It was also censored at Tenom by A N M Garry who was the acting assistant district officer at Tenom. Garry was a great railway enthusiast. There were only 4-5 of these covers known. 

Airmail covers are popular and commands a premium especially those which were carried by the Dutch airline, KLM. Proud mentioned that airmail rates were introduced in North Borneo by 1932 and I have an Imperial airmail cover sent in March 1931. These covers have to go to Singapore first by sea. Mail by Imperial Airways went by train to Penang, then by ship and train to Karachi for the air service in stages to Croydon near London. The time taken from Penang was about 18 days and from Sandakan, an additional 7 days. 
The KLM was much faster as all stages from Alor Star was by air. It was estimated initially to take about 23 or 24 days from Sandakan to reach London and a day or two faster from Jesselton.  But it was actually much faster as the service became established. The 9,000 mile journey between Batavia in the Dutch Indies and Amsterdam took on average 12 days and with favourable conditions, as quick as 10 days. So for urgent letters it was preferable to use the KLM service even though it was more expensive. The above cover has the right rate of 60c whereas the rate was 25c for airmail carried by Imperial Airways.
This cover was sent  on 7 JUL 1936 from Tenom and received a back stamp at Jesselton on the same day. This is the only Dutch airmail cover from Tenom that I know of. Come to think of it, I can not recall an Imperial Airways cover from Tenom either.

This very beautiful Sanbride postcard showing Tenom was actually sent from Sandakan and not Tenom unfortunately. It shows an idyllic scene of the police station and jail. The postcard received a Sandakan T mark as it was underpaid by 2c for the prevailing imperial rate of 4c. This Sanbride postcard is rare.

 Tenom in the 1950s.

This is a 1948 FDC with the 8c  from the Royal Silver Wedding issue. It has the uncommon Tenom T mark UP4 for underpaid mail. The imperial rate was changed from 8c to 10c on 1 April 1948.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Labuan 1880 issue

The 1880 issue came 7-8 months after the 1879 issue which was quite surprising. It was said that the 1879 stamps ran out due to buying by philatelic collectors in England. A repeat print of the 1879 stamps was ordered. But the printer, De La Rue, used a different paper with a watermark of Crown CC. It is the usual paper for the printing of stamps rather than the paper for fiscal stamps with a large watermark of CA over Crown for the 1879 issue. There were also additional 8c and 10c values. This was therefore considered as a different issue. And besides, the 2c has a different colour of yellow-green in contrast to the blue-green of the 1879 2c stamp. 

There are few 1880 2c as superbly used as this. The red diamond dots imply an early used copy as subsequently the dots were in black and after that, the 9 bar cancellation which is more common. There were 5,360 copies issued.

I am excited about this 6c used stamp. It has an uncommon 5 or  more thick equal length horizontal bar cancellation. It is possibly an unrecorded Labuan cancellation or was it an arrival cancel? I do not think it is fiscal as this is usually "PAID"  written in manuscript. It is not found on Straits or HK stamps. The Pakua cancellations from China has thinner bars. One of  my SSS friends showed me his copy with 4 clear thick bars of equal length on a 1885 2c stamp which makes it more likely to be of Labuan origin. There were 5,200 copies of the 6c issued.

The 8c is the unusual one of this set. 16c was the letter rate to England. But the UPU later fixed the rate as 6c per half oz for letters to Europe in August 1880. However, an extra 2c was required for letters going overland via Brindisi in Italy. This was where this 8c was required. An order was put in for this value. In the meanwhile the 12c stamp was surcharged with various overprints to make 8c. The 8c carmine were printed by De La Rue and sent to Labuan in July 1881 but it was not till April 1882 when it was issued at the post office after the surcharged stamps were used up.
6,100 copies were issued. It appears that the plate used in the printing was either worn or the ink used was not of the highest quality as residues are left after the printing. Some vendors even described this defect as a double or triple printing and wanting more money for it! There is the usual 9 thick bar cancellation, K3 here. K3 was used between 1882 and 1908.  

The 10c was an additional value when compared to the 1879 set. We know from the Pollock letters of 1881 and 1882 from Sandakan that this was the rate from North Borneo to England before the post office in North Borneo opened in 1883. That would compose of 2c to Labuan and 8c for the UPU rate to England via Brindisi. Here we have the diamond dot cancel K1 in black. K1 came into use in 1864 and it was in black initially. By 1879 it was mostly in red and most unusually there is a very early example in red in 1865 on an Indian stamp on a front piece addressed to Charles Brooke, subsequently Rajah of Sarawak. K1 was last used in July 1882 and all the later copies should be in black. There were 5,050 copies of this 10c issued.

There were 5,330 copies issued but this is the most expensive stamp of the set because a significant proportion of the total was used in the various 8c surcharges. Again the red dots for K1 would indicate that this item was used in the early days of its issue.

This looks like another example of the thick bar cancellation of even width. There are possibly 6 bars shown here. 5,500 copies were issued but copies of the 16c blue which was surcharged with a "6" in red were from the earlier 1879 issue. 
 1883 issue watermark Crown CA
Copies issued
2c 10,500
8c  5,200
10c 5,200
16c 3,150
40c 4,100

1896 issue

Reference: LABUAN by Major a D V Rudolphi translated from German by Commander M.S.L.Burnett