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

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Some RPPCs from North Borneo and others

I am showing some postcards on this occasion. Little is known about the publishers of quite a few of the postcards from North Borneo. RPPC or real photo postcards are very collectible and are relatively scarce due to the limited numbers of each card published because they were more expensive to produce in comparison to their photogravure printed counterparts. 

This postcard has a pencil written clue on the back. It was almost certainly taken on the west coast of North Borneo. The location would most likely be near Kota Belud. The subject material of this series of real photo postcards mostly depict scenes on the west coast. It has a divided back in common with postcards post 1906 and a triangle at the upper right corner. 

This postcard is from the same publisher and it shows the old part of Jesselton with Gaya Street and Beach Street. The Atkinson Clock Tower which can be seen on the extreme right side is a good landmark. The railway is seen to go all the way into Jesselton. The sea is also noticeably much nearer and nowadays with reclamation and development, it is at least 3 blocks away.
Again there is the triangle where the stamp would be placed. In Chai Foh Chin's book Early Picture Postcards of North Borneo and Labuan, these cards were believed to have been published by a group of Japanese photographers based in Singapore. 

This is another postcard from the same publisher and the triangle has been covered by the stamp, as was intended. I think it shows a nice sunset somewhere near Jesselton. 

This is another RPPC and it shows native female porters. The native man was holding an umbrella probably for the benefit of his "Tuan". In the colonial and chartered rule period, government overseers traveled between stations and their belongings and supplies were carried by bare footed native potters, whose diminutive size belies their strength and stamina.
It was sent in October 1939 and has the censored cachet from Jesselton. The publisher is unknown but it has the name Gevaert  at the bottom of the dividing line. It would indicate that the brownish photographic printing card was from Gevaert Ltd which is now part of Agfa-Gevaert, a Belgian corporation. But originally this card also has a triangle at the back as shown on a similar card in Chai's book.

This is an SPG card based on one published by Funk which was in black and white. There were 3 such cards depicting natives of North Borneo published by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Clearly post 1906, they probably dated from the early 1910s. They were not sold in North Borneo.

This is a very nice S W Singapore postcard from the 1960s which I recovered from my wife's schoolgirl collection recently. It shows the curious rock formation at Batu Sapi, an area in Sandakan named after this rock. Batu Sapi translates into Buffalo Rock rather than Cow Rock as cows are not indigenous to North  Borneo. But long ago it was referred to as Batu Gajah or Elephant Rock. The local Chinese simply called it Three Leg Rock. I am afraid it is no longer the idyllic scene as shown above. It used to be a fun picnic excursion site.

My expert contact in Singapore has informed me that there are similar RPPCs with a triangle at the back from Malaya and Singapore which were a collaboration between the Japanese publishers in Singapore and some Chinese photographers of The Federal Rubber Stamp Co. It is not known whether these same photographers took the pictures for North Borneo.