Friday, 25 November 2011

Elopura 2. A postmark study courtesy of a friend

We should all be grateful to my friend who "lent" his comprehensive collection of Elopura postmark variations for our appreciation.

                                               Elopura date inverted

                                            Elopura hand inserted year

                                               Elopura month inverted

                                           Elopura year/date different fonts

Thank you!


                                       an engraving in the Sabah Museum

                                                               William Burges Pryer

William Pryer in 1867 in Shanghai
working as a clerk with Thorne Bros & Co.

When Sandakan/Kampung German was burned down by accident on 15.6.1879, William B Pryer decided to move to new settlement near to the mouth of  Sandakan Bay. This was situated 12 miles from the old settlement which was further inside the bay to hide from marauding pirates. By this time, he had the confidence to do so because he had managed to gain the cooperation of the various tribal chiefs by having a plan to defy outside intruders.
On 21.6.1879, Pryer cut down the first tree at the new site. He named the city he had founded, Elopura, which means Beautiful City. This is the present day Buli Sim Sim area of  Sandakan  today where there was a narrow strip of land between the sea and the heavily forested hillside. It was a clever strategic choice as the township was screened to the north by dense mangrove and then out to sea, the island of Berhala blocked the view from the entrance of the bay. Behind the town were the hills where one could have a look out. With the help of the British navy he was able to consolidate the establishment of the new town. This was important as the Spanish as well as various native chiefs had their eyes on Elopura.
With time, the town  as well as the centre expanded southwards as more land is required. The natives continue to use the old name of Sandakan and as a result Elopura eventually became Sandakan again. At present, Elopura is the name given to   a state constituency centred around Bandar Kim Fung at mile 4 of Labuk Road in Sandakan. I tried to get a postmark there a few months back but it is practically undecipherable.

The postmark on the bottom stamp is very faint. Again it has been in my collection for years, unnoticed. I posted it because it has the inverted month AP in the date. All Ps for pm, no morning postal services in Elopura! 

A sample of Pryer's writing and signature

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

value for money?

My point is the value of these stamps has not really kept up with inflation. Take the 4x$25 mint revenue stamps issued in 1894 for instance. $100 in 1894 in NB was a large sum of money. Apparently, the annual pay of a postal clerk in 1900 was $360. The local postage rate in 1894 was 2c per half oz. The equivalent nowadays is 60c which means the $100 would be equivalent to MYR3,000 today. Using the British retail index in our calculation would yield a figure of MYR5,000. This block of 4 mint stamps should cost a lot less than MYR500 to buy today. All together, it was a very bad investment. 
A similar situation would apply to the 1948 4x$10 which would be equivalent to MYR300 today using relative postage rates. But using the British retail index would give an equivalent of MYR1,120 due to recent decades of high inflation. This block of 4x$10 is probably worth less than MYR350.
I am assuming the stamps were paid for at face value at the time of issue.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

early Kudat postmarks part 2

The first stamp has an attractive but faint torquoise D2 postmark of A AP 4 95 which is a transposed month as compared to the second stamp which I have posted before which has a conventional date setting of A 10 SP 94. I have not seen a Kudat D2 postmark with a P setting for pm. Looks like no afternoon postal services were available in those days! 

The year has a smaller font for the last two numerals.

High value D2 stamps with earlier version which has the year in full. The second stamp dates from 1883 and is not listed as used. It is probably a fiscal. The year looks like 1838 but more likely 1888. The last two numbers also seem a bit smaller. I presume this is the changeable part of the datestamp together with the day and month.
Update: It is more likely a mistake was made while making up the date plug with 38 put in instead of 83.

This 1887 stamp has the shortened form of the year in a D3 marking.

Both stamps have part of a D5 cancellation with the Maltese star. This is probably the more desirable of the early Kudat postmarks even though it is very much less rarer than the Kudat double circle BNBC postmark.

Beauford D6 1923-1930

The Beauford D6 is the most attractive of the Beauford postmarks. I hope they come in colour ink but I think it is unlikely.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Labuk & Sugut

The Labut & Sugut is one of the rarer of North Borneo postmarks. It probably ranks with Gantian and Tangkulap but below that of Sipitang and Ambong. I have been fortunate to have a stamp with a full on fairly legible franking.
This is what Owen Rutter wrote in his book, "British North Borneo" in 1922. He was working in the North Borneo civil service between 1910 and 1915.

"The Labuk and Sugut district, which forms part of the Sandakan Residency, is of vast extent and embraces the country
drained by the Labuk and Sugut and Paitan Rivers ; it joins 
the district of Marudu in the north and the Interior Residency 
in the west. Until recently the head-quarters of the district 
were Klagan, on the Labuk River, seven hours from Sandakan 
by launch, but owing to the difficulties of the bar and the fact 
that the station was continually being flooded it was moved 
to Beluran, in Labuk Bay. Although the Labuk River is 
nearly two hundred miles long, rising near the Ranau Plain in 
the uplands of Kinabalu, it is not navigable for more than 
fifteen ; the Sugut, which also has its source in the neighbour- 
hood of Kinabalu, is divided from the Labuk by a lofty range 
of hills, whose highest point is Mount Mentapok, 9,000 feet. 
It is worse than the Labuk for navigation, for no launches can 
get across its bar. Paitan, near which is the island of Jam- 
bongan, is reached in two days' march from Klagan, but with 
this exception nearly aU the traveUing has to be done by native 
boat, which has not made the district greatly sought after by 
officers in the Government service. The country, a region of 
vast, gloomy forests, is sparsely inhabited save in the neigh- 
bourhood of the rivers, where villages of Orang Sungei, or 
River Folk, are to be found." 
There is also a very good description of the arduous journey up the Labuk river in the late 19th century by Frank Hatton in dairies published posthumously by his father in :
North Borneo: Explorations and Adventures on the equator (1886)

The postmark was in use between 1903 and 1907 and postmarks outside this range were probably CTOs. The question I have is why is this postmark called Labuk & Sugut and  
not Klagan? I wonder whether it was a mobile type post office postmark rather than a 
town cancellation. As described above, this is a vast area and travel and communication 
was difficult even by river. Scattered thinly across this region were tobacco estates and 
timber concessions. The district officer in remote areas was very often a jack of all trades. It is possible that on his travels to visit his constituents in the far corners, he oblingingly 
brought along some postage stamps and the datestamp and acted as a postmaster of 
sorts. There he carefully applied the chop in the centre of the stamp. Well, he should 
have the time to do so as there would not have been many letters posted from this region.

click to enlarge.
This area is nowadays largely oil palm country.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Japanese occupation Showa overprints

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I would try to help in spotting some JO forgeries. This is a difficult and complex subject and I am definitely an amateur. The Showa overprints were carried out in the Chinese press at Kuching. Contrary to what was known before, there are definitely minor variations within a sheet of overprints. Looking at the pair of 1Y Buddha stamps above, one could see the minor differences in thickness and length of strokes in the japanese characters.

The 5s stamp is genuine but I believe the 10s has a fake overprint. Again there are some minor differences in the overprint.

Looking at the back, one could see an impression has been made at the back by the overprint on the 5s stamp but is fairly flat on the other stamp even though one could see the ink coming through. It does not show up that clearly on the scan.

Again a genuine 8s stamp with the same 10s stamp with forged overprint.

At the back of the 8s stamp, one could see some impression made by the overprint. I believe this is the easiest way to spot a fake Showa overprint even though it is definitely not fool proof. Over the weekend, I was attending the Philatex fair in London. One dealer was offering a good selection of the 20s Mount Fiji Showa stamp at a fair price. It is my favourite stamp in the set. I was going to buy but on examining the back and finding no indentation, I changed my mind. By the way, if you are buying used, make sure the date is August or September 1945. Because they use at least 2 different calender systems, I have on idea what it is supposed to look like. But they are still philatelic rather than of normal usage. 

Update Repeating this exercise with my small collection of 3 line overprints has yielded some disturbing results. The "Borneo Kita" inscription is exactly the same as the bottom line of the 3 line overprint. My 2 tarnished looking copies has definite indentation but my fresh looking stamps including a $1 used copy do not look so promising. The chop was also applied at the Chinese Press in Kuching.

Friday, 4 November 2011

1946 crown colony - lower broken bar

The third stamp has lower broken bar on the right. It is unlisted but probably not uncommon. 

More unlisted lower broken bar. 

Listed lower broken bar stamps.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

raised stop after postage due

The second stamp is a listed variety of "stop after due". The third stamp has a raised stop and is unlisted. I hope there are a few more which will be discovered. It would mean that it is a consistent error and has a chance of being catalogued.

Update I have taken a good look at this trio again and it is surprising how one can missed information that is staring at you directly. Firstly, the Jesselton cancellation is the the relatively less common D2 which I have been on the hunt for recently. Note the shortened and smaller numerals for the year 1905. 
The overprint "Postage Due" in the first and CTO stamp is different from the other two in being more clear and has a sharp tail to the letter G. This does not have the "stop" after DUE and is thought to have overprinted in the London offices and used for philatelic purposes. It is known in CTO and mint mainly.
The latter overprint is thought to have been carried out locally, probably at the government printing offices at Sandakan. They are less concise and unevenly inked with a blunt tail to the G. This printing has the variety with the stop after DUE. I am hopeful that my "raised stop" variety will be listed. My perf 15 variety of the carmine cross, SG204a is newly listed for the first time in the latest 2013 Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth catalogue but without a valuation. You can see the stamp on the link here.and here.   

Reference: The stamps and postal history of North Borneo parts 2 & 3.