Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas treat 4. Labuk & Sugut and Christmas Is




There is not a lot more that I can write about this very rare cancellation than what was said in my previous posting here. We have quite an early usage date of 8 JUN 1903 which accounts for the clarity of this large part cancellation. To connoisseurs of postmarks, enjoy! 
Update A view of the Labuk in the days of Oscar Cook around 1917:
"The Labuk! Encircled with swamps and jungles, traversed by rivers, bound­ed by hills and sea. It is as if a soul were imprisoned within those mighty barriers; as if a slow, long, lingering tragedy were being enacted, as if through the years and years of the past, and through the years and years to come, this soul were striving for freedom, to reach the light of the sun. So, over the district there broods a spirit of somber sadness which touches and dwells in the hearts of its men."

       Map showing the vast area of Labuk & Sugut to the north west of Sandakan.


This is not an unworthy supporting act to the L&S. This cancellation is an elusive little gem which is seldom seen. To confuse matters, there are 4 separate places called Christmas Island. The one here is part of Australia and is located in the Indian Ocean.  It was annexed by Britain in 1888 and administered as part of the Straits Settlements until WWII. Straits stamps were in use from 1901. Due to the small population at the time which composed mainly of labourers and just over a dozen Europeans involved in the extraction of phosphate, the post office was not busy. This accounted for the rarity of this postmark and associated postal history.
This is my final post for 2012. Who knows what pleasant surprises await next year now that the end of the Mayan calender has been and gone a few minutes ago.
Update A 3c Straits stamp with a clear postmark of  21 OC 1903, early usage, was sold in Australia for AUD 420. This gives an idea how desirable this cancellation is.

Map showing position of Christmas Is in the Indian Ocean. I think there is a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur. Might be worth visiting.

A philatelic but still quite valuable item but showing the double circle Straits type cds very well. We also have the bonus of a clear  registration label. From 1945, a single circle cds with the date in one line was used. This cover is dated DE 6 1937. On the back is a transit cancellation in Singapore of 16 DE 1937 and also a registration cachet for Bedford of 28 DEC 37. It took just over 3 weeks to reach its destination.
A similar item but non registered went for 400AUD a few years ago.

Cocos Is lies to the west of Christmas Is. They also made use of Straits and Singapore stamps for a time. This single circle cds was was introduced the previous year in 1952. Before the war, it had a double circle Straits type date stamp with solid bar killers like Christmas Is. And earlier than that was a double circle cds without the bars. The straits type cancellations are quite rare. The date of the postmark on this FDC was 2JUN53 and on the back is an arrival marking for London of 17 JNE 1953 which meant it languished somewhere in Australia even though there is no transit marking before boarding the plane to London.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Christmas treat 3. Undated Double Ring Cancels

The undated double ring cancels were among the earliest of postmarks used in North Borneo. There were 3 post offices which were issued with this type of  handstamps. They were Sandakan, Kudat and Gaya.

A good example on a rather grotty stamp. But beggars can not be choosers! Well, until I get a better example, this 1883 SG3 has and will have pride of place in my album.

This 1883 SG7 is almost certainly from Sandakan as here the cancel was available both in red and blue. Both Gayah and Kudat have only red versions.
What has been described as blue is more likely indigo as seen in this fresh example. Indigo ink pads were sometimes used as an alternative after it was found that the red (or more accurately orange red) ink which was used washed off rather easily or yielded a cancellation that was too faint.

The black double ring cancellation was from Singapore which was used on an adjacent Straits stamp for overseas mail. Otherwise we have SG1 with a very nice Sandakan 14 bar cancellation.

Likewise we have another SG1 but with an AC cancel in blue. We are not entirely sure of the purpose or origin of this cancel. There are 2 main theories. It was thought that it was a company chop of Abrahamson & Co to mark used stamps on cover. But then how could it have been regarded as an official marking for postal purposes? It had been helpfully mentioned to me that the presence of this marking on the very earliest of NB adhesives means the stamp is genuine.
It has also been suggested that the treasurer general of the time, Alexander Cook, was responsible for this marking. Again, the reasons behind it remain obscure. We also have the black Singapore double ringer to mark overseas mail.

Ps I have added an update to my previous post on Airmail hand stamp. You can see it by clicking here.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Christmas Treat 2. Kudat BNBC

The double ring Kudat BNBC cancel is probably one of the rarest of North Borneo cancellations which accounts for the reason that this is only one that I have handled thus far. We have a very good 1894 $5 stamp here with a fair example. The name of the town is discernible and one of the Maltese crosses is almost complete. The date is clear but the letters BNBC for British North Borneo Corporation is fairly faint. However, the great thing is that I only paid for the intrinsic value of the stamp with this special marking as a bonus.
According to Proud, this cancellation is only seen on high values off cover and probably indicates fiscal use. It was later superseded by a double ring Kudat BNB cancel which you can see here. The two Sandakan BNBCs are relatively more easy to find on both high values and in particular the 3c stamps of the 1900s. On low values, it probably represented some form of levy applied at the Sandakan offices. You can see my Sandakan BNBCs by clicking herehere, here, and here.
I have still to find my Jesselton BNBC cancelled stamp and conceivably this could be a more uncommon cancellation. This latter marking is not even mentioned in Ted Proud's book.

This is the double ring Kudat BNB fiscal cancellation on a 1911 perf 15 50c stamp.

An arrival slogan, probably GB, of  "Post Early (for) Christmas". With this, I would like to thank readers for their support and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Happy New Year!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Christmas treat 1. Double Imperforated Happiness!! Dollaps!




I have to count myself lucky to get this item due to the lack of competition. It is a North Borneo classic with the error "TEN DOLLAPS" at the bottom of the left stamp of the imperf pair. This occurs on the first stamp of the second row or R2/1. One could see a tiny dot where the missing right leg of "R" should have been.
This error only appears in stamps from the first of two transfers in the lithographic printing process. Stamps from transfer A have a yellow-brown colour whereas B is more of a brown colour.
With this stamp in the collection, one can feel sort of "arrived". This item also comes with a BPA certificate which is an added bonus.

I was also offered by the same auction house the above item at a giveaway price. There were no bids probably because it has no gum and someone in the past seems not to be too handy with a pair of scissors. It is still quite an attractive item but obviously not exhibition material. I have since found that this pair of imperf stamps is commonly without gum and probably was never gummed in the first place.
Update These are actually ungummed plate proofs in issued colours.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The case for a third single circle Train Mail cancel

I previously showed some used stamps with a difficult to fit Train Mail postmark. Recently, I acquired a group of similar stamps and repeated the exercise with the same results.

This cancellation fits D10 quite nicely, Curiously, it has exactly the same date of 11 JUN 62 which was the first recorded date for a Proud D10.

 A Train Mail cancel which fits well with a Proud D9 with the date of 21 NOV 59.

On piece, we have a 1954 QE 10c stamp but unfortunately not the "extra chimney" variety but an almost complete Train Mail with the date of 7 SEP ??.

This postmark is not a D10 but does not fit D9 by a significant margin. It has the date of 12 AUG 58.

But it fits the postmark on piece very well. It looks like these two used stamps has a SC Train Mail cancellation which is yet to be classified.




This is confirmed by the above measurements. The D9 and D10 from Proud's standard reference both measures 25mm. My proposed third SC Train Mail postmark on the two items on piece both measures 26mm. Please also take note how the line drawn from the second leg of the letter "N" in TRAIN transects the letter "B" in BORNEO.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Some relatively uncommon items

It is probably a bit boring this week showing some early items which are relatively uncommon especially in good overall condition.

It is hard to understand the need for this stamp unless it was for revenue purposes. The other is the peculiarity of design. There are seven oars protruding from the side of the ship on this stamp whereas there are eight oars in the 1c stamp. Note the white dot above the right side of "N" in "BORNEO". It might give some idea to its position on a sheet of 50. There was only one transfer used in the printing process.

The 1886 1 cent orange is similar in design to SG1 but perforated 14.  There was only one transfer used during printing as there was little need for a stamp of this value for postal purposes which accounted for its rarity as used items.

The same stamp as above but imperforated. It is normally priced as a pair mint or CTO.

This forgery is actually not that common. It looks rouletted instead of the usual perforations. It probably originated from Italy. Well known forgers such as Nino Imperator of Genoa and Erasmo Oneglia of Turin would be among the prime suspects. 
When compared to the 4c stamp just below, one can see that the colour is the wrong shade and the details are less well defined. The main giveaway is the chinese characters on the right. For some reason, it was wrongly inscribed 2 cents in chinese instead of 4c. This error is present in all the forged values of this issue.

The 3 cents provisional of 1886 was hardly justified unlike the 5 cents which was the rate for newspapers to the UK and also the rate per 2 oz for sending books and printed material, again to the UK. The 3 cents has the the very rare variety small "3" which occurred on one stamp per sheet of 50, as the fourth stamp on the third row, stamp number 24 or R3/4.

This is the perf 12 variety. The condition of the perforations on this stamp is actually quite good in comparison to similarly perforated stamps of this 1883 issue. This is a used item with the Sandakan 14 bar cancel which was normally used to frank used stamps on cover during this period. The town postmark was usually elsewhere on the envelope. However, this item also has part of a red Sandakan postmark, invariably a D3.

This untidy looking perf 12 specimen has the undated dumb cancel from Singapore which signified use for overseas mail. It is an uncommon cancellation on this stamp.

Another perf12 stamp which I find rarely in a used condition. I would have preferred some sort of cds but it would do for the time being as my dealer friend let me have it for £45, a very deep discount to the £350 SG catalogue value.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

extra chimney variety

It has been said that philately is the art of uncovering mistakes and imperfections.


This variety on the North Borneo 1954 10c stamp (SG378) was first written about by a prominent member of the Sarawak Specialist Society in the Sarawak Journal in 1972. It was later positioned as the top right stamp on a sheet, R1/10. To date, this variety has not been noticed in the very similar 1950 George V 10c stamp.
It was brought to my attention a few months ago by the June edition of  Gibbons Stamp monthly. The catalogue editor has strongly implied that this variety would be included in the 2014 edition of the Stanley Gibbons catalogue after 40 years!
So how uncommon is this stamp? To date, I have only seen 4 copies of this variety after perusing much in excess of a hundred over copies of this stamp. Two of the stamps are shown above, a mint and a used example, between which is the normal for comparison. I also had sight of the part mint sheet with its position in the possession of a fellow member of the society. The variety is shown as an "extra chimney" on the sawmill at the top of the design. There is at least one example of this stamp on cover.                                

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Update on a previous post


I have updated some interesting information on my previous post in November 2011 on some postage due stamps. You can read  it by clicking here.


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Colour Trials of the 1888/1889 high values





These were provided by the printers before the final colour was chosen. They are probably uncommon rather than rare. Being visually attractive, they are therefore much sought after, making a useful addition to any collection. The $2 is available in at least a dozen different colours or shades. Similarly, the $5 and $10 were seen in many colours and some are yet to be listed. A comprehensive description is given in part 1 of The stamps and postal history of North Borneo by L H Shipman. 
Some of the colour trials are also available without perforations in the centre. There is at least 1 centrally perforated $5 with separate cancellations in both halves which led onto a suggestion that there might have been some other use for these adhesives, for instance, as telegram stamps.
It is amazing how fresh and new they look after more than 120 years!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

pen cancels

Pen cancels were the earliest postal markings, even though they were mainly crude lines used to defaced the stamps, before dated hand stamps became available. Later on, it took on a fiscal function. The most attractive pen cancels would have the initials of the person responsible. Some of these belonged to well known individuals who were an important part of the history of North Borneo.

We have a date of 16.3.09 and possible initials or code of PGCH or thereabouts. Any input from readers would be welcome.

A pen cancel with the date 24.3.90 with the possible initials of JHH.

It is rather unusual to have both a pen cancel as well as a date stamp. It is a Sandakan postmark with the same St Valentine's date of 14/2/95.

 A 1894 $10 stamp with both a pen cancel of 6/11/97 and some form of a blue fiscal cancel.

This revenue stamp should have either a fiscal or pen cancel but is also often found with a bar cancellation.

We have a remarkable trio of 1888 3c stamps with both fiscal and bar cancellations. The first stamp has a 17 bar cancel which is less commonly seen on this issue of stamps. These old Chinese script are at best undecipherable but I would welcome any suggestions. The third adhesive has part of a word visible her(?e). It would have been too much to hope that it could be William Treacher as he left service in 1887.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Some interesting Postal Stationary Cards PSC

It has been said that philately is the art of uncovering mistakes and errors!

1889 8c PSC for overseas mail. This unused item has the error of  "inverted 8" at the NW and SW corners. It is not rare but more difficult to find in used condition. This card also exists with surcharges due to changes in postage rates. To date there is possibly only one example of the surcharged card with the error recorded, on a card surcharged 4c.

Well, here is the used "inverted 8" card that I managed to obtain at the auction of the Sarawak Society AGM  over the weekend. It is plainly philatelic without a message. It was posted in Sandakan on 21 MY 1894 and arrived at The Haque in Holland on 29 JUN 94.

An overpaid used item addressed locally. There is no message at the back. Mansfield, Bogaardt & Co was an Anglo-Dutch shipping company with an office in Sandakan. Someone in the company was evidently a collector. 


A philatelic item bearing a 19 bar cancellation. This "eye shaped" cancel is different from the one illustrated in Proud's book in being significantly wider. The card also has a Sandakan D4 in red with a partial dotted circle.
There is a transit cancellation for Singapore at the back and an arrival postmark for Erfurt in Germany addressed to a well known stamp dealer of the time.
It took 7 days to get to Singapore and then arrived in Germany just over 2 weeks later, probably a bit faster than sea mail nowadays.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

some fiscals and a facsimile



A very nice fiscal cancel which should read Harbour Department Kudat and showing the crest of the British North Borneo Company.

This is another fine looking fiscal chop. One can just make out the word "Sandakan". It is possibly of a  government department in origin.
Update I have a suggestion that this could be Mansfield Bogarrdt &co type 3. I am handicapped in not having Ivor Moore's book even though I have been talking to the great man himself this weekend at our AGM.

This is not a postmark with deduction of the words (Sanda)kan N. Born(eo). It should be of a commercial origin.

Besides a good partial Sandakan D10 BNBC cancel, we also have "Darby & Co" in pale pinkish red. This was a British shipping and trading company and possibly later on became involved with rubber plantations.

The chop says Singapore but for what purpose remains a mystery to me.


A $2 revenue perfin stamp with the fiscal cancel of (?Lan)d Office showing a partial date of AU(gust) (19)19. And a "used" $1 revenue perfin but the cancellation is not clear.

A facsimile based on the 1883 50c stamp which was distributed by a french philatelic publication and would be contemporary to the stamp.