Monday, 21 May 2012
Bar cancel conundrums
It had been postulated this could have been a paquebot or arrival postmark for mail travelling to or via Labuan. This is smaller and rather different to the 9 bar cancellation of Labuan. And the use of bar cancellation for postage purposes in Labuan stopped in the early 1890s. This stamp was issued in 1907.
The other two possibilities are that this was some kind of fiscal or temporary cancellation but then why should it be confined to the lower value stamps of the 1907 series?
The quality of the marking would point to a temporary hand stamp that was not of normal construction with metal or rubber. It might also have been down to a particular ink or ink pad that was used.
And also the dates just do not tally. According to Proud, the 14 bar was used postally until 1891 and the 13 bar until 1886.
And then what is this stamp doing in Sandakan as postage dues were used at the local post office on payment for an underpaid postal item? Does that reflect the flexibility in the use of stamps of both territories when Labuan was ruled by the British North Borneo Chartered Company from 1890 to 1904?
The most likely explanation could be that, when this stamp was CTO in London for mass consumption, the wrong bar hand stamp was used. But then CTOs are usually found at the corners of stamps. The position of the cancellation would implied normal use. Could it be a fake? But that would not make any financial sense. The nature of this cancel remains unclear.
Incidentally, the most famous Labuan stamp is a variety of this 8c stamp with the frame inverted. Only 33 copies were recorded which were CTO (corner cancellation) at the London office. They were sold as part of a cheap package of stamps. The stamp would have had originated from a sheet of 50 or 100. It is quite possible that some are still undiscovered, lurking in someone's grandfather's schoolboy collection!