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.