Friday, 27 December 2013

Fiscal Heaven 3

These are inverted versions of relatively uncommon fiscal perfins of North Borneo. They do not show up that well with an ordinary scan. With background illumination and photography, the details are clearly evident. The photos were taken using a Samsung Galaxy phone.

Scanned version of a inverted "Judicial" perfin.

Photo taken by placing stamp on lamp shade and then edited accordingly with photoshop.

This is with background daylight suspended in a transparency.

Scanned version of a inverted "Revenue" perfin.

With lamp shade in the background.

With a background of natural daylight.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas Treat 2013: Fiscal Heaven 2

The cancellation for The Sabah Steamship Co. Ld / Incorporated at Sandakan / B.N.Borneo. This was founded by Harry Pfort, a former Blue Funnel ship captain. See Europe and the Maritime World: A Twentieth Century History page 66.

This could be the cancellation for The Residency of Kudat or of Sillam. I fancy the latter as it is in red.

I have shown the lower part before. Recently acquired the cancellation on the 1892 1c overprint and this cancellation is probably more uncommon on the lower values.

Lastly, season's greetings and best of luck philatelically for the coming year. Proud's book is the reference text for postal history of our territories.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas Treat 2013: Fiscal Heaven 1

There has been quite a bit of interest in fiscal cancellations of late. Almost certainly, they are going for good prices when previously it might have been possible to get them for pennies or a few pounds.
The cancellations are visually more attractive usually.They tend to be quite large with the need to frank the document as well. So it is not that easy to obtain a satisfactory example. But the items should be considered as fiscal labels rather than postage stamps even though the term fiscal stamps is often used.
The following are composites of one of the commoner cancellations. Rather nice!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Real Photo Postcards or RPPC

Real Photo Postcards or RPPC are more uncommon than normal photogravure printed postcards as they were not produced in commercial quantities. It is unlikely that an individual item is unique but they were almost certainly printed in limited numbers.

I am not really much further in my knowledge of these 2 RPPCs. This scene is definitely Labuan as I have seen a very similar colour postcard from Labuan taken from almost the same direction. That was much later as deduced by the development of the shrubbery in the locality.
This postcard has a North Borneo stamp with a Labuan D7 cancellation with the date of 21 OCT 1908. It transited in Singapore on OC 26 1908 on its way to Germany. Labuan joined with Straits Settlements the previous year but somehow NB stamps were still valid for postage.

This item was sent at the same time as the one above and bears similar postal cancellations. This is a scene from Lahad Datu as confirmed by different pictures in existence taken from different perspectives.
The spelling of the name of this town went through a few minor changes in the early years. Here it is spelled "Lahad Datu" which is the final agreed version. But interestingly, the version used on the concurrent postal cancellation D3 (1902-1909) was "Lahat Datu".
Presently, while awaiting further evidence, I am assuming both these cards were produced in limited quantities locally in Labuan either by an enterprising individual or an actual photographic studio for sale. It is also very possible that these cards were commissioned privately by the sender. This is because there is a short message on the LD card to imply the photo was taken earlier on 13 October 08.
The quality of the images would have been better if produced overseas. It would also have been more expensive. As it stands, they should be incredibly uncommon.

This is definitely a self made and one off RPPC. The plaque in the photo is self explanatory. This concludes my recent series on postcards until such time when other interesting items are available.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Two foreign postcards

The earliest known picture postcard sent from North Borneo was dated 3 Feb 1903. The card and the scene depicted was from the Philippines. This was originally in the Cassels collection.
The following 2 foreign postcards consisted of one outgoing card from the Dutch Indies but used in Kudat and one incoming postcard from Italy.

This postcard shows the residency in Medan, Deli in Sumatra. On the side, it says that the publisher was J Hallermann, Medan. Medan is the fourth largest city in Indonesia located in Northern Sumatra. It was a very important centre for tobacco plantations.

It was sent from Kudat on the 26 AUG 1906 and transited in Jesselton on the 28. It then passed through Singapore on SE 3 on its way to Holland to the well known name of  Van Houten, manager of the Langkon estate. This was a rubber plantation in the the early 20th century located near to Kudat. The name Van Houten also appears on some plagiarised cinderella stamps of North Borneo. Note the Esq after his name. This Dutchman was somewhat anglicised!
But there were probably more than one Van Houten. F Van Houten was the planter and G was probably a relative in Holland. Confusingly, there was also a J Van Houten given as manager of the Langkon estate in a newspaper advert in September 1906. I presume J was the same person as F.
The Langkon estate was originally planted with tobacco under the ownerhip of Houten. This was absorbed by the bigger public company of Langkon North Borneo Rubber Ltd in 1906 with Houten appointed as manager.
There was a glowing report of his competence in the initial company meeting in June of that year. However, by the fifth general meeting of the shareholders in November 1911, he was severely criticised and a new manager was in post.
In March 1911, F Van Houten was mentioned as the manager of  Tungud Rubber Estates Ltd. in Labuk. Apparently, he was appointed to run the estate the previous year but had to close due to the lack of funding as he overextended the initial expenditure provided. He asked the governor for compensation unsuccessfully and was bankrupted.

Some old photographs from the Langkon Estate. One has the impression that estates like this were mini self sufficient towns and communities.

A colour picture postcard from Siena in Italy to F Philippe in Sandakan. F Philippe was the correspondent name used by Philippe Bernard Funk. The Italian stamp on the front of the card interestingly has a Singapore cancellation for SE 5 1907 which is also present on the back. Incoming cards to Funk are rather uncommon.
It was originally postmarked in Sinalunga, Siena with a nice square circle cancellation on 11/8/07. It was sent by a Cav. Ferrari, but not the same as Philip von Ferrary who was said to have owned the most complete collection of postal rarities in the early 20th century including the Treskilling Yellow of Sweden and the 1856 one-cent "Black on Magenta" British Guiana.
We have the clearly dated cancellations for Jesselton and Sandakan. The GPO was located at Jesselton which was the main centre for incoming mail except for mail from or via  HK which went directly to Sandakan when bounded for destinations on the east coast.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

More views of Sandakan

These two postcards are really nice and gives a flavour of life and what it looked like in the early 1900s.

This is a greenish tinted postcard sent in the middle of 1914. It showed a popular view of Sandakan from a vantage point on Bukit Merah, probably quite near to where the present observation platform is today. It is not far from the Agnes Keith House.
The publisher of the card is unknown. The buildings nowadays are completely different. The clock tower can be seen near the middle of the photo and next to it, the government buildings. Does anybody recognise the ship in the harbour?  I have been reliably informed that the jetty on the right could be Gueritz's folly or the coaling pier. E P Gueritz was one of the governors of North Borneo.
I have seen a rare photograph of this similar scene taken by Osa and Martin Johnson while on their safari to North Borneo in 1920. The area of the coaling pier is no more and is now reclaimed land.

Both these cards were sent on the same day from Sandakan by the same person to different addresses. They have the same format at the back and so came from the same source, probably GB. These two scene are also similarly replicated early in the Funk series of postcards. It is not certain which ones came first as they have similar dates of usage.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

More postcards

I thought I will continue with some more of the postcards that I displayed at our recent Sarawak Society AGM.

I found this postcard scene very idyllic and interesting. It is not certain where in Sandakan it was taken. It was suggested that it might have been near to Singapore Rd by the old temple. But the background is more hilly there as the road runs through a little valley. A rural area like Bukit Merah or the track to Kebun China before North/Labuk Road came into being would have been a more likely candidate.

To complicate matters it was sent from Lahad Datu on 5 NOV 1911 and transited at Sandakan on 9 NOV 1911. The message was all in Dutch. Perhaps I should have asked my Dutch friend for a translation. It was presumably from someone working at or was affiliated to the large tobacco farm in the area.The message was written earlier in September. We also have the arrival marking for Holland.

This is a relatively modern postcard with an unremarkable scene of Mt Kinabalu. I was puzzled by the datestamp with the "year in a box" but it was helpfully suggested to me at the AGM that it was likely to be due to a loosed year slug. This was one of the very first machine cancels used in Sabah.
Actually, what interested me more was the rectangular air mail cachet with a picture of a modern looking jet plane. I think it is probably quite uncommon not having seen another example before.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

A Sanbride postcard

The origin of this type of fairly uncommon postcards was obscured until recently. By using a series of cross references, I am now able to shed some light on it.

Coloured North Borneo postcards of this period are not common. The colour was either added by hand before printing or in this case actual colour plates were used. We have an attractive scene here of the crossing of the Padas River at Beaufort by boat and ferry. The figures in white wearing a hat or settling under an umbrella were most probably Europeans in positions of importance in government or employed by the plantations.
For information of those times, I would suggest reading the first 2 chapters of Oscar Cook's book "Borneo. The stealer of hearts". He was assistant district officer in nearby Tenom.

It was posted from Jesselton but the date is not clear except for the year of 1919. There is an arrival cds for Cheltenham of 3 JA 1920. There is also a hand written date of 21/11/19. The exciting bit is that this is a San Bride postcard as seen by the words at the bottom of the logo. San Bride postcards of North Borneo can be regarded as very uncommon.
A member of our society based in Sabah has seen similar cards of Jesselton, Papar, Beaufort shop houses, Labuan and Brunei. He has helpfully suggested that this might indicate that the photographer was based on the west coast. It will be very interesting to find out who he was. My feelers are out on this one for definite.
The logo consist of a church steeple with the words San Bride below which has intrigued postcard collectors for ages. Most of the NB postcards eg those by Funk were printed in Germany to quite a high standard and in commercial quantities.
The present perception would indicate that these postcards were only printed in limited quantities which would not have been commercially viable for the German printers. Even so, the printing of these colour postcards by photogravure or the similar halftone process can be expensive.  It was very likely to be a small printing firm of European origin due to the nature of the logo.

St Bride's Church, Fleet St, London

Having come across some black and white GB photos listed as being printed by Sanbride press of Middlesbrough, your scribe was able to track down further information as shown above. Almost certainly, these postcards were printed by Hood & Co. of Sanbride Press, Middlebrough, Cleveland, GB. There is a likelihood that the person responsible for the NB Sanbride postcards would have had some connection to this area to be aware of the firm and arranged for the printing.
The steeple depicted was more probably to be that of St Bride's Church, Fleet St, London designed by Sir Christopher Wren rather than the one shown in the advertisement with St Maclou at Rouen in France. So why was St Bride's steeple used as the logo while the company was based way up North?
The St Bride Printing School located just off Fleet Street, London was opened in 1895. It provided tuition for local printers and students especially when Fleet Street was the centre of the newspaper industry in London. As it grew in size, it was relocated elsewhere and is now known as The London School of Communication. However, the St Bride Foundation Institute is still on Fleet street. My supposition would be that the original proprietor of Sanbride Press was trained at this institution.

Coming back to the NB postcards, it is unlikely that there was an extended series of these photogravure cards. As seen from the advertisement above, Sanbride was willing to do small batches of subjects from 6 to 12 upwards. And also the quoted price of 44 shillings per 1000 which worked out at about 0.5d which in turn equates to about 0.2p of today's money a card would seem very affordable.

Update: This company probably dated from as early as the 1880s. The logo that was was used on earlier postcards was smaller and simpler. And the earliest postcards did not have any logo and just "sanbride" in small letters on the front on the bottom right side and also in letters as part of the "T" divider at the back.
middle of card

right top corner probably older

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Transitional period covers of North Borneo/Sabah

The transitional period between the change of name from North Borneo to Sabah just before becoming part of Malaysia was and is confusing philatetically for both the postal authorities and collectors. The old cancellers were used before the arrival of the new ones. The 1961 adhesives were eligible for use until and also after the overprinted with "SABAH" stamps became available on 1st July 1963.

Sabah only became part of Malaysia on the 16th September 1963 after adopting its present name about 2 week s earlier on 31 August. Sabah was actually the old name that was used when it was part of Brunei. The very old official documents would have this name until it was changed by the British.
The origin of this name remains obscure but I favour  the theory that it was derived from an old Bruneian Malay word meaning "north of the river" being situated to the north of Brunei.
The above FDC has the colonial Australian type cancellation of Sandakan North Borneo dated 16SE1963 on the first issue of Malaysia stamps. The label on the top left corner was pasted to hide the wrong date of 31 August 1963.

This is a similar FDC with the third set of Malaysia stamps cancelled with Sandakan North Borneo on 4NO63.

This is a commercially used item with the Australian type cancellation of Tawau Malaysia with a date of 9OC63. These 3 covers were obtained last weekend in the auction during the Sarawak Specialist Society AGM weekend. Many exceptional items were shown and discussed over those 3 days. The auction had a wide and in depth range of material which is not normally available elsewhere. To take part, one has to be a member. The annual subscription is £15 including 4 journals where you may see some of my contributions. A link to the society website is to be found towards the bottom of this page.

Similarly, we have the not overprinted North Borneo stamps used after the name was changed to Sabah with the corresponding cds. The last set of North Borneo stamps which originally came out in 1961 was valid until the end of 1971. So potentially there are quite a few of these covers and single stamps like the ones I showed previously by clicking on the link here.  But in practice that is not so. Perhaps there are more of these items locally in Malaysia or Singapore.
The challenge is to collect the more obscure post offices of that period and this includes the North Borneo cancellations on Sabah/Malaysia stamps and covers. Strange enough I can not find the date as to when these Sabah Malaysia cancellations started.
Actually, the very collectible are the various town triple ring cachets used to endorse covers of this period. Unfortunately, I do not have any to show. They are expensive but I do know of people who have many.
The other points of particular interest in this cover would include that this was a leftover colonial official cover which should have had the OHMS bit crossed out. Strangely enough, it has a post date of 14JUL64 and the blue endorsed cachet has a date 13 JUL 1964 from some department in Tanjong Aru Jesselton. The top right of the stamp also has the perforation guide line.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

North Borneo cigarette cards

I know. I know. These are not stamps but they are irresistibly attractive and cost very little money. Cigarette cards like these are not common. They are compact and small enough for any stamp album. 

This prewar embossed cigarette card was German or more precisely Dresden in origin from the Sultan cigarette factory Aurelia. It is number 194 of the series. This was supposed to depict an Olympic banner but I would be very surprised if North Borneo had taken part in the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

This cigarette card was from Abdulla & Co of Berlin and dated from 1932. North Borneo was number 97 in the series of 110 cards. There were none on Brunei, Labuan or Sarawak in this series. The Abdulla cigarette company was originally based in Mayfair in London but was bought up by Geoffrey Morris, a larger competitor which later became Philip Morris International.

This is number 19 in the series of cigarette cards from British American Tobacco or BAT in short. It was printed on silk in 1910. I have found this to be an attractive and desirable item showing the arms of North Borneo very well in colour.
Update Has anyone noticed the mistake here? The motto should be "Pergo et Perago" and not "Perco et Peraco". Evidently, people at BAT were not familiar with Latin.

W D & H O Wills, Bristol & London was part of Imperial Tobacco Co. This is card 22 of a series from 1910 on the arms of the British Empire. The scan does not do it justice as part of it was painted in gold and it simmers when looking from an angle.

This is from a later series from 1926 and is card number 16 out of 25. This is a bigger card with a simpler design and also partly painted in gold.

This is actually an embossed seal and was probably from some official stationary.