Friday, 29 March 2013

Sarawak ship letters and a couple of TPOs

Ship letters or the more accurate term is consignee's letters were carried on ships mainly of the Sarawak Steamship company plying the route to Singapore. The following quote from the Sarawak handbook by Forrrester-Wood would explain the process involved:
"any person shipping goods can hand to the master of the ship documents concerning his consignment. Nothing may be enclosed in the cover other than invoices, bills of lading or similar papers".
Strictly speaking, these covers should be clearly endorsed 'Consignee's letter', but this rule does not seem to be observed.

The M V Giang Lee was one of three ships operated by the operated by the Heap Eng Mo Steamship Co. This was a company based in Singapore. The Giang Lee was built in Hong Kong in 1958 and was 576 feet long makes regular runs between Kuching, Sarikei, Binatang, Sibu and Singapore. The vessel carries general cargo and timber and was registered in Singapore.

The S S Darvel was built on the east coast of Scotland by the Caledon Ship Building Co. at Dundee in 1924, designed specifically for the Singapore-Sarawak-North Borneo/Sabah service. This Straits Steamship Company vessel operated a twice weekly service.
On 11th February 1929 the ship ran aground on a sandbank at Sandakan. As this occurred on a very high tide it was not until two months later when it could be re-floated. The weekly service was maintained throughout the 1930s until the WWII. It served with distinction as a troop and supply ship and almost got sunk. After the war it resumed its previous role. It was the first coastal ship to be operated by a merchant company in Borneo after the withdrawal of the Australian forces. The ship mark was mainly used in the 1950s. It was eventually scrapped in 1960.

The S S Belaga was one of the ships of the Sarawak Steampship Company. It was originally named the S S Empire Palace until 1949 and was built in 1945  by William Hamilton of Port Glasgow. The ship was used on the Rejang river until 1958 when she was sold on to other operators. She was finally scrapped in 1971. There are two known cancellations for S S Belaga but only the ones used in the few years postwar were not philatelic. 

The M V Bruas was another vessel of the Sarawak Steamship Company. It was serving the route between Sibu and Singapore. However, there is evidence that the above cover and ones similar to it bearing the same 1952 8c stamp were purely philatelic and had never fulfilled a postal purpose. 

There were a series of TPOs in Sarawak in the 1960s to 70s from 1 to 18. TPO1 connects Kuching with some out lying areas 30 miles to the south west.

TPO2 was known to serve Simunjan in the 1960s. 15c was probably the rate for local letters. There is and was no public railway system in Sarawak. The travelling post offices made use of vans or more likely, 4 wheel drive vehicles which were more suitable to the terrain.
This should be the last of the transport related material from Sarawak that I can show for the time being. Next week, we shall look at some stuff on the same theme from Brunei.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Various Sarawak paquebot cancellations

The majority of the paquebot markings were not of the cds type. Kuching has the most varieties being the capital. Mail on maritime vessels from out stations would be cancelled at Kuching on arrival before being delivered locally or sent overseas. Of course, there was mail going the other way in smaller volumes and one could postulate that the majority did not survive the rigors of the climate as compared to overseas mail to temperate countries where they were also more likely to be collected. One of the things that we should be grateful to Britain is the condition of the commonwealth stamps which were there for "safe keeping".

It is difficult to be sure but I think this is a Sibuti SL2 with a small premium of x 3 rather than a Sibu SL3 due to the slight slant in the vertical stroke of the "T". It should be uncommon as Sibuti has a background rating of 250 in Proud's book.

 I think this is the Kuching SL4 in faint blue ink and has a premium of x 10.

Update 10 May 2014
This is Kuching SL3 with a date around 1924.

The SL11 of Kuching has a "double fish tail" at each end  of the box which is usually not seen. It is shown quite well here on the left in contrast to the illustration in Proud's book.

Update 10 May 2014
This is another SL11 but this time the ends are open.

This SL12 is one of two of the most uncommon of the Kuching paquebot cancellation with a value of x 60. It was in use between August 1953 and September 1955. Note the two lines are not exactly parallel or straight.

I have not tried to identify this one due to the faint cancellation. However, the stamp has a good background story. There was understandable controversy in depicting a native girl in a state of semi undress. She was one of the daughters of the hereditary chief of the Dayaks in Sarawak and may still be alive.
It had been described as a "cadet" stamp in which it was hoped that it would entice young British recruits to seek work in Sarawak in those days!

This is the other uncommon Kuching paquebot SL10 with a premium value of x 60. It was used between 1947 and 1948.

This is the Kuching SL11 with the "double fish tail " on the other side of the box bearing in mind the cancellation is inverted on the cover.

Update 04 May 2014
Just got this one recently and was surprised that it matches Brunei SL5 with letters in seriff rather than any of the Sarawak paquebot markings of the time. This means that it was posted on the boat going to Brunei.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Sarawak Singapore paquebots

Resuming the theme of these weeks, these type of stamps are not uncommon and is an interesting topic to collect. Sarawak has many many rivers and the roads in those  days were almost non existent. Consequently, the bulk of communication and trade was by sea or river worthy vessels. The amount and variety of paquebot material emanating from Sarawak far surpasses that of North Borneo due the larger number of towns and a more advanced trading economy. The following are stamps cancelled by various Singapore paquebot markings.

A paquebot cancellation which was used at Singapore from 1912-17. The stamp also has a normal straits type postmark.

This paquebot cancellation was in use between 1925 to 1936. It is fairly common. The following are more of the same. The completed markings are from Roger Hosking's book.
I quote from an old issue of the Sarawak Journal:
"Before the war each vessel which carried mails, not only internally, but also to Singapore, was, as long as it was on a regular schedule, provided with a posting-box on board, and letters were accepted right up to sailing time."

Update 10 May 2014

This is a rather nice complete cancellation on a block of 4 stamps and another later paquebot cancellation that is also sometimes seen on North Borneo stamps.

This last one does not conform to any of the 3 cds in Hosking's book. However, I do not have the latest edition. It could be an unrecorded cancellation. There are still discoveries to be made.

A cover with the same type of paquebot cds with the date of 24 NO 19(36). It was sent by ordinary sea mail. There is an arrival cancellation for London of 21 DEC 1936 and a pre Christmas slogan.
J C Swayne arrived as a cadet in Sarawak in 1912 and among his jobs was that of postmaster at Sibu. He eventually made it back to England. Not surprisingly, he collected Sarawak and was one of the very first members of the Sarawak Specialist Society.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Lahad Datu

The present situation in that area is giving some cause for concern. I was hoping my much anticipated tour of Sabah in April would not be affected but it is very much in doubt. I will not go into the politics of it here because I have more or less waived my rights for being a long term resident overseas. But I can at least say this. It is universally accepted in any modern democracy that all citizens are fundamentally entitled to a choice in self determination by exercising the right to vote and not through force or coercion. History is but a tool in making a decision such as this.

This blog went viral last weekend with more than a hundred hits on Saturday alone. The item that netizens were mainly interested in was my posting in December 2011 because there was a brief summary of the history and more interestingly scans of both the treaties with the Sultans of Brunei and Sulu respectively in Jawi. You can see it by clicking here.
Anyway, I am posting the images here again.

 Brunei Treaty

Treaty Sulu

And also for more historical details from a prolific blogger click on this link:

or here.

Here are the English translation of the treaties. There are obviously more than two. You can draw your conclusions regarding the true ownership of these lands.

Treaty Sulu

Treaty Brunei

Treaty Padas 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Kuching Paquebot SL8

I can not for the life of me distinguish between SL8 and SL9 in Ted Proud's book. They also have the same prewar years of usage between 1936 and 1941. They are not that uncommon and is an interesting paquebot cds but after the war, for whatever reasons, use reverted to the straight line types, either letters alone as in the very rare SL10 with the funny looking "Q" or letters within parallel lines or a box.

This does not look very interesting being an obvious CTO on the first day of use. However, we have a postwar cypher stamp with a cancellation date of 2 DEC 1947. SL8 was brought into use again postwar between 2.12.47 and 7.3.48. I have been reliably informed that postwar covers of this type are quite uncommon.

Having found a commercial cover with a postwar cypher stamp with a date possibly of 14 FEB 1948, I am obliged to downgrade it to relatively uncommon rather than rare.