Thursday, 26 September 2013

Some early Sandakan cancellations

The most common early cancellations came from Sandakan, being the largest settlement and a busy commercial hub. It was the capital between 1883 and 1946.The following were from a small collection that was acquired recently.

This is the Sandakan D4 in crimson red and is common on this particular 1892 overprinted stamp. D4 was in use for 10 years from 1889.

The Sandakan D3 was use for a long time between 1885 and 1903 and is therefore fairly common. Note the month in 2 letters. The circle often appears dotted due to wear.

What a pity that there are a few short perfs at the top of this per12 1883 stamp. But generally, you would be hard pressed to find good all around perfs with adhesives of this issue. Here we have a good D3 in red.

I really like this stamp. It has a very rare combination of the modified 14 bar cancel and Proud's D4 in red on this perf 14 1886 stamp. The 14 bar cancel K2 was modified by cutting groves on the handstamp diagonally. Whatever the reason and the need, I am glad they did it as it produces an infinitely more attractive cancellation.
Proud has a date of 19.12.91 to 26.8.93 but as we can see this is clearly dated earlier on AUG 1891. With this combination postmark, I would not feel the need to purchase a correspondingly expensive cover to illustrate usage. I dare not speculate how much the original cover would have cost as there was still a bit of the original envelope adherent at the back.
Update 09 May 2014
Got this one recently. It is very difficult to find combination cancellations like this. It is almost as good as a cover, I think.

This is a very good example of how the 14 bar cancellation can be modified by cutting groves diagonally across it to achieve a dots effect.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The revenue stamps of 1886

The overprints were said to have been carried about the middle of 1886 in Sandakan at the offices of the Borneo Herald. This was to facilitate the payment of duties of smaller amounts which was hitherto avoided by merchants, traders and others. Till then only high value adhesives of 25c upwards were eligible for use for revenue purposes.

The pen cancellation would have indicated fiscal use of this adhesive in the payment for duty for goods, services etc.

The clear bar cancellation would have indicated postal usage. The position of the first line of the overprint "and" seems variable but exists commonly with the "d" just slightly to the left of the "n" just below. This is clearly shown on my stamp above.

In this borrowed image, the "d" here is almost exactly above the "n" in the overprint below.

Yet another borrowed image where the "d" is placed slightly to the right. So this overprint can exist in at least 3 slightly different variations. Possibly this would also applied to the similarly overprinted ten cent value. The account is in this respect is different from the one in Part 1 of  The Stamps and Postal History of North Borneo. These latter 2 settings are definitely much more uncommon.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Paris and stamp hunting

                                                            view from Trocedero

Paris is rightfully a top 3 world destination. The place is like a vast museum with history at every corner. I would like to offer a few tips based on my recent experience.
We prefer to self cater staying in a flat/apartment which gives us the freedom and flexibility. The inability to converse adequately where sustenance is concerned leads mostly onto unpalatable food. Generally, it is even more expensive to eat out than in London. If in doubt, McDonalds is fairly predictable and the China food shops are generally good and competitively priced. The latter has food ready made and sells by the 100g.
The standard of uncooked food stuffs and meat in particular is very high and it would be a pity not to indulge in some self catering. The meat has excellent flavour and one does not have to add too much to it apart from the basics. A strong flavour like curry would a waste. We also add a bit of whatever wine we were drinking to the cooking. Almost certainly this is best carried out when one is mildly inebriated.
The transport system is fairly good and reliable but sign posting is woefully inadequate. One can buy open dated tickets in a carnet of ten which is a lot cheaper than individually and can be used for both the metro and buses. We used the buses whenever we could for direct journeys.

                                                              Sacre Coeur

                                                          Musee du Louvre                                                              

                                                        Hotel de Ville or City Hall

Some of the highlights include watching the hourly night light display of the Eiffel Tower from the vantage point of Trocedero, enjoying lively Sacre Coeur in Monmartre both during the day and also at night (we were staying nearby) and strolling through the Louvre onto the Tuileries Gardens. Personally, I was also dumbfounded by the huge 30 by 10 foot paintings of his water lily garden in Giverny by Monet in Musee de l'Orangerie despite having seen them before 16 years ago.

Okay, onto the stamp bit. Paris is amazingly well served philatelically with more than 30 stamp shops and a large stamp street market three times a week. Within walking distance from our apartment is Rue de Chateudum with 7 stamp shops and a few minutes away is the well known Rue Drout with about a dozen shops. Unfortunately, most of the shops were closed for August holidays until early September. About 7 or 8 were open and I ventured to try my luck.
It would be very helpful if one can speak francais. No point saying North Borneo or Brunei. They will only look blankly at you. Do not get me wrong. They were generally very helpful. Start off with something like Colonie Anglais Asie and then work your way gradually to Malaisie and then Borneo. I did manage to speak to some dealers with a good command of English.
There are stamps and postal history galore but they mostly originated from France, its colonies and Europe but no or very little stamps of Asian origin. I was told that they are hard to come by and were mostly bought up by visitors.

                                                            Passage Panaromas

A few days later, we went to see a dealer who promised an introduction but it came to nothing. We wandered a few streets away and then came upon an arcade, Passage Panoramas, off Rue du Faub Poissonniere. Amazingly, there is another dozen stamp shops here. Some were open but the same story, no Borneo stamps. One dealer tried to interest me in German post offices of China. He had stacks and stacks of mint sheets of France/colonies stamps. In this arcade, there were also quite a few local bistros mostly frequented by local Parisians. I was tempted to try the braised pig's snout!

There is an interesting history behind the street stamp market (Marche aux Timbres) in Paris. It was also featured towards the end of the film "Charade" starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant which made the place well known especially to tourists visiting Paris.
The market is held on Thurdays, Saturdays and Sundays on Avenues Gabriel and Matignon by way of Avenue Marigny off the Champs Elysees near to Place de la Concorde. There are actual stands on Gabriel and a dealer told me that in its heyday, there were many dozens of them as shown in the film "Charade" but on the day I was there it was less than a dozen formal stores. The internet has something to do with it.  It was also the holiday period of August when the majority of Parisians go away. The only item I bought was a very nice postmark unusually in blue but that was not from Borneo. You may see it on this blog at some stage.
The other good thing is that I made friends with a dealer there who collects North Borneo and is a fellow member of our Sarawak Specialist Society. He has some great stuff which he will show me. It is a rather strange coincidence that I also met a fellow member on holiday from New Zealand in a stamp fair in UK recently. The world is a very small place for people with a similar interest.
On Avenue Matignon which meets the former street at a right angle, you have about 10 unlicensed dealers who uses the park benches to display their small unimpressive stock. There is nothing of interest here where our territories are concerned. If time is the essence, I would advise concentrating on Avenue Gabriel.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Brunei JO part 4

There are a total of 5 sheets of 50 in my custody. As you can see, some of them are too big for the scanner. I am also enclosing a scan of the article by W H Adgey Edgar which was published in the Philatelic Magazine in June 1948. But I wonder whether the Die II that was mentioned is actually a forged overprint.

The uppermost overprint as shown above with Die I is the one that seems to be the one on all these sheets and stamps. Notice the right leg of the first character (conventional to read from the right) is thicker. The second character has a sharp point at the bottom right corner. The sixth character has a down stroke shaped like a harpoon on the left side. The final character normally has a very tiny dot within the space inside.
The bottom overprint has Die II and the spacing between and the characters are irregular and not precise. I think this is a fake overprint. I have not seen an overprint used like the one depicted in the Stanley Gibbons and some other catalogues. Here, the first character has equal legs with the left connected to the next character. The explanation could have been that they did not show the real overprint to prevent copycats. But it is also very important for collectors to be familiar with the structure and format of this overprint as fakes both old and new are abundant.