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.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Some square circle cancellations

Actually, a worldwide square circle postmark collection with associated postal history would make a very worthwhile and interesting exhibit. From British Borneo, there were only two postal cancellations of this type and they both originated from North Borneo.
The very first cancellation of this form was introduced in late 1879 in the United Kingdom as an alternative to the more cumbersome duplex cancellers. The use of this type of cancellation then spread throughout the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. A square circle cancellation can be described as a cross between a cds and a killer bar cancel.

Originally, Tenom was known as Fort Birch and it prospered when the railway came in April 1905. This square circle was the first cancellation and was used between 1905 and 1916 and even so it is not easy to find on cover. It is difficult to know why only Sandakan and Tenom had this type of canceller.

A stamp can tell a story and what can we deduce here? There are 2 different cancellations. The Beaufort has (1)9/ JUL and in the Tenom cds only "20" can be seen. My conclusion is that the postal item was sent on the 19th from Beaufort and arrived on the 20th in Tenom. Somehow it received an arrival cancel. Perhaps it was registered mail or even a parcel that deserved acknowledgement of its arrival status. This stamp also has what looks like a guide line in red on the right margin for ease of perforation.

A stamp that was sent from Tenom in August and received a Straits type arrival cancel in September.

You can see how attractive this type of cancellation is in its complete form. I probably paid too much for this item as there are quite a few of this on various cards in the same format and writing but this red 1c card is more uncommon. Someone in Behn Meyer & co. was doing a side line in philatelic postal cards. I have seen a card which is almost an exact copy except for the slightly different placing of the square cancel and also a different senseless message within.

This is number 8(as seen above) in the series of postcards by Phillippe B. Funk of Sandakan. It has a view of the Recreation Club and the Chinese temple of Sam Sing Kung, the oldest standing structure in Sandakan. The temple was completed in 1887. 
We have the Sandakan square cancel D11 (1904-1915). The date here is 1 MAR 1909. The habit of placing the adhesive on the picture side is to facilitate display of both the stamp and card. I think this custom originated from France. 
On the back, we have Funk signing off as F Philippe with CCC 3860 which was his number for the Cosmopolitan Correspondence Club in Milwaukee in contrast to number 2724 for his business colleague Ha Buey Hon of Sarawak. Funk himself probably did not collect used postcards for long as I have seen a message in a sister postcard that asked for unused cards of beauties and actresses. He was obviously selling them in his shop.   

The Dutch East Indies had a profusion of square cancels for the various post offices. This picture postcard was sent from Rotherdam in 1901 which would have predated by a few years the earliest known picture postcard from North Borneo. There is a nice Bandjermasin arrival cds and on the way there it passed through Singapore and received one of the commoner N I Agent cancellations, again a square cancel.

This square circle from Medan, Sumatra is rather nice. It was cancelled on arrival.