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.


  1. nice ,I had tenom square cancel.

    1. Yes, square circle postmarks are very collectible in general.