Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Labuan incoming with postage due

The upper item is among a group of covers which I bought cheaply at a recent auction. It was a very pleasant surprise as it was not listed in the catalogue description. It is uncommon rather than rare. A similar prewar item is very much on my wish list.

So this was an incoming philatelic item which was underpaid and received a T  handstamp and inscribed 6 centimes in old French money as per UPU regulations. This translated to 5c in local money. This was paid before the cover was released to the recipient. Two stamps for a total of 5c was fixed to the back and cancelled. There were no official postage due adhesives postwar. In the previous era, the postage due adhesives were fixed and cancelled on a separate memo. These were flimsy pieces of paper. Not a lot survived and they are definitely expensive. From the dates one could see it took a total of 11 days for the cover to be delivered which is probably faster than nowadays.

This is not a postage due cover. There are quite a few of this type of covers around. They are attractive and there was a variety of adhesives or combinations used making each item slightly different. This cover was carried by one of the two Short "Singapore III" flying boats of No. 205 Squadron under command of Wing Commander T.W.Scott, returning to Singapore from where they had departed on June 22nd.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Labuan stamps with Brooketon cancellation

Brooketon was a part of Brunei which was administered by Sarawak after they took over the concession for mining coal from William Clark Cowie in 1888. Sarawak stamps with Brooketon are not uncommon but they tend to command a premium due to the popularity of this postmark. It can also be found on adhesives of Labuan, Brunei and North Borneo with the latter two quite difficult to acquire. The ones on Labuan are not easy but somehow over the past 12 months I have managed to find two. I call this the "London Bus" effect. They do not arrive as expected but when they do, it is usually in twos or threes.

Despite the lower one having a a full strike of 4 MAR 03, I still prefer the upper example which somehow looks a lot better. There are so many Sarawak stamps with this Brooketon cancellation but strangely no cover so far I know. The nearest item to postal history was a card sent from Brooketon in June 1907 franked by a Brunei stamp but somehow received no Brooketon cancellation. It went through Labuan and Singapore on its way to London. The Brunei adhesive was uncancelled and invalidated. 
The likelihood was most of these Brooketon items were cancelled by favour even though some mail from the south western part of North Borneo and possibly north Sarawak and Labuan went through Brooketon. This was due to the more frequent communication between the mining company and Kuching. And then the mail was carried onwards to Singapore. So were some of these transit cancellations? 
You can see some Sarawak stamps with the Brooketon cancellation by clicking here.

This is an aerial U S Navy photo on the pre-invasion bombardment of Brooketon on 9 June 1945 before the troops of the Australian 9th division landed 2 days later supported the U S 7th Fleet and Australian warships. Six 7th Fleet Venturas and eight Army Lightings were used. This picture shows the napalm drop. Apparently 95 percent of the Japanese base was destroyed. No wonder by the time the Australian troops landed, the Japanese had fled. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Labuan D8 time codes A to E

For a long time, no one commented accurately on what these codes signify. By the time this D8 cancellation came into usage between 1910 and 1913, Labuan had already joined  the Straits Settlements in January 1907. Similar letter codes were seen in the Straits cancellations and these were time codes but whether they were used accurately is opened to debate. Logically code A would represent the earliest time period in the day and code E the latest. Code E is difficult to find and it may have been that it was used during a quiet late period, for instance when a ship arrived during the night. 

Time codes A & B on Straits stamps. This postmark can also be found on Brunei or North Borneo adhesives.

It is not common to find this cancellation on a Brunei stamp. We have the time code C here. Its usage would represent paquebot use or a transit cancel. The bulk of mail from Brunei went through Labuan during this period as there were regular ships plying the route between Singapore and Labuan.  

This is code D on a pair of of North Borneo stamps and probably represented paquebot mail from the south western part of North Borneo near to Labuan and would have been more efficient than going through the GPO at Jesselton. It could also be possibly an an arrival or transit cancel.

Time code E is quite difficult to obtain and probably even more unusual to be seen on a pair of North Borneo stamps. Were both these pairs of 4c adhesives used for books or printed matter for an item weighing 8oz?

Monday, 7 September 2015

Inverted time code B in Labuan D8

The following picture postcards were part of a series of 14 from an unknown publisher, possibly commissioned in Singapore but published in Europe eg Germany. They probably dated from the early 1900s.

This is card number 5 showing the railway for the coal mines in Labuan. This exact photo is also found in John Dill Ross' book Sixty Years: Life and Adventure in the Far East but no year given. The back bears a typical message from a tourist and was sent to the USA bearing 3c in stamps for the prevailing Straits UPU postcard rate. Labuan became part of the Straits Settlements on 1 January 1907. Strange, considering it is nowhere near the Malacca Straits but one can say the same for Christmas Is and Cocos Is. It was obviously sanctioned due to administrative reasons.
This Labuan cds D8 was used between January 1910 and August 1913. The cancellation here of 25 MR 1910 is therefore an early example. The time codes ranged from A-E. E is quite difficult to find. In addition, the time code is sometimes omitted. Our example here has the uncommon inverted time code B. 

I thought I must as well include the other cards that I have of this series. Both are unused. This is card number 7.

This card has number 8 at the back and is complemented by card  number 9 which shows the rest of the scene at the Victoria Harbour in Labuan. This exact photo is also in John Dill Ross' book.