Saturday, 17 December 2016

Labuan 1879 SG1 to 4 used with red dots

The earliest postal cancellation from Labuan routinely applied on stamps was a circle of diamond dots. This is the killer cancellation K1 under Proud's classification and was recorded in use between 1864 and 1882. Labuan did not issue stamps until 1879. There was a period of 15 years where other stamps were used on outgoing mail from Labuan. These included the Straits Settlements, India, Hong Kong and possibly Ceylon stamps. The Straits Settlements stamps were officially used in Labuan from 1867 and the stamps from the other countries were probably carried there by individuals but Proud stated that they were stocked by 1864.
Initially, this circle of diamond dots were in black as seen on covers with Indian and Hong Kong stamps. Then it was changed to red with the Labuan first issue in 1879.  And later on with the 1880-82 issue, it was often in black. Even though red is much better looking and preferable, this dot cancellation is more uncommon in black in my opinion. Black was more effective in preventing chemical cleaning and then fraudulent reuse of these postal adhesives.

blue-green 1,520 issued

orange-brown  2,940 issued

carmine  1,470 issued

blue 3,520 issued
I would not say much about this first issue of 4 stamps from Labuan in 1879 except that they were recess printed by De La Rue on white fiscal paper with a large sideways watermark of CA over Crown. The Queen's head design was based on a drawing by Joubert in 1850. 
This 40c of 1894 issue was printed by lithography and also by De La Rue. The result is generally more inferior in clarity and definition as compared to the recess printing. Much of this issue was CTO with the thick 9 bar cancel for sale to collectors. Some of these bar cancels may reflect genuine use but it is almost impossible to differentiate between them in practice. There are some differences between the postally used bars and CTO.
A used example with a good cds like the above stamp or the rest of this issue is not commonly seen or available. SG does list used prices but my research has yielded very few of these used copies. The majority of Labuan Queen heads used after 1894 are from the 1892 issue which are clearer in design due to the recess printing technique.
The lithographs are inferior but were cheaper to produce. It was carried under the administration of North Borneo which commenced in 1890. So the likelihood was this issue was made largely for philatelic purposes. It was very probable that little or none of the issue was sent to the Labuan post office. Whatever used copies or covers which are in existence were from stamps sent there by collectors.
According to SG, the date of issue was April 1894 and a month later in May, the 1894 pictorials were issued. So this was another reason why these litho Queen head stamps were not required in Labuan.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Some postmarks on the 1889-1892 low values P&R issue

There is quite a variety of town as well fiscal cancellations on this issue, some of which are very uncommon or rare such as the Silam Post Office intaglio cancellation.

The most common town cancel originated from Kudat followed by Sandakan. Some were used late at Jesselton. Gayah is sought after but not uncommon.

Both these Elopura P cancelled stamps were dated from 1890. I believe that the Elopura cancel became a fiscal cancel after it became redundant for postal use. The Elopura cds was correctly used on cover rather than on the stamps. Here, I think it indicated that the 10c stamp were initially used fiscally before it were issued for postal use in 1891. The 5c was in use by 1889.

The Gayah cancellation can be found on all values of this set of stamps but an almost complete cds on a pair of stamps like this is hard to find. On the other hand, a GAYA (without the H) cancel would be rare on this set.

Kudat As are normally seen but a Kudat D5 with the Maltese Cross on the 10c blue is not commonly seen on this set.

Surprisingly, I only have one stamp of this issue with a Labuan postal cancellation even though I have a few dozens of other North Borneo stamps with either a cds or a bar cancel from Labuan. The 10c blue has the Received at Labuan fiscal cancellation with a partial date of (NO)V 94.

This is the magnificent Silam Post Office intaglio cancel in blue and is quite uncommon on these stamps. Was this on a postcard to GB or other distant UPU countries? 6c was the postcard rate after July 1891.

The Sandakan 14 bar cancel when applied centrally like this is quite likely to be postal rather than CTO which were usually applied at the corner of the stamp.

This is the modified form of the Sandakan 14 bar cancellation. It is uncommon to find a red Sandakan cds on the same stamp which increases its desirability significantly.

This should be the 17 bar cancellation from Sandakan. There are more than 14 bars seen on this stamp.

This the 19 bar cancellation in greenish blue and with a hint of a red cds at the left lower edge which would have indicated that the 19 bar cancel was from Sandakan.

A mixed franking on piece with the 14 bar cancellation in blue from Sandakan. The original envelope would have cost a good tidy sum of money. 

There are also various official fiscal cancellations on this set of stamps and I also find the Chinese manuscript cancels very interesting. The bottom item has a Kudat cds as well.
I have updated the half cent write-up with a full Carame sheet that I bought last weekend. You can see it by clicking here.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

1891 P&R 8c imperf between horizontal pair and forgeries

For some reason this variety of the 1888 8c yellow green stamp is not listed in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue even though most of the low values of this set have similar errors of perforation omission. Perhaps it is very uncommon.

You may say how would I know this is from the genuine stamp and not a Founier or Careme forgery? There are certain characteristics that indicate it is a genuine item. 

In the genuine stamp, there is a coloured dot in the corner as shown and also the coloured background of the Postage & Revenue scroll does not touch the right outside frame line.

In addition there are two dots to the right of S which is usually obvious in later transfers and there is a faint large dot between N and T.

The forgery is actually very well executed. It is a lighter shade of yellow green. But there are a few features that can reliably differentiate it from the real thing. It can be a Carame or a Fournier forgery. It was thought that Carame passed on the printing plates to Fournier and some said that the Carame printings are better. I hope that someday we will have enough knowledge to distinguish between the two types reliably. Just came back from our SSS AGM weekend, I was informed by good authorities that it is possible to differentiate between the two by plating flaws. Plating is not my forte and to me it is a tedious means to an end. While this maybe be feasible with whole sheets, it is well nigh impossible with individual stamps.

There is no coloured dot in the corner here and also the coloured background of the scroll merges with that of the outside frame.

Here the the long rope from the mast is uneven in thickness. There are also other features including the bottom of N in North is wider at the bottom compared to the top. The left lower ornament is centered more to the left and the right lower centered more to the right. Both these two items have gum at the back. With Fournier/Careme forgeries, there is a thin layer of smooth gum whereas in the normal stamps, the gum is thicker and uneven with fissures and cracks. The genuine stamps are also printed on wove paper with distinct pattern of dots when viewed in front of light.

I think this is a Careme printing and is much clearer than the mint Fournier shown above which can be described as fuzzy. The rope from the mast is more even but it still lacks the dot in the corner and the coloured part of the scroll touches the outside frame. Fournier used forgeries would have fake bar cancels similar to the North Borneo 14 bar cancel. Careme items would have fake circular cancels like here or thick bars like the Labuan 9 bar cancel. The perfs are very poor compared to Fournier or it could have been crudely perforated using a fake imperf stamp.

These are two more fakes. The imperf item look like from Carame and the second item from Fournier with differences in printing and colour. Normally extremely displaced perfs like this are fakes because the authentic stamps would have been rejected.

This one appeared on ebay and is definitely a fake using the criteria that that was described at the beginning of this article.

A part sheet of 40 of the forgery from the crude multiperf set which I think is more uncommon than the whole sheets from Fournier. 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

The 5c, 6c and 10c stamps of the 1889-1892 P&R issue

The 5c slate was issued in 1889, the 6c lake in 1892 and the 10c blue in 1891.

The 5c is a handsome stamp. There are two easy features to identify it. The little dash which follows on after the initial down stroke of the first part of the second Chinese character is invariably present in most genuine 5c stamps. In addition, the 5 in 5 CENTS has an extended bottom stroke making it look more like a spoon or scoop.

Only the middle stamp in these 2 rows is genuine. The fakes have a generally duller colour. The 5 in 5 CENTS in the fakes actually look more normal without the extended tail stroke. The right sided corner ornaments are also slightly off centred. Note also how the second Chinese character touch or almost touch the adjacent frame line in the fakes.

The 6c was the the last to be issued in 1892 to conform with the 6c UPU postcard rate. The left stamp is genuine and the fake on the right is of a different shade but the fakes can come in a few different shades anyway.

 With the genuine stamp, there is a consistent coloured dot in the left upper ornament as shown.

The left side of the small sail in the fake 6c stamp is straight rather than curved as indicated by the arrow.

The coloured dot flaw above the frame line between T and H in NORTH is a consistent finding in the genuine 10c stamp.

The first stamp of this trio is genuine with blue shade followed by the dull blue. The stamp on the right is the fake version with a dull deep blue colour. The fake 10c stamp is surprisingly uncommon compared to the genuine stamp as far my collection is concerned but whole sheets are known. It lacks the coloured dot flaw. 

This is to show that the small stamps of this set are not all of the same size. The 6c is the smallest followed by the 2c whereas the half cent is the tallest of this group. The 6c was definitely prepared and printed at a later date after North Borneo joined UPU on 1 July 1891 with the need for a 6c stamp for the postcard rate to GB and other distant Union countries. It was issued for use in 1892. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

1889 P&R 3c and imperf between horizontal 4c pair

Both of these stamps were released for use in 1889. The very noticeable difference in the forged 3c is the very much deeper shade of colour. There is also a difference in shade with the forged 4c but it is more subtle.

The 3c stamp has a chalky surface to it which sort of washes away on soaking and so it is much more noticeable in a mint stamp. The forgery has a dull deep violet colour. The second row shows the forged stamp in various guises including an imperf and one with a good imitation of the 14 bar cancel.

As usual I will simplify things by pointing the easy to notice differences between real and fake. With the 3c stamp, there are 2 constant coloured dot flaws as shown, one above N in CENTS and another in the inner lower corner next to the left lower ornament. One would need magnification to see it properly.

It is more straight forward with the forged 3c. All the corner ornaments are not well centred and in particular the two upper ones which are centred more inwards as shown here.

In these 2 rows, only the middle stamp is real. Again the forgeries can appeared with normal looking bar cancellations.

The 4c has a constant coloured dot flaw just beneath the second Chinese character on the right side. There is a normal looking "&" in between Postage & Revenue.

With the forged stamp, the coloured dot is missing and the "&" looks different with a shorter end stroke as shown. This should be the easiest way to differentiate between the two.

Got this recently for a few pennies. Looks like the real thing and is the moderately valuable imperf between horizontal variety.