Belated New Year greetings, my readers. Hopefully, this will lighten the gloom of recent days as storm Eleanor battled and destroyed or damaged some of our coastal defenses and cities both in the UK and Europe. We are now braced for an Arctic blast in the next few days bringing more freezing conditions. Meanwhile, the US east coast has been turned into a new Antarctica. I have no doubt this has something to do with unnatural global weather changes. Philately is probably one of most environmentally and climatically friendly pastimes.
The stamps shown below are very special because as far as I know there are very few copies of Straits and Indian stamps recorded used in Labuan before her first stamps were issued in May 1879.
The first item is the Straits Settlements 1867 12c ultramarine used with Labuan K1, the 18 mm circle of diamond dots. The K1 cancellation on Indian, Hong Kong and Straits stamps are invariably in black. However, a used front from Labuan in 1865 to the Rajah Mudah Charles Brooke of Sarawak was recently sold by Spink with a one Anna Indian stamp with the earliest date of use of K1 in red as shown above. It also has the Straits B 172 cancellation as it went from Labuan to Kuching via Singapore.
The Indian and Hong Kong adhesives were apparently stocked by the Labuan post office from 1864 as stated by Proud. But I have also read somewhere that they were brought there by individuals who anticipated the need to write letters.
The 27 July 1864 was the earliest date that adhesives were recorded as used on the earliest covers of Labuan. This was the first of the three so called "Stafford covers" sent to Edward Stafford in Nelson in New Zealand using Hong Kong and Indian stamps. Edward William Stafford was the premier of New Zealand three times between 1856 and 1872.
The "De Saumarez" cover dated 13 July 1864 marks the transition when adhesives were not used on Labuan mail just before the earliest Stafford cover. Three years later, the Straits Settlements were officially available at the Labuan post Office with the 1867 issue. There are very very few copies of loose stamps of Hong Kong and Straits Settlements used at Labuan known. No loose Indian stamp used at Labuan is recorded. And I have not seen a pre 1879 Labuan cover using Straits stamps.
Reference: Labuan covers and correspondence to 1879 by Jeremy Dickson which is available from the Sarawak Specialists' Society.