Sunday, 9 September 2018

North Borneo Japanese Occupation Tobacco Revenue stamps

I am posting less regularly nowadays because I feel that this blog has fulfilled much of its purpose. It was started initially to show what was a paltry collection which I have had since my early teens. It worked to inspire me to go further, that was to make contact with like minded collectors and to join the Sarawak Specialists' Society. Their journal is a treasure trove of information collected from in depth research of British Borneo ever since the society was formed in 1946. With this knowledge, I was able to buy with confidence and show parts of my collection. A tremendous amount of work and much expense has gone into putting together this collection. Therefore it is rather annoying when images were plagiarized from this blog without acknowledgement and permission. I would not have declined if this courtesy was observed. 
Little is known about these JO Tobacco Revenue stamps. They were most certainly printed by the Chinese Press at Kuching during occupation on poor quality paper which was in keeping with the bad economic conditions of the time. I first noticed them when an item was listed in an auction of the Revenue Society. However, in the Frank Bell archive at the Imperial War Museum, there are tobacco wrappers with these stamps attached cancelled by Japanese seals.

 Barefoot: South East Asia Revenues (2006)
Barefoot listed 3 values for this assumed date of issue in 1943 but it was probably earlier, when it was realised that there was a need to raise funds locally for the war effort. The economy went into a steep decline as the various countries in British Borneo were completely depended on exports of local produce. No official records of its introduction and use survived but this tax was known to have been introduced in the Philippines during the war.

These are the unused examples of the 4c and 8c which came from sheets that were probably taken to safety as souvenirs after liberation otherwise I doubt they would have survived the tropical conditions for very long.

This is a rare used block of 9 with Japanese seals. There would have been different seals for the various districts for accounting and audit purposes. Notice the separation bars in between stamps at the bottom row. This is mentioned by Barefoot. It is present after 3 or more stamps and likely acted as a perforation guide. Years ago whole sheets of unused stamps were auctioned by InterAsia. I should have taken some scans to confirm this.

I think this 4c has a different seal cancellation to the above. It could be oblong similar to an item in the Imperial War Museum archive in London. The separation bar is seen here on the bottom right.

The seal on this vertical 8c pair is circular. Different value stamps were used according to the weight of the tobacco purchased. A separation bar is also seen here on the bottom stamp only.

This war time receipt for quit rent illustrates a peculiarity which is also present on the tobacco revenues. The Japanese/Chinese script reads from the left against the normal convention of writing and reading from the right. We also have the Japanese plum blossom emblem here. It symbolises perseverance and hope, as well as beauty, and purity which was a complete contradiction to what transpired during the war.

A 1944 2 line Japanese Occupation overprint on a 1939 12c stamp with the usual convention of reading the overprint from the right side.

On the other hand, this 1943 lithograph issue printed by G. Kolff, Batavia has the Japanese/Chinese script, against convention, reading from left to right.

Reference: Lardner, Bernard (2014). Tobacco Stamps issued during the Japanese Occupation. Sarawak Journal v67/3 82-83.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Some North Borneo philatelic items of interest

Just a few more things that I have accumulated over the past few months. Otherwise, things have been rather quiet without any startlingly significant acquisitions after missing out on some essential items because our area continues to attract a lot of interest and outstanding material are getting more expensive. 

I have somehow acquired this desirable specimen set on the cheap and now have a spare $5 stamp as well. The 1931 50th anniversary set is arguably the best designed and printed set of stamps from North Borneo. There are no known errors or varieties such was the quality control. This was unlike in previous years with re entries, different perfs, imperf pairs etc etc and one wonders whether the laxity in quality control was on purpose. To retrieve their reputation on this occasion, the decision was made to put the stamps on sale on 1 January 1931 and  to withdraw the issue fully on 31 December 1931 and all remaining unsold company stock was destroyed both in North Borneo and London. On the same day, the printing plates, dies and cylinders were also defaced. Requests from dealers to buy up remainders were tersely turned down.
A one frame competitive display with all aspects of this set including the artist's sketches, various types of proofs, mint and used sets including postal history should be worthy of a good medal in competition. And of course, the equally attractive Waterloo sample stamps in different colours should be included as well. You can see this set in pairs on this blog by clicking here and here.
A very good reference for this set of stamps would be the monograph North Borneo The Fiftieth Anniversary Issue Of The British North Borneo (Chartered) Company by L H Shipman. Shipman was a very well revered past president and editor of  The Sarawak Specialists' Society.

This cover to USA was rather unusual in going via Manila and not Hong Kong. Normally, mail bounded for the US would get a backstamp as it was sorted in Hong Kong. There is no such backstamp here from HK or Manila. Apart from Hong Kong there was also a direct surface mail connection between Manila and San Francisco as the Philippines were an American possession. A ship from the Eastern & Australian Steamship Company usually called on Sandakan on its way from Australian ports to Japan via Manila and Hong Kong towards the end or beginning of each month. In the BNB Herald, SS Arafura arrived from Australia on 1st December 1924 and left the next day for Manila. The ships Hinsang and Mausang were the usual ships that carried mail via Hong Kong on a fortnightly basis.
This is commercial mail from C S Lam & Co in Sandakan dated 24 NOV 1924 has the correct 12c rate for foreign mail to USA. It would have been a lot more interesting if it was a registered letter. Little is known about C S Lam and an advertisement in the Herald gave some indication of his business. But the addressee, Barr Rubber Products Co in Ohio actually made toys out of rubber.

This is an attractive philatelic cover with part of the 1909 set. It has a total of 51c in stamps when the correct imperial rate would have been 6c+12c for registered post to Britain. It was posted on 27 DEC 1926 with a registration I label with various arrival backstamps. The envelope was from the Sandakan Hotel and it was a very pleasant surprise to find a brief note inside with the corresponding stationary paper.

This is a very uncommon early incoming mail from Singapore in the Straits Settlements to Kudat. The sent date was SE 28 91 but unfortunately there was no arrival cancellation. The stationary used was from the Chartered Bank of India Australia & China with the embossed seal at the back of the envelope. And also the 5c Straits stamp has the letters C B I. The UPU rate from SS from 1 1 1891 was 5c but it was 8c for outgoing mail from North Borneo.
This was the wax seal from the Chartered Bank of India Australia & China used in Kuching on one of my covers.