Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas treat 4. Labuk & Sugut and Christmas Is

There is not a lot more that I can write about this very rare cancellation than what was said in my previous posting here. We have quite an early usage date of 8 JUN 1903 which accounts for the clarity of this large part cancellation. To connoisseurs of postmarks, enjoy! 
Update A view of the Labuk in the days of Oscar Cook around 1917:
"The Labuk! Encircled with swamps and jungles, traversed by rivers, bound­ed by hills and sea. It is as if a soul were imprisoned within those mighty barriers; as if a slow, long, lingering tragedy were being enacted, as if through the years and years of the past, and through the years and years to come, this soul were striving for freedom, to reach the light of the sun. So, over the district there broods a spirit of somber sadness which touches and dwells in the hearts of its men."

       Map showing the vast area of Labuk & Sugut to the north west of Sandakan.

This is not an unworthy supporting act to the L&S. This cancellation is an elusive little gem which is seldom seen. To confuse matters, there are 4 separate places called Christmas Island. The one here is part of Australia and is located in the Indian Ocean.  It was annexed by Britain in 1888 and administered as part of the Straits Settlements until WWII. Straits stamps were in use from 1901. Due to the small population at the time which composed mainly of labourers and just over a dozen Europeans involved in the extraction of phosphate, the post office was not busy. This accounted for the rarity of this postmark and associated postal history.
This is my final post for 2012. Who knows what pleasant surprises await next year now that the end of the Mayan calender has been and gone a few minutes ago.
Update A 3c Straits stamp with a clear postmark of  21 OC 1903, early usage, was sold in Australia for AUD 420. This gives an idea how desirable this cancellation is.

Map showing position of Christmas Is in the Indian Ocean. I think there is a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur. Might be worth visiting.

A philatelic but still quite valuable item but showing the double circle Straits type cds very well. We also have the bonus of a clear  registration label. From 1945, a single circle cds with the date in one line was used. This cover is dated DE 6 1937. On the back is a transit cancellation in Singapore of 16 DE 1937 and also a registration cachet for Bedford of 28 DEC 37. It took just over 3 weeks to reach its destination.
A similar item but non registered went for 400AUD a few years ago.

Cocos Is lies to the west of Christmas Is. They also made use of Straits and Singapore stamps for a time. This single circle cds was was introduced the previous year in 1952. Before the war, it had a double circle Straits type date stamp with solid bar killers like Christmas Is. And earlier than that was a double circle cds without the bars. The straits type cancellations are quite rare. The date of the postmark on this FDC was 2JUN53 and on the back is an arrival marking for London of 17 JNE 1953 which meant it languished somewhere in Australia even though there is no transit marking before boarding the plane to London.

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