Thursday, 8 January 2015

Two nice North Borneo covers

I am showing some more postal history. Somewhere along the way in my pursuit of philatelic gems I have managed to acquire these items. However, my main interest is collecting used North Borneo stamps preferably with a good postmark. Single adhesives are easier to store and are comparatively cheaper to buy. But postal covers have the unassailable advantage of telling a more complete story.

Despite its aged appearance, I think this cover is quite nice. It was a registered post from Sandakan to Dresden in Germany. I call it my Dresden china cover as the printed KPM cachet on the back flap probably represented Konigliche Porzellan Manufaktur, the china and dinnerware manufacturer in Dresden. Moreover, it appeared that the cover was sent by one Francesca Borgers who was based in Shanghai, China. Was she on a boat to Sandakan when she wrote this letter?
This cover has 30c in stamps which was more than the 12c+12c for a registered letter at the prevailing postal rates from November 1921. It was posted on 1 MAR 1925 transited at Singapore on 9 MR 1925 and arriving at Dresden on 5.4.25
The Sandakan registration label has the letter H. A study of the different letters used on these labels may be quite intesresting. You can see the Jesselton registration label X by clicking here. 

This is one of 3 Her Majesty Ship covers from North Borneo that I know of. But there should be others. A similar cover was sold in the most recent Sarawak Society auction for very good money. I bought this a few years ago at the same auction.
The 4c adhesive at the prevailing imperial rate was endorsed by Received by HM Ship/ No charges to be raised cachet with a Londond arrival date of DEC 2 16. By the margin and written in pencil is HMS "Cadmus". The Cadmus was a Cadmus-class sloop based entirely in the Far East. A sloop-of- war in the British Navy was an unrated combat vessel that was carrying 18 guns or less used in convoy defense with anti aircraft and anti submarine capabilities. The term sloop may also implied that this was a sail bearing sea craft.

HMS Cadmus was launched originally in Sheerness 1903 and sold in Hong Kong in 1921. It had a displacement of 1070 tons. It was armed with six 4 inch guns, four 3 pounders and three Maxim guns. It was initially part of the Australian Station but from 1906 was reassigned to the China Station. Following the entry of Japan into WW1 in 1914 on the side of Britain against the Germans,  HMS Cadmus together with fellow sloop HMS Clio were sent initially to Hong Kong and eventually was based mainly at Sandakan by September 1914 to watch over the adjacent areas especially the Basilan Straits. The Clio stayed for less than a year while the Cadmus stayed until April 1918.
The above cover was addressed back to Sheerness which could be a coincidence and at the back of the cover is a list of names of possible sailors on board ship.

The presence of HMS Cadmus in North Borneo waters is confirmed by this entry in the ship log of the sloop HMAS Una in the vicinity on 17 Jan 1916. It says Capt paid official call to HMS Cadmus. Recd 5 bags of mail from HMS Cadmus. It was likely while the Cadmus was policing the sea in the area and at the same time helping in the transport of mail. The Una set sail for Singapore the very next day.
From looking at the ship log of HMS Clio, Sandakan Bay was certainly busy with visits from HMS vessels. For the last quarter of 1914, the ships sighted were HMS Cadmus, Chemer, Clio, Coln, Kennet, Wahand, Walrond and Wellard.

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