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.


  1. Hi, I wish to hv a complete collection of the North Borneo stamps as the pictorial vary in so many ways. As I'll be going to Sandakan this weekend, would you know where I can find sellers with these stamps?

    1. There are no sellers in Sandakan. There are some in KK.
      Ebay UK is your best bet and cheaper as well.