Brunei BMA Stamps

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British Military Administration (BMA)

The BMA took charge of Brunei's postal service on 17 December 1945 and treated all four British Borneo teritories as one unit (as also had the Japanese). Sarawak stamps of the 1934-41 issue and North Borneo 1939 issue were overprinted "BMA".
None of the Brunei stamps were overprinted primarily because of insufficient stock from previous issue - this is likely because the little number of remaining 1924-37 Brunei stamps might have been used up for Japanese overprints. Also both North Borneo and Sarawak stamps were sufficient enough to provide for postal need in Brunei during the BMA administration.  The use of BMA stamps ceased with the reappearance of new Brunei issues on 2 January 1947.
Three-line postmark supplied by Straits Times, Singapore - Kuala Belait

Three-line postmark - Brunei
Postmarks

Very few postmarks were used during BMA and mainly from the two main towns - Brunei and Kuala Belait. I'm not sure about postal services in Tutong and Temburong during BMA, but both Muara and Seria were not opened until 1948 and 1951 respectively.

Two varieties of postmarks were produced: (a) A three-line postmark provided by the Straits Times in Singapore; and (b) An Australian pattern cds. Both varieties were available for both towns. Two further varieties found for the three-line postmarks for both Brunei and Kuala Belait.

Australian pattern cds - Kuala Belait

Australian pattern cds - Brunei

More about Brunei Stamps.

A Cover That Missed the Last Clipper Service

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Pan-American Trans-Pacific Clipper Service (1935-1941)
 
I showed this cover to one of my non-philatelic friends one day and jokingly asked him if he would buy it for €50. Although quite impressed with the heavy colourful frankings, like an innate reflex, he spontaneously asked me back"Fifty euros??! why would I buy this piece of crappy paper? I wouldn't even buy it for a tenner!!!". I smiled. Of course he wouldn't buy it and I wouldn't sell it at the price either, but trust me it's always fun to tease your friend on the subject from time to time.
 
Anyway this is a censored cover sent from Lahad Datu to Berkeley, California, USA. It is heavily franked with multiple North Borneo stamps (1939 issue) to a total rate of $2.05 - Evidently a mistake, this being the rate to the UK via the Pacific, plus 2¢ War Tax stamp. The rate to USA with PAA service after 3rd July 1941 would have been $1.55. Tied with Lahad Datu 4 DEC 1941 (D11) with black boxed censor cachet number 28 on the front and back. Inscribed "Per Pan American Clipper" on top left corner, with an airmail etiquette below. US censor label number 1683 on top of (presumably) North Borneo censor label.
 
Missing the Last Clipper from Singapore
 
The Pacific clipper service bacame available in Singapore on 10th May 1941. The first clipper (California clipper) reached Singapore on 10th May 1941 and returned back to San Francisco on 12th May 1941 - The first newly extended Pan Am route to Singapore.
 
With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941, and the US officially declaring war to Japan, the trans-Pacific services were immediately suspended. The last clipper (China clipper) left Singapore on the 30th November 1941, so the only remaining possibility for airmail to the UK and USA would have been the Horseshoe route with its long arduous transit times. Other possibility would have been by ship journeys from Singapore or Australia (Sydney) to the USA.
 
How Did the Mail Reach USA?
 
The essential question is how did mails missing the last clipper delivered to their US/UK destinations. Examples from various countries show two possibilites: by surface ship via the Pacific to the US; or via the long Horseshoe route to the UK. 
 
The numbers of  covers flown on the newly introduced PAA trans-Pacific route from North Borneo are unknown but should be very little. Many covers boarded the clipper in time for the last clipper on the 30th Nov 1941 so there are very few example from British Borneo or Malaya to compare with.
 
 For the cover above, the US censor 1683 is that of San Francisco, which strongly suggests that it was delivered via ship to the US. This was either from Singapore or other major port cities (eg. Sydney). Nonetheless, because of lacking examples, it would be interesting if details on such ship delivery can be brought to light.

Ebay Review - North Borneo

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1. Elopura Bulls-eye Cancel


This catchy Elopura cds was listed in ebay on 7 July 2012, fetching a final price of US$171.45. I recall a slightly tatty example of similar  bulls-eye Elopura cds on $1 stamp which appeared on January 2010 and ended with a mere US$35. Surely, the appetite for such beautiful gems has not waned at all, but in fact shows an ever stronger demand. Another bulls-eye Elopura cds on $10 appearing in ebay on February 2012 fetched $123.50.
 
Elopura cds was in use from 22.1.84 to 18.4.85 (as per Proud) but was then passed into unofficial hands for philatelic cancellation mostly involving high values stamps up to 1890. This is why bulls-eye cancels are quite prevalent post 1885 for the Elopura cds.
 
2. Judicial Dept Sandakan (Type 3)
 
 
Surely the attention for this lot consisting of 75 North Borneo stamps revolved around the $10 stamp bearing a violet cancel of JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT (Type 3, IDM). This lot ended on 28.07.12 for US$122.50. This large size cancel is similar to the GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH NORTH BORNEO cancels (type B, C and D) but with different caption in the lower half of the double ring. Overall, this is an impressively clear chop for such an elusive fiscal cancellation, and should be a great presentation item.
 
3. Maltese Cross Cover, 1918
 
 
Another superstar item, likely to be one of the most expensive philatelic items for North Borneo in ebay in the last few years. Prices rarely go beyond US$1000 even for very rare items in ebay. This cover however, managed to amass 5 bids to fetch the final price at US$1275! 
 
The cover consists of almost a full set Maltese Cross stamps issue (1916) from 1¢ to 24¢ (without 25¢). These are all tied neatly to the cover by a characteristic (worn-out) D11 KUDAT cds dated 20 DEC 1918. The cover is a registered mail sent from Kudat to England.
 
4. Fake Sandakan cds on $10 stamp
 
 
This is too obvious to miss, accounting for the very low ending price of  £4.99 after one participation. Collectors nowadays are becoming more knowledgable and sophisticated. The obliterator bars on top right corner and lower left corner indicate that this is a fake one.

North Borneo 1950-59 Definitives in Stamp Magazine

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After about 2 months of inactivity, I'm back with the usual business. I was in Dublin for some stroll when this Stamp Magazine issue September 2012 caught my wary eyes. Finally, someone, somewhere is actually writing about North Borneo stamps in the Stamp magazine! This is indeed a rare feat as I've been following Stanley Gibbons, Stamp Magazine (UK) and the Scotts magazine (USA) for quite sometime and in the last few years there has been no article on North Borneo, let alone Labuan. There are of course articles related to Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya in the last few months. You might start to wonder whether North Borneo is that unpopular among Commonwealth collectors.
 
Anyway, Len Stanway wrote a nice article about North Borneo's 1950s definitive series. He covered the historical aspects and the substandard designs of the series in a great detail. From relatively blurry images to uninspiring choices of depictions, the stamps series were largely received with disappointment among collectors. The 50¢ stamp for example, had the capital name spelt wrongly from JESSELTON to JESSLETON. Although this probably gives us some sentimental philatelic feel now, it didn't quite impress much the collectors back then. Subsequent Queen Elizabeth II stamps issue used the exact same designs.

What further caught my eyes was Silamstar's Papar cover which was used in the article: Click here for the picture and here for the Papar postmark entry. Further, Anthony's Salvaged mail was also included in the article: Click here.

 

Ebay Review - North Borneo, Labuan, Sarawak Stamps

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1. Straits Settlement Stamps used in Labuan


I recall this stunning cover being auctioned in Spink Singapore on Sept 2010 as part of the Stolz collection. The hammer price then was S$1,100 (or approx US$840 in Sept 2010). It reappeared in ebay on May 2012 with an opening price of US$750 and ended with 1 bid after 7 days. It is apparent therefore that the seller didn't make any profit from the sale and in fact was making a loss of more than US$90 including buyer's premium. This proves my belief that for expensive items, ebay might not be the best place to sell afterall...

Back to the cover, this is a registered envelope to Scotland franked with six different values at 21c. (6c. Imperial rate plus 15c. registration) cancelled with superb "labuan" c.d.s. (Type D11), showing boxed "recommande" h.s. (Type R5) and registration label at foot.

Historically speaking, Labuan (and Brunei) officially became part of the Straits Settlements administration in 1st January 1907 to 1st January 1942, when the Japanese first landed in Labuan. By letters Patent dated 30 October 1906, Labuan was incorporated with Straits Settlements and ceased issuing its own stamps, explaining why within this time span, Straits Settlement stamps were being used in Labuan. It became part of the Colony of North Borneo again in July 1946.

2. Pead cover with Brunei and Labuan frankings


Pead cover with mixed frankings of Brunei and Labuan stamps. The Brunei postage rate is 23½¢ and Labuan rate of 18¢ with all stamps tied to the cover. Typical Paed cover date of 22 JUL 1895 in Brunei and Labuan cds dated 25 JY 1895. Registered no 1062, consistent with Brian Cave's listing of Peads cover which begins with number 903. Ended at US$499 in May 2012 after 2 bids.

3. Fake Maltese Cross


I'm glad that nobody actually bidded for this set of fake Maltese cross stamps at an opening bid of €95. As a rule there are two varieties of colour in the overprints - magenta or light carmine. Anything exceedingly bright red in colour as the picture above is likely to be forgery. Furthermore, the edges and the points at the centre of the cross are usually sharp in genuine overprints. The fake overprints on the contrary usually have blunt and wide edges and the points at the centre are usually thicker than the genuine ones.

In addition to that, when you start seeing a maltese cross overprint on a CTO North Borneo stamp, don't turn back, run away quick because you know it's fake!

4. Sarawak Japanese Occupation Cover



This is a registered Sarawak cover sent locally and franked with full set of un-overprinted Japanese stamps from 1937-40 series (1 sen - 8 sen); and the 1942 issue of 5 sen claret. Tied with Sarawak cds dated 1 OCT 1942 with Kuching boxed registration cachet. At the back is a circular "SARAWAK CONSTABULARY LICENSE OFFICE" with initials in red. Also stamped with an oval chop in blue with Chinese characters. Ended at US$610 in May 2012.

Historically speaking, Sarawak was invaded by the Japanese army on December 17th, 1941. Officially, on October 1st, 1942, a series of un-overprinted Japanese stamps were made available for use in British Borneo, having arrived at a much earlier date in September 1942. These stamps are usually cancelled with existing "English" postmarks before overprinted Japanese stamps became available together with the cancels.

5. North Borneo 'On Government Service' letter



This cover is a registered cover sent from Jesselton to USA in 1932. The interesting part is of course the red wax seals at the back, bearing the North Borneo's coat of arm impression. Franked with a block of four 12¢ stamps and cancelled Jesselton cds. There is also a faint chop at the lower left corner which I suspect to be the Jesselton GPO cancel. Ended at US$179.50.

People's Republic of China (PRC) - Stamps worth Looking for

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People's Republic of China (PRC)


Everybody's been talking about it - China's stamp boom. Demand for most stamps issues of this country especially the issues of the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, shows no sign of abating any time soon. Recent auctions realisations around the globe seem to highlight this huge demand.

According to Mike Hall, the Chief executive of Stanley Gibbons group, within 4½ years from Nov 2006 to April 2011, the catalogue values of high profile China stamps grew on average of 200%. Some stamps grew at a more astounding annual rate, for example the 1962 Mei Lan-fang set grew by about 790% within the last 4½ years (or on average of 175% annually)! Fah Onn Liau wrote a nice article on the growth of North Borneo stamps especially for the high values stamps, and this seems to apply to many other Asian stamps in general, but North Borneo stamps' growth is a long way to go compared to the mighty Chinese stamps.

Imperforated Mei Lan-Fang stamps issue (1962) - Finished US$1,500 in ebay May 2012.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Schneider, founder of Interasia auctionhouse, demand for Chinese stamps has exploded in the last 20 years since he started his first auction. "It's such a booming market because you have the influence of China, and an enormous Chinese diaspora too, and they tend to collect Chinese stamps whether they're living in the U.S., Scandinavia or South America," he says. And of course in addition to the 20 million strong collectors in China, westerners also collect stamps from this country. According to Louis Mangin, owner of auctionhouse Zurich Asia, half of the participants in Chinese stamps auction come from the mainland China and another half are from outside China.

In March 2011, Interasia auction shaterred the world record with the largest ever stamp auction in Hong Kong with a total reaslisation of almost HK$100,000,000. Dr. Scheiner was quoted as saying "Philately has a special place in Chinese culture, with rare stamps regarded as important cultural icons and treasures, just like art, and thus fiercely competed over. However, we are seeing a level of interest and excitement in People's Republic stamps that is absolutely breathtaking, with many increasing 200 per cent or more in value in the past two or three years in a white-hot market."

Red-Hot Stamps Issues

Strip of 5, 1967 issue used, Thoughts of mao Tse-Tung, sold US$1,300 ebay May 2012.

On 1 March 1955, a currency revaluation took place, marking a new era in Chinese philately. The cultural revolution was launched on 16 May 1966 by Mao Tse-Tung. It was aimed at getting rid of bourgeois elements from the society and to return to capitalism. This explains why almost all issues within this period are very scarce as stamp collecting was viewed as a burgeois activity. Even postally used examples of stamps within this period are difficult to obtain. Those with a deep pocket, the 1967-68 issue on Mao's poems is worth looking for especially in unmounted mint. Another issues to look for are the 1967 Labour day, Mao's 'Talks on Literature and Art' (1967) and Directives of Chairman Mao (1968).

The legendary stamp of 1968 issue 'The entire nation is red' is probably impossible to acquire with its current market value unless you're one of those Forbes magazine highlights. Alternatively you may start playing a jackpot now and pray that you win big bucks. This stamp is super scarce, being quickly withdrawn because Taiwan appears white instead of red.

Although the Cultural Revolution officially ended in 1969, its effects continued to be felt until mid 1970s, with stamp collecting still very much frowned upon. Difficult issues in this later period include Centanary of the paris commune (1971), Chinese Merchant shipping (1972), Giant Panda (1973) and Industrial products (1974) among others.

1980 year of Monkey (8f) Sold in ebay for US$1,275 in May 2012

Issues from 1978 to the early 1980s may be picked up more easily although not cheaply. Finally, another legendary China stamp is the 1980 Year of the monkey stamp. This is the penny black of China, or the inverted Jenny in USA. Every China collector reveres this particular stamp due to a combination of the design (monkey), colour (red) and value (8f) - all of which are considered to bring good luck. As everyone wants to own this stamp, the price keeps rising exponentially, so if you need this stamp in your collection, buy it sooner rather than later.



Censor Covers of North Borneo (WWII, Allied censors)

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Violet Triangular Censor No 20 - Sandakan

Black Boxed Censor No. 5 - Jesselton

WWII North Borneo Allied Censor

 In general, censor marks might be applied by either one (or both) of the two opposing military alliances: the Allies on one side versus the Axis on the other. In the context of North Borneo and the rest of British Borneo, this was primarily between British and Japanese. The censorship of mail appears to have been imposed in North Borneo beginning late 1939, as the prospect of war seemed inevitable. The climax of censorship appears to be between 1939-1941.

North Borneo censor marks are interesting but information on this area is quite scarce. Censored cover appears sporadically on ebay and elsewhere, making this area quite difficult to study.

North Borneo censor marks can be roughly divided into (1) the Boxed type or (2) the Triangular type. This can be further subdivided into colour varieties - (a) Black, (b) Purple/violet, or (c) Red/carmine. The boxed type is more common than the tringular type, and in term of colours, Black > Violet > Red. The boxed censor mark reads PASSED BY | (NO) | CENSOR | NORTH BORNEO, arranged in 4 lines. The tringular censor consists of double tringles and reads | PASSED FOR | TRANSMISSION | NORTH BORNEO | (NO) |. The censor number appears in the centre of the triangle.

Black Boxed Censor No 18 - Sandakan

Black Tringular censor No 13 - Kudat

The numbering on the censor mark is altogether more interesting. Based on a quick study involving about 90 censored covers (mostly pictures of lots from Patrick Cassels' collection, Stolz collection, ebay and other auction sites) only about four towns involved in the censoring activity - Sandakan, Jesselton, Lahad Datu and Kudat. Covers from smaller towns (eg. Beaufort) may have been censored in bigger towns (e.g. Jesselton). I haven't seen censored cover from TAWAU and TENOM which might be represented by unique censor numbers.
 
<><><><><>
No
Associated Town
  1-9, 34
  JESSELTON
12-13
KUDAT
29
LAHAD DATU
10-33
(Other than the numbers above)
SANDAKAN


No 1 - 9 for boxed censor and Triangular cancel regardless of colour would appear to have been applied in JESSELTON. No 12 - 13 for boxed censor and Triangular cancel regardless of colour would appear to have been applied in KUDAT. No 29 for both boxed censor and Triangular cancel regardless of colour would appear to have been applied in LAHAD DATU. No 28 is also probably cancelled in Lahad Datu but I haven't seen a clear picture on censored covers. The rest of the numbers up to 33 (as seen so far) may have been applied in SANDAKAN, although one cover with violet tringular cancel no 34 was cancelled in JESSELTON. This is of course a very superficial study and a simple generalisation. Not all censor numbers are seen. Therefore, ommission may happen. (Note: You may share your censored covers if the number and town appear to be different from above)  

Red Boxed censor No 17 - Sandakan & NOT OPENED BY CENSOR mark

Violet Triangular cancel no 21 - Sandakan

There appears to be about 3 varieties of the tringular censor mark in terms of dimension and design:- (a) 46mm x 44mm x 44mm, (b) 48mm x 48mm x 48mm, (c) 43mm x 43mm x 43mm. Different cancellar also used i.e steel vs rubber. Similarly, the boxed censor also varies widely in terms of size and font used in the cancel. At least two censor labels are used during the censorship period, one of which is a print of the Company's coats of arms.

In summary, although censor marks were never applied for philatelic purposes, they form an important role in philately nonetheless. The different types of cancel used, the various shades of colours applied and of course the labels used, make the whole censorship mails altogether thrilling collectibles! Although there are gaps in our current knowledge in this area, in-depth studies and consensus should bridge these gaps and hopefully expand our understanding.


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Ebay News & Reviews

Looking back in ebay in the last few weeks, many interesting items appeared. There are some rare and expensive stuffs of note. The following are a shortlist of what I find worth mentioning:

1. Forged North Borneo Cover



This cover appeared in March 2012 with a starting bid of US$9.00. Two bidders fought over this 'unique' cover and the winner paid US$21.50. Sold by an Austrian seller, the cover is supposed to be sent from "Borneo" to Prague, Czechoslovakia. Purpotedly sent on "28.XI.1932" from "Borneo", the cover is franked with British Protectorate stamp (in use from 1901 to approx 1905), which apparently also cancelled with an incomplete obliterator of six bars.

The circular cancel is probably not even a cancel but likely to be a pen graffitti on the cover and the stamp itself with amusing design. There is also a nice blue airmail label affixed. Verdict: FAILED forgery!


2. Sarawak's SG1 Forgery


According to W.R. Forrestor-Wood [Sarawak Stamps & Postal History], crude forgeries on Sarawak's SG1 exist in three forms - (a) Brown on yellow perf. 11½, (b) Orange brown on light brown perf. 11½ and (c) Green on white, usually imperforate.

The one above is the green on white issue with perforations, and appeared in ebay on March 2012 and ended with a final price of US$12.50 after 6 bids. This is a straightforward forgery, but did you know that it was used as an illustration of the genuine stamp in the catalogues and albums of an American philatelic company for some one hundred years? [Ref: Barry Floyd, The White Rajahs of Sarawak, A Philatelic & Historical Study]

3. A US$1,500 Japanese Occupation Stamps?


These collection of Japanese occupations stamps of North Borneo and Malaya are supposed to be rare and they did actually reached a final bid price of US$1,500! The question, however, is that the underbidder's bid was only $130. So it looks a bit dodgy because the winner pushed the ending price from $130 to $1,500! Furthermore, clicking at the winner's bidding profile, this was his only bid in the last 30-days which is quite uncommon. I'm not sure what's the seller's reserve price but he did say that it was a low-ish reserve price and that he had no knowledge of the stamps value.

Put that aside, these stamps consist of North Borneo and Malaya Japanese occupation stamps. The North Borneo group consists of what seems to be SGJ16 (Cat £600), SGJ17 (Cat £1600), SGJ33 (Cat £4500), and SGJ20 (Cat £5.50). The Malaya group consists of SGJ297, SGJ305, Perak SGJ250, St. Settlement SGJ149, among others.

The seller mentions that the stamps were given to his wife by her Japanese frriend, Ms. Michiko Watanabe, an Education Minister(?). The stamps were formerly part of her father's collection, Lt. Watanabe, said to be one of the Japanese offficers stationed in Sandakan during WWII. According to the seller, the collection was found laying beneath Watanabe's drawer after he passed away and was subsequently passed to the seller's wife and in turn to the seller. Apparently only these stamps were auctioned in ebay by the seller.

4. North Borneo Postcards

Offered at US$200 each, all of these postcards are quite scarce. They would certainly reach a higher bidding prices if listed in an auction:


The American Consulate, Sandakan, B.N.B

Type of Native Bridge, B.N.B

Daughters of the Woods, Borneo


5. 1932, Sarawak Airmail Covers



This Sarawak airmail cover was sent from Kuching to Hobart, Tasmania, Australia via the first air mail service between Singapore and Australia on January 14, 1932. Franked with Sarawak's 3¢, 10¢ and 50¢ and tied Kuching Jan 13, 1932. Backstamped Singapore Jan 16, Perth Jan 9 and forwarded to Hobart Feb 10, 1932.

Affixed is a light blue airmail label with the words "BY AIR MAIL".



S.P.G Coloured Postcards of Borneo

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Carriers in N. Borneo

SPG Coloured postcards of Borneo

S.P.G stands for Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. This was an Anglican missionary organization based in Britain and Ireland. It was founded by Reverand Dr, Thomas Bray in 1701. In its initial mission, priests were sent to North America to provide English colonialists with access to the worship of the  church of England. Since its first inception, the society grew larger and by 1900s thousands of missionaries have been sent venturing into over 50 countries. They worked closely with the indigenous and native people and soon became their priority than the care of the colonialists.

Many types of postcards exist but S.P.G. postcards are quite notable for their coloured version although Black and White issues also exist.Because of its worldwide missionary expediation particularly in the British colonies, postcards were produced in countries like New Guinea, India, Australia, Japan, Burma, China, Korea, Singapore and many more. The first 6 postcards from the society were published around 1904 on scenes in Chotta-Nagphur, India; West Africa; New Guinea; N. India, portrait of Chinese Mandarins and picture of Christian Japanese graduate in Kobe, Japan.

In the context of Borneo (North Borneo & Sarawak), several coloured postcards were issued. Two of the known postcards depicting North Borneo showed scenes originally published by Funk & Sons, Sandakan on (1) Carriers in North Borneo; and (2) Dusuns, Native of North Borneo. Three known postcards showing scenes of Sarawak depict: (1) A group of Dyaks; (2)  Christian Dyaks, Borneo; (3)  S.P.G Mission School, Banting, Sarawak.

Some of the SPG postcards on Borneo are as follow:


Women and Children, N. Borneo


A Group of Dyaks.

Christian Dyaks, Borneo

SPG's first Postcards:



There is a nice article written by the Malaya Study Group here on SPG missionary postcards.
 



North Borneo cover sold for $26,670!

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A US$26,000 North Borneo Cover

It is amazing how this cover reached a surprising final price of HK$207,000(US$26,670)! The initial estimate for the cover was HK$ 1,500 - 2,000. It was auctioned in Hong Kong on 9-10 March 2012.

The cover was sent from Sandakan to Austria and franked with North Borneo 2¢ red brown (SG38) paying postage to Singapore and Straights Settlements 8¢ orange (SG52) paying postage to Austria, both are tied by oval grill killer with Singapore AP 6 90 transit alongside. Two May transits on reverse.

The top most aspect of the cover is printed with "Noord-Borneo Tabak Maatschappij" (North Borneo Tobacco Society). Below, the capital "AMSTERDAM" was scribbled and "Sandakan B.N.B" inscribed in its place. The cover is addressed to Anton Frank Esq, Vienna, Austria.

Tobacco Estates in North Borneo

Tobacco plantation played an important role in North Borneo's economy in the early 1900s. In 1888 alone, there were about 70 private-owned tobacco companies in the whole state with a total of approximately 600,000 acres of land acquired. Forty of these companies were based in Sandakan Residency, mostly owned by Dutch entreprenuers.

Noord-Borneo Tabak Maatschappij is one of the bigger tobacco companies, producing its own coins for payments to the labour worker:

SSS Spring Auction

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Introduction

As the snow melts, spring ushers with blooms of flowers and warm sunshine. April has arrived. 31st of March marked the Sarawak Specialist Society's Spring auction which was unequivocally another successful one by the ever expanding society. It was held in Tiverton Hotel, Devon, UK and comprised of 684 total items being auctioned. It was a pity that although I had planned to join the event this time, something else turned up and I ended up going for some conference in Dublin. Nevertheless, I think that the auction was still worth mentioning albeit superficially so.

The one-day auction ended on 31st March involving 684 items of British Borneo (Sarawak, Brunei, Labuan, North Borneo) and St. Settlements. Sarawak represent almost half of the items auctioned totalling 320 (46.8%), followed by North Borneo/Labuan amounting to 243 (35.5%), Brunei 30 items (4.4%) and the rest including St. Settlement, British forces, and Japanese occupation numbering 91 (13.3%).

At the end of the auction, 484 items were sold (70.8%) while the remaining 200 items remain unsold and should be available for purchase at a reserve price, 14 days post auction. The total amount of the auction reached approximately £36,200 excluding the vendor's and buyer's premiums. Two items stole the show by being the most expensive items on the auction at a stagerring £1,650 each.

The Spotlights:

Although there were many nice items being auctioned, several items proved to be of exceptional quality. These are:

1. Post Office Memo (GDP 3000 -4/08) to J.G. Rowan reading '2 Taxed letters await your applicationat this office. Postage Due 24c', with JESSELTON 7 MAR 1913 B.N.B. cds. On reverse, B.P. 24c POSTAGE DUE tied JESSELTON 8 MAR 1913 B.N.B.
Note: Unfortunately, no photo was shown in the auction catalogue which would be nice for future perusal. The new owner may hopefully share the picture of this philatelic gem. Final Price: £1,650.

2. 1888-97 unissued $2, $5 and $10 unmounted stamps of Sarawak.

 


Note: These three stamps are valued at £950 each according to Stanley Gibbons catalogue. They were prepared for use but were never issued. Final Price: £1,650. 

3. 1875 THREE CENTS RECEIPT stamp, imperforated colour trial strip of 6 printed in blue with large inscription panel below SARAWAK GOVERNMENT RECEIPT STAMP THREE-CENTS..& Maclure & Macdonald Lithrs London imprint. Final Price: £1,110.

4. 'British North Borneo Herald' newspaper wrapper addressed to EE Abrahamson, c/o China Borneo Co, Sandakan, bearing a superb strike of SANDAKAN ONE CENT POSTAGE PAID cds. Final Price: £800.

 

5. 1875 THREE CENTS RECEIPT stamp - Lithographic proof in black on thick white paper. Showing coloured line between top front lines above corner C and coloured spot in the curve of C in RECEIPT. Ex-Shipman collection. Final Price: £800.

 

6. 1934 definitive set (no 'a' nos) in plate proof pairs on gummed paper. Final Price: £600.

7. A fine used example of the 1899 2 CENTS/TWELVE CENTS red, with surcharge inverted. Accompanied with B.P.A. Expertization Certificate dated 28 Jan 1985. Final Price: £575.

 
8. Sample impression on envelope (Addressed to C F N Wade Esq Sandakan, endorsed by Air Mail) in the upper left corner inscribing 'sample impression' in red. Also a superb strike of boxed Air Mail cachet on the upper right corner . Final Price: £540.