People like occasional lies to brighten up the days, provided that they know the truth. There are always makers, takers and fakers around, but a totally bogus issue not resembling the original issue is quite rare. Hitler once said that if you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed...This might be the prime motivation of the original issuer of these bogus Sarawak stamps.
These interesting issues of bogus Sarawak stamps appeared in ebay recently with decent ending prices. The seller explicitly mentioned that they are bogus or Cinderella stamps, and yet, as expected, people still bid for them. The reason is that although they are outright bogus and carry no real philatelic significance, they are quite uncommon and therefore of some interests to Sarawak collectors.
According to W.R. Forrester-Wood, several values have been recorded: 2c (green), 3c (blue), 4c (sepia), 5c (vermillion), and 10c (mauve). Other known values include 25c., 50c., and $1. The issue is printed on smooth white wove paper and perforated 11.5.
The stamps depict two sailing vessels: a 3-masted schooner on the left side and a native boat on the right. The background is a mountainous coastline. The stamp consists of a monocolour deisgn, with the value typographed in black. The top frame is inscribed with "SARAWAK" and the bottom frame is inscribed "POSTAGE (value) CENTS". The side frames consist of two pillars surmounted by shileds of arabic (Jawi?) and Chinese writings. The middle pillar bears a diamond-shaped device containing a crescent below and a five-pointed star above.
The stamps may be cancelled with bogus cancellations or remain as mints.
The year of issue remains an unsolved mystery. Perhaps the Sarawak collectors can provide some input...
Looking back in ebay several weeks ago, many interesting items appeared. It is apparent that demand for good quality and rare stamps from this country remains strong and shows no sign of abating anytime soon. It is likened to the unstoppable rise of the Chinese stamps in recent years. The most recent Stanley Gibbons catalogue of 2012 documents this quite clearly with many British Borneo (N. Borneo, Sarawak, Labuan and Brunei) show significant increase in catalogue pricing compared to, for example, Straits Settlement and other traditional 'philatelic' countries.
Here's some of the more interesting stuffs that I think worth having a second look:
1. Kudat D2
This interesting Kudat cancel yielded a finishing price of £95.88 after 7 bids. Appeared and ended in ebay on 15.01.2012. The date is "A 6 FE 1890". We know that there are many varieties on the Kudat D2 postmark, for example (a) The year code is strucked in two digits from 01.01.1894; (b) The time code (which is either A or P) invariably omitted from about 09.06.1895; and (c) Usually strucked in blue ink from about 10.03.1894 to 09.06.1895.
This Kudat D2 postmark however, only bears the first two digits of the year plug. As can be seen, the year is completed with a pen, making it 1890. This is not documented in Proud's postal history book. I'm not sure of the relative rarity of such a cancellation but surely, varieties are the spice of life and my guess is that it's not terribly common at all.
2. Royal Dutch Airlines (K.L.M) via Singapore / via Alor Setar
Registered mail from Sandakan to England carried by the Royal Dutch Airline (K.L.M) in 1936 via Singapore. The rate is 75 cents franked with 10c, 16c, 24c and 25c stamps of 1926-28 issue. Registration fee in 1936 to all destinations was 15c. The KLM service to Great Britain was 60 cents, making the overall cost of sending a registered letter using this service to Britain to be 75c. Ended on 13.01.12 in ebay at £280.
Apart from the usual delivery, mails were accepted for airmail transmission via KLM by 1932. A postal notice published in 1932 stated that all letters for this service was to bear a special "BY AIR MAIL" blue label.
This interesting cover appeared in ebay and ended on 29.01.12 with a final price of £348. The cover is franked with Straits Settlement stamps of 50c. and 5c. (55c.) and cancelled Labuan 17 May 1934. Sent to Wales.
The cover is also inscribed in red ink, "By Royal Dutch Air Lines, KLM. Singapore - Alor Setar - London service". Affixed with the blue airmail label required for all KLM flights.
3. Labuan SG12 6c. on 16c. blue
Nice Labuan stamp with two upright surcharge of "6" cents in dim red ink. Cancelled with dotted Labuan K1 cancel in red, somewhat concealing the surcharges. This stamp was listed in ebay and ended on 12.02.2012 at US$385.00 after 15 bids.
4. Registered Jesselton 1928 cover with Jesselton GPO and R10 marks
This magnificient cover appeared in ebay on 7 Feb 2012 and ended after 10 days with a suprisingly 'low' final price of €266!
The cover is franked with 10 stamps (1c.x 3; 2c. x 2; 3c. x 3 and 4c. x 2) i.e. 24 cents, all cancelled with the rare Jesselton R10 (in use from 22.02.28 - 10.12.30) dated 7 AUG 1928. Note also of the faint Jesselton GPO mark at the left lower corner. White Jesselton registration label is affixed on the lower left.
At the back shows a myriad of other cancellations including three red wax seals. The one on the right shows a nice imprint of the North Borneo coats of arms. The Singapore registration mark shows a date of 13 AU 1928. The Jesselton R10 cancel on this cover is black compared to Patrick Cassels' collection auction 2008 (No. 278) which bears a violet ink.
5. Bandau postmark on Malaysia FDC
This FDC is expensive because of the postmark. I doubt it would reach its final price of US$63 if usual cancellation was applied. Bandau postmark was used, according to Proud, from 11.12.1962 to approx. 15.09.63. Very little is known about Bandau as a town and incidentally if you google 'Bandau' it will show another village in Germany.
6. Sadong cancel on Sarawak Postal Stationery
Now a little bit of interesting Sarawak item. This one is a 3-cents postal stationery of Sarawak, addressed to Singapore. The most interesting part is of course the rare "SADONG" D2 postmark dated 29 Nov 1899. Ended at a stagerring final price of US$ 611.67 after 13 bids!
The postal stationery is Sarawak's first postal stationery, which was only produced after the country joined the U.P.U in 1897. It bears a 3-cents value showing the Rajah's face (believed to be from a photo taken when he was 57 years old). Sadong as a post office was opened in the early 1890s but was later transferred to Simunjan in 1937.
As the world's largest flea market, ebay is definetely the best place not only to buy that elusive rare stuffs but also serves as a treasure trove to understand, appreciate and learn history. Last month in January several Borneo P.O.W correspondences were auctioned in ebay. Although not as thrilling as, for example, Agnes Keith's POW correspondence, they still serve as a constant reminder of the dark stain in human history - WWII.
All three correspondences are related to a British Army Royal Artilery, Gunner Ronald C. Killick. The first of these letter is from Killick's wife, Ethel, sent from Southampton on 26 March 1945. 3d Prisoner of war postcard was used with a 25-word message on reverse. Although the Australian 9th division started landing in Brunei and Labuan around June 1945 and that the Japanese officially surrended in Borneo in September 1945, the card didn't seem to reach the adressee.
Although it may have reached Japan, futher sea transmission to other overseas Japanese territories would have been impossible due to vigorous American submarine action. Of note, the card is addressed to Kuching, Borneo where all the prisoners of war were interned. The last known cards received in the POWs camp in Kuching was 2nd December 1944. The card was eventually sent back to Ron Killick's wife with the cachets:
"UNDELIVERED FOR REASON STATED / RETURN TO SENDER"
"RETURNED IN UNDELIVERED MAILS / FROM TERRITORY FORMERLY OCCUPIED / BY JAPANESE FORCES"
The next correspondence is a telegram sent from Australian rest camp in Labuan where Gunner Ron Killick was recovering in hospital after the war. The cable was despatched from Melbourne on the 26 Sept 1945 and received in Southampton on 28 Sept 1945. The message reads "Am safe (in) Australian hands, hope be home soon..". It also advised writing to "LIBERATED P/W CARE AUSTRALIAN BASE P. O. MELBOURNE"
From the Australian camp in Labuan, Ron C. Killick must have been subsequently transferred to Singapore. The next telegram was sent from Singapore on 23 October 1945 and duly received in Southampton on 26 Oct 1945. The message this time reads "Am safe in British hands, hope to be home soon. It also advised a reply to be sent to "C/O PO BOX 164, LONDON EC1, KILLICK". Accompanying the telegram is another letter explaining the situation and some instruction on how to send a reply.
Message to the Peoples of the Colony of North Borneo
From His Majesty King George VI,
Monday, 15th July, 1946
This interesting document of His Majesty King George VI speech post-war to the people in North Borneo appeared in ebay on 24 Jan 2011 and ended on 31st. The document presents a multi-lingual translation of the king's speech, also available in Malay and Chinese, apart from the main message in English. Ended at US$305.00 after 9 bids. Similar document appeared in ebay in July 2011 which ended at US$355.50.
This particular document is affixed with several BMA stamps of North Borneo. It is addressed to John B. Dusing in Jesselton, a well-known North Borneo post-war philatelic collector at that time. The letter is affixed with several North Borneo BMA stamps from 1c. to $1.
The annoying part, however, is that the stamps are affixed right in the middle of the letter! The letter bearing the English message got a V shaped franking, perhaps to have that additional posh effects. This however, defeat the very purpose of sending such a letter as it obliterates the message to a nonsensical extent. Surely the reason for sending the letter is to appreciate the king's message, emphaty, vision and important proclamation about Labuan after the war. Similar irresponsible franking is also replicated in the Malay translation - making it hopelessly illegible.
As can be seen, there are plenty of spaces at the sides for a better franking. With this silly franking idea, the great document is reduced to a purely philatelic collection, with little aesthetic value. I'm glad however that the portrait of their majesties are left undisturbed, which otherwise would make it a totally crippled document.
And by the way...the message in English is as follows:
On this memorable occasion of the inauguration of the Colonial Government in North Borneo, it gives me the greatest pleasure to send this message of greeting and warm welcome to all who thus come to owe allegiance to the Crown.
Since the British N. Borneo Company first established in the reign of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria, its administration has been wise and just. Today its place is taken by the new Colonial Government which will maintain the best traditions of that administration and will constantly endeavour to promote your welfare and to advance your economic and social progress, building on foundation so well laid by the company but so rudely shaken by the war.
I know of your loyalty and courage under Japanese oppression and, with sorrow, how much you have suffered from the losses and destruction of war, and, although immediate tasks of reconstruction and repair must be long and difficult, I look forward, with confidence, to the restoration, in even greater measure, of that prosperity and happiness which you all so richly deserve.
To this inhabitants of Labuan also, which today becomes part of the Colony of North Borneo, I extend my greeting and with it, my earnest wish that this closer relationship with the mainland will be greatly to your benefit.
I'm a North Borneo stamps enthusiast. Apart from North Borneo, I also collect Labuan and to a lesser extent, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya. I'm particularly interested in collecting postal histories and nice postmarks. You may find my ramblings about North Borneo stamps in this blog and hopefully they won't annoy you! :)