The Hunt for Great Postmarks



There seems to be a recent upsurge in interests in North Borneo postmarks, especially the rare, less commonly seen ones. The three pictures below are quite testimonial to this. All were listed in ebay from a Dutch seller, and actually ended today, 25 April 2010. Lot [1] reached a whooping winning bid of $765.51, while lot [2] and [3] managed to get more than $200 in hammer prices. All won by a single bidder, although with stiff competitions and attracted more than 10 enthusiastic bidders. 

Lot 1

In lot [1], let's have a look at the most obvious postmarks i.e. the ones on the $5, $10 and $2 stamps. The purple $5 stamp is the 1889 version, tied with Kudat circular date stamp (cds) right at the centre, dated 29 MR 1892. This is the second earliest postmark from Kudat. From 1886 - 1894, it is usually strucked in black ink and later from 1894 - 1895 in blue, before black ink being used again from 1895 - 1900. The the green $2 stamps bear essentially the same postmark, dated 17 SP 1892. The postmark in $10 shows the year in 2 digits compared to the $5 and $2.


The first and second rows consist of semipostal stamps overprinted with the carmine Maltese cross and black inscription of "Red cross two cents", produced in 1916 and 1918 respectively. A proportion of these stamps was sold by the National Philatelic War Fund in aid of the Society of British Red Cross and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. This was to fund the wounded or for the soldier's widow and orphans, following the World War I, where Great Britain declared war on Germany in August 4, 1914. The stamps sold by the National Philatelic War Fund are usually mint, whereas the ones retained by the North Borneo company are either in mint condition or used postally. The postally used stamps with this overprint are particularly rare especially from towns other than Sandakan (the capital city from 1883 - 1946). In the picture above, at least 2 stamps bear a clear Kudat postmark on the overprinted stamps, while the rest show vague cds from the same town.

Interestingly, the lot also includes some of the earliest North Borneo stamps, largely bearing the Kudat postmark as well. This is to be expected because Kudat was the capital city of North Borneo from 1881 - 1883, before being moved to Sandakan.

Lot 2


Stamps in this lot are largely tied with Sandakan postmark, the unique circular dated mark within a rectangular box as well as Tawao cds. The Tawao postmark is quite difficult to find but the Sandakan postmark is relatively common.  The green-black 18 cents stamp, as Silamstar pointed, was overprinted with the red "20 CENTS" inscription just after 2 months it was produced, therefore postmarks outside of Sandakan are considered very rare. Please look at his Kudat postmark on the 18 cents stamp here. The two 18 cents stamps in this lot bear the Sandakan postmarks. The other postmarks in this lot are unclear.

Lot 3


This lot consists of mostly Kudat cds and some Sandakan cds.


silamstar said...

Lot 1. : Both the $5 and $2 had Proud's D2 pmk with a A on top and 4 digit year, though a 2 digit year D2 is also used but the $10 is a Proud's D3 pmk without the A on top.

Lot 2. : I was looking at the 1909 18c stamp & see that both may be used in Sandakan. For the short 2 month usage, it is hard to find any usage outside Sandakan. Check my blog on June 2, 2008. It was thought to be a fake KUCHING pmk but later matched with a KUDAT pmk.

Marcel said...

Hello Silamstar. I just realised that the $10 is actually D3 rather than D2, all thanks to you! The date in the cds is 22 APR 93, and according to Proud, the year in two digits were used only from 1 Jan 1894! :)

Anonymous said...


Long time didn't see you all (around 10 yrs,I think), the stamps your mentioned above are with me now at Keningau/North Borneo(At Last).

Best Regards and Happy hunting


Marcel said...

Excellent Anthony! Nice stamps! Perhaps sometime you could show them to us :)

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