Review of the Spink Singapore Auction Sept 2011 - Stolz Collection II



On September 24, 2011, Spink Singapore held an important philatelic auction on collections from British Southeast Asia. This includes rare items from Sarawak, Malaya and states, Singapore and North Borneo. A total of 1244 lots incorporating postal histories, stamps and collection lots were auctioned and only about 58% (730) of these were sold and the remaining 514 lots remained unsold. A bigger proportion of the lots were from Malaya/Straits Settlement, Sarawak representing about 20% and North Borneo/Labuan approximately 10%. There were negligible Brunei lots in the auction.

Cumulative price realisation (excluding buyer's premium) was £418,612. Spink had a similar auction a year ago with a cumulative price of £584,827 - The Stolz I collection.

The most expensive item in that auction was  a historical cover of 1863 written by the ruler of Sarawak, James Brooke to Ms. Browne in London. It managed to topped the entire auction with a remarkable hammer price of S$40,000 (£20,127). Another interesting postal history, also from Sarawak, was the outstanding 1897 cover from Baram to Vienna which managed to reach the final price of S$29,000 (£14,625). From North Borneo/Labuan, a cover postmarked Silam was the highlight of the auction.

The Highlights:
1. The Rajah Brooke Cover

Kuching G.P.O.
1863 (10 Mar.) envelope written by Rajah Brooke to Mrs Brown in London, marked "Marseilles", bearing India 2a. and 4a. pair (one damaged prior to use) tied by very rare "office of registry/sarawak" double-ring handstamp (Type PS2, earliest recorded date) and additionally cancelled "B/172" in transit at Singapore, showing red crayon "1/2" and London Paid arrival c.d.s. (27.4) with, on reverse, red "singapore/p.o" double-ring d.s.; the envelope with recipient's notation at left.
Sold for S$ 40,000

Note: This cover was carried on the P&O "Singapore", which left Singapore on 23 March and arrived at Galle on 30 March, transhipped to "S.S. Mooltan" which left the next day and arrived at Suez on 16 April. It then went overland to Alexandria for the "S.S. Euxine", which left on 19 April and arrived at Marseilles on 25 April.

2. 1897 Baram cover to Austria

1897 (20 Mar.) to Vienna, bearing 1895 2c. tied by "baram" c.d.s. (Type D1) in violet, in combination with Straits Settlements 1894 8c. tied by Singapore c.d.s. (7.4), showing clear Sarawak c.d.s. (5.4) with Singapore and arrival datestamps on reverse. Extremely rare and attractive.
Sold for S$ 29,000

3. Straits Settlement Block of 1 and half cents on half cent

Straits Settlements
— 1 1/2c. on 1/2a. blue, a magnificent block of sixteen (4x4) from the lower left corner of the lower right pane with sheet margin at foot and interpanneau margin at left, unused with mainly large part or full original gum; some splitting/re-enforcing, nevertheless in a fine state of preservation. The second largest unused multiple. A splendid exhibition item. S.G. 1.
Sold for S$ 19,000.

4. Sarawak 1895 Postal Stationery with fine Bintulu cds

1895 (1 Mar.) Straits Settlements 3c. stationery card to London, showing fine "bintulu" c.d.s. (Type D2) at lower left, violet Sarawak c.d.s. and the stamp impression cancelled in transit at Singapore (18.3); the card with corner creases. An extremely rare usage and the only known example of Straits Settlements stationery used at Bintulu.
Sold for S$ 18,000

5. North Borneo 1888 cover with Silam cancel and St. Settlements stamp

North Borneo
1888 envelope to London and redirected locally, bearing 1886 2c. (2) and 8c. tied by circular "silam post office/Lion/b n borneo" intaglio h.s. in blue, upon redirection GB 1d. lilac applied and cancelled by London "s.w./19" duplex, red Sandakan transit c.d.s. on reverse; the envelope a little soiled and with surface abrasion at foot. Very rare.
Sold for S$ 17,000.

Interesting Revenue/Fiscal Cancellations



This week we've got the opportunity to see some of the rarest fiscal/revenue cancellations on North Borneo stamps. These were listed by owley1879, a known member of the SSS. Many bidders participated and some were luckier than the others. Other items listed in the same auction were BMA covers, some revenue stamps (mint and used), a postcard, and stamps lots. Some of the exciting cancels are the following:

The Residency of Sillam

The cancels are strucked in either black or red ink. It is a large double ring oval mark with North Borneo Company crest at the centre. The upper half is inscribed with "THE RESIDENCY OF SILLAM" while the lower half inscribed with Arabic (Jawi) inscription. Note that the Sillam spelling has a double "LL" rather than the usual single "L". The $5 stamp ended with a final price of AU$ 82.00 while the one bearing the red cancel AU$ 51.00. The cancel on the $5 stamp only shows the word "SILLAM" and nothing else while the one with the red cancel is only presumed to be a Sillam cancel because of the writing "THE R" implying "The Residency of Sillam".

Magistrate Court, Jesselton

This is probably type 1 cancel of Magistrate Court, Jesselton. The cancel itself is very clear and nicely strucked on the 50c stamp perfinned "REV/ENUE". It is a large double ring mark with the Company's crest in the centre. This one ended with AU$ 98.85 - something expected for such a fine cancel.

Superintendant of Immigration, Sandakan

Another interesting fiscal cancel of what's possibly the largest cancel in North Borneo - the "SUPERINTENDANT OF IMMIGRATION SANDAKAN". This one is strucked in violet ink and comprises of a double ring cancel with the outer ring being about 5.5cm in diameter and the inner ring about 4.0 cm. It has the company's arms at the centre with a coarse outline and generally lacking in detail compared to other fiscal cancels incorporating the company's arms. Final price: AU$ 45.00.

Judicial Department, Sandakan

Typical Judicial Department cancel with a violet oval-shape cancel. This one is type 1 with "JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT" inscribed above and "SANDAKAN" occupying the lower half. Note the eight pointed stars separating the writings above and below. Compared to type 2, the Judicial Dept type 1 has no "B.N.B" inscription following Sandakan and has distinctive stars rather than asterisk. Ended with a decent price of AU$ 21.50.

Cover with Character - Agnes Keith Letter 1943


Agnes Keith Letter

Everyone probably noticed this unique POW cover sent to Mr. & Mrs. H.G Keith. As the "M.r" was crossed out with pencil, it is natural to assume that it was sent to Mrs. Agnes Keith herself. The accompanying description for the cover is pretty much sufficient to tell the story behind the cover. Of note the cover reached a high end price of £321 although the listing was in private. Another interesting aspect about this cover is that it was resealed with Canadian censor label and handstamped with long box of Japanese violet censor mark "Borneo Prisoner of War Camp" - certainly not a very common feat.

Agnes Keith of course was well known in North Borneo history for writing several autobiographical accounts of life in North Borneo/Sarawak during the World War II. Among these is an account as Japanese POW in North Borneo and Sarawak. This cover was sent to Batu Lintang internee camp when Agnes Keith, her husband and her son were held captive by the Japanese. Silamstar had one of Agnes Keith covers shown in his blog. This one was sent from Sandakan to British Columbia, Canada:

Japanese Occupation Overprint $2 on 1cent


Which One is the Fake Overprint?

These stamps are supposed to have identical overprint but they don't. The one on the left is mint with the overprint appears thicker than the one on the right. There is also other inelligible violet overprint at the back of the second line overprint. The stamp on the right is used, with visible Sandakan double ring cds. The overprints are thinner compared to the left one.
The stamp on the left is claimed to have a certificate of authenticity but the appearance is very similar to the ones known for being fake (Compare the overprint here). The one on the right on the other hand, appeared in ebay some weeks ago with an opening bid of only GBP 0.50!

Beautiful Hand-Illustrated covers from Labuan to NZ 1912


Cover 1: Labuan to New Zealand 1912 Shakespeare's Illustration

These covers appeared in ebay recenty and I thought they were quite eye-catching and beautiful. This one is a nice black and white illustration of Shakespeare's novel As you like it. There is a small writing at the bottom part of the illustration and signed by the painter with letters J, P and K. The cover is addressed to Miss Keasberry of Tirau, Auckland, New Zealand on 21 FE 1912. The sender's rubber stamp is also found at the back reading Labuan B.N.B in violet oval belt with presumably the sender's name, J.P. Keasberry. The cover is franked with Straits Settlement stamp 4 cents and tied with double ring Labuan D8 - the only Labuan postmark with "Post Office" inscription. Backstamped Singapore 26 Feb 1912.

Cover 2: Labuan to New Zealand 1912 Two Doves

Another cover painted in black and white showing two doves facing each other. Also addressed to Miss A. Keasberry with the sender's handstamp at the back reads Labuan B.N.B, J.P Keasberry. The cover is franked with 4 cents Straits Settlement stamp and tied neatly with Labuan double ring D8 postmark dated A 1 AU 1912. The cover was originally sent to Hamilton, Auckland New Zealand but redirected to Tirau (the red writing). Backstamped Singapore 5 AU 1912 and Hamilton 5 SEP 1912.

Cover 3: Labuan to New Zealand 1912 "The Knight Defeated"

The most interesting of all three covers with eye-catching and colourful illustration showing The Knight Defeated. Similarly addressed to Miss A. Keasberry in Tirau. Also franked with St. Settlement stamp of 4 cents and tied with two Labuan D8 cds dated 5 Sep 1912. Backstamped with Singapore transit mark dated 9 Sep 1912 and arrival cds of Morrinsville 17 Oct and Tirau 18 Oct 1912.
Overall, all three covers appeared tatty with some toning and tears but should very well be great collectibles. Seller also mentioned that the original letters were enclosed, I wonder what the contents were. A quick google of "J.P. Keasberry" indicated that he operated a hotel in Victoria, Labuan and that the middle name is "Peach". There is also an obituary section in Singapore Free Press announcing the death of Mr. Keasberry on 29.01.1920 at age 72 years old. If this is indeed referring to him, these envelopes would have been painted when he was about 64.

Case Study: Sandakan 11 AUG 1905 - A fake?



For some reason this particular postmark appear just far too often particularly in ebay but also elsewhere. Just a few days ago the $10 stamp on the left ended with a final price of $66. There are also $2 and $5 stamps bearing the same postmark and are still currently ongoing in ebay. Last week, another $5 stamp, also with the same postamark was sold for £26.

Curiously the postmark would only appear on the 1904-05 stamps issue with the 4 cents surcharge. I haven't seen the same date appear in any other North Borneo stamps issues.

The postmark is supposed to be the Sandakan D11, in use from 29.9.04 to 14.10.15. It is strange that within about 11 years of usage, 11 Aug 1905 seems to occur far more frequently than the whole 11 years usage combined.

Now look at your Sandakan D11, is it 11 AUG 1905?

Note: The Sandakan 11 AUG 1905 is now known to be a CTO instead of a fake cancel. Read more about it here.