Sarawak First Air Service 1930s


Sarawak First Air Service, 1930s

I recently stumbled onto this curious, yet amazing document from the Postmaster General of Sarawak to presumably a collector in airmail philately. It first appeared in ebay with an opening bid of  £199.99 on 26 December 2011, and ended with a jaw dropping price of  £515.67 on 3 January 2012 after 5 bids.

We know that in 1930, there was a seaplane expedition to various cities in British Borneo including Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo. The plane started their voyage in Singapore in 26 May 1930 to Kuching. From there they flew to Sibu and Miri on 30th May 1930 before continued on and reached Kuala Belait and Brunei capital on 1st June 1930. They landed in Jesselton on 2nd June 1930.

The Document

The document is written by the Postmaster General of Sarawak as an Officer in Charge of the new Sarawak Airmail chop. There are three marks in the middle of the letter, the left one bears the Seal of Baram, Sarawak circular mark with the PMG's signature and "o-in-c" below it. The middle aspect is affixed with Sarawak's 4c stamp of Brooke and is cancelled with the circular "Air Service" postmark, the left side then bears the air service mark alone.

The document reads:

"I got yesterday, the new air postmark stamp of Sarawak which is left by the o-in-c [officer in charge?] to stamp such letters, official, as he wishes to send by airmail. The services consist of two months and is the first ever run in Borneo. Though it has not really started yet, I send you a Sarawak chop as in future(?) it may be of interest as the first air service in Borneo. It is put on with my own fair hand and I'm not sure if it isn't against the law?! "
This is certainly a great document and surely it's an illegal one? :)

Related reading:
North Borneo First Airmail 1930
Brunei First Airmail 1930


Anonymous said...

Somebody who worked in the Baram Government Offices must have written this letter of few pages to a friend somewhere about the air service to be extended to Baram if a flying boat should ever have come that way. A special chop like this was prepared in anticipation but no flight ever landed on the river at Baram in the 1928, 1929 or in the 1930's. Other towns like Kuching, Simanggang, Sibu, Miri or Limbang where such flying boats had ever landed to deliver or pick up the air mails did not use such a special chop. The centre being blank probably to inscribe the date of the service should it had happened. Kuching had used special AIRMAIL chops to cancel the mails when they were sent out to Singapore on the 17 Aug 1926 and 13 July 1929. Mails on all other flights later on only used the town postmarks with Airmail labels or inscription to enable the letters to be carried by the flying boats according to the mails notices issued prior to the airplanes arrival. The Sarawak Government Air Service was established in 1928 with the purchase of two De Haviland Moth seaplanes named Royalist and Venus. These planes were too light for the weather conditions in Sarawak, but they served well for about six months, or rather the Venus did, as the Royalist came to a very premature end at Simanggang. The Moth seaplanes did not call at Baram in all the five flights undertaken by the Government Air Service though a special chop was available in anticipation. In the 1930's the Royal Air Force undertook several air survey flights over Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo with the 'Southampton' flying boast and carried mails wherever possible at the various places the flying boats had landed. Baram was not known to have seen a flying boat coming in and unfortunate for the special chop not to be put in use by the Officer In Charge of the Government Offices there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is Chan Kee Tex at as the URL was not accepted in the posting done earlier.

Marcel said...

Mr Chan Kee Tex,

Thank you so much for your elaborate explanation on the airmail service in Sarawak. It's quite unfortunate that Baram wasn't included in the trip by the seaplanes, thereby making the anticipatory seal quite redundant. On the other hand however, this kind of document makes a great philatelic collection and certainly contains one of the rarest Sarawak postmarks.


document finder said...

Great,it's useful to me,how could you know it.

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