S.P.G Coloured Postcards of Borneo


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!


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



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.