Ebay Review - North Borneo, Labuan, Sarawak Stamps


1. Straits Settlement Stamps used in Labuan

I recall this stunning cover being auctioned in Spink Singapore on Sept 2010 as part of the Stolz collection. The hammer price then was S$1,100 (or approx US$840 in Sept 2010). It reappeared in ebay on May 2012 with an opening price of US$750 and ended with 1 bid after 7 days. It is apparent therefore that the seller didn't make any profit from the sale and in fact was making a loss of more than US$90 including buyer's premium. This proves my belief that for expensive items, ebay might not be the best place to sell afterall...

Back to the cover, this is a registered envelope to Scotland franked with six different values at 21c. (6c. Imperial rate plus 15c. registration) cancelled with superb "labuan" c.d.s. (Type D11), showing boxed "recommande" h.s. (Type R5) and registration label at foot.

Historically speaking, Labuan (and Brunei) officially became part of the Straits Settlements administration in 1st January 1907 to 1st January 1942, when the Japanese first landed in Labuan. By letters Patent dated 30 October 1906, Labuan was incorporated with Straits Settlements and ceased issuing its own stamps, explaining why within this time span, Straits Settlement stamps were being used in Labuan. It became part of the Colony of North Borneo again in July 1946.

2. Pead cover with Brunei and Labuan frankings

Pead cover with mixed frankings of Brunei and Labuan stamps. The Brunei postage rate is 23½¢ and Labuan rate of 18¢ with all stamps tied to the cover. Typical Paed cover date of 22 JUL 1895 in Brunei and Labuan cds dated 25 JY 1895. Registered no 1062, consistent with Brian Cave's listing of Peads cover which begins with number 903. Ended at US$499 in May 2012 after 2 bids.

3. Fake Maltese Cross

I'm glad that nobody actually bidded for this set of fake Maltese cross stamps at an opening bid of €95. As a rule there are two varieties of colour in the overprints - magenta or light carmine. Anything exceedingly bright red in colour as the picture above is likely to be forgery. Furthermore, the edges and the points at the centre of the cross are usually sharp in genuine overprints. The fake overprints on the contrary usually have blunt and wide edges and the points at the centre are usually thicker than the genuine ones.

In addition to that, when you start seeing a maltese cross overprint on a CTO North Borneo stamp, don't turn back, run away quick because you know it's fake!

4. Sarawak Japanese Occupation Cover

This is a registered Sarawak cover sent locally and franked with full set of un-overprinted Japanese stamps from 1937-40 series (1 sen - 8 sen); and the 1942 issue of 5 sen claret. Tied with Sarawak cds dated 1 OCT 1942 with Kuching boxed registration cachet. At the back is a circular "SARAWAK CONSTABULARY LICENSE OFFICE" with initials in red. Also stamped with an oval chop in blue with Chinese characters. Ended at US$610 in May 2012.

Historically speaking, Sarawak was invaded by the Japanese army on December 17th, 1941. Officially, on October 1st, 1942, a series of un-overprinted Japanese stamps were made available for use in British Borneo, having arrived at a much earlier date in September 1942. These stamps are usually cancelled with existing "English" postmarks before overprinted Japanese stamps became available together with the cancels.

5. North Borneo 'On Government Service' letter

This cover is a registered cover sent from Jesselton to USA in 1932. The interesting part is of course the red wax seals at the back, bearing the North Borneo's coat of arm impression. Franked with a block of four 12¢ stamps and cancelled Jesselton cds. There is also a faint chop at the lower left corner which I suspect to be the Jesselton GPO cancel. Ended at US$179.50.


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