Interesting Postmarks of North Borneo



This lot of very interesting North Borneo postmarks appeared in one of the internet auction sites about a week ago. Ebay of course is not the only source to find good quality stamps. In this lot, there are several very interesting postmark which I think are rarely offered as a lot.

The first one is the "Gayah" postmark probably the D2 type (1886-1897). The postmark on the stamp is not clear but I'm sure if you look carefull you can make out the faded "YAH" on the top. I can't seem to be able to decipher the date or year.

The next interesting postmark is the "Tangkulap" postmark on the green 2 cent stamp. The postmark is very clear and shows "TANGK..". No other North Borneo postmark starts this caption. The date is visible but not very clear, my guess is "8 AU 1911". Tangkulap is a small town situated in the Sandakan residency. The post office was closed by 1916, presumably due to not having received enough mails. This is the only example of postmark from Tangkulap.

The other interesting postmark is the Paquebot postmark on the bottom stamp in the picture. This is very likely to be from Sandakan due to the characteristic of the postmark itself. The other postmarks that require special mention include the train mail, and mail train (not quite the same), the tawao postmark and the clear Tenom postmark on the 2 cent British Protectorate stamp.


Very lucky for the winner to win this lot at a very good price of $66 with 5 bids, competing with just another enthusiastic chap. This emphasizes the point that while ebay is an excellent site to look for great stamps, it is not the only good site out there. In fact, you'll face more competition, and more 'snipers' than you can ever imagine, making you pay more.

Interasia Auction: A Review


Victory of Cultural Revolution Block                  1897 Red Revenue Stamp                      1968 "Whole Country is Red"


From 30-31 January 2010, Interasia acution house based in Hong Kong held a historical stamps auction which they reported as the largest ever sale of China stamps anywhere in the world. Cumulative price realisations for all auction was HK$ 57 million (£4.76 million). The auction also made an important milestone in the Chinese philatelic circle by fetching the most expensive Chinese stamp and Chinese philatelic item. The block of four stamps of 1968 "Victory of Cultural Revolution" managed to reach a jaw dropping hammer price of HK$ 6.67 million (£556,255), making it the most expensive and valuable philatelic material of China. Another mind blowing record was the 1897 red revenue stamp of $1 on 3 cents, reaching HK$ 5.52 million (£460,400), making it the single most expensive Chinese stamp to date. Another highlight in the auction was the 1968 stamp of "The whole county is red", reaching a magnificient price realisation of HK$ 3.45 million (£287,770). These prices include a 15% buyer's premium.

North Borneo Auction?

This particular stamp was the most expensive North Borneo stamp in the auction, reaching a hammer price of HK$ 32,200 (£2680). This is an SG #54 with a catalogue value of £9000, issued in 1891-1892, with a 6 cents surcharge on the 8 cents. This is a well centered stamp, clean surface and good fresh colour. Seller also mentioned a small thin spot, light horizontal crease (from hinging), unused with part original gum. The stamp also comes with a B.P.A certificate of authenticity 2009.

This lot comes second in North Borneo category, reaching a hammer price of HK$ 20,000 (£1666). This lot consists of 1889 "and Revenue" overprint ½c. and 10c., 1886 perf. 14 3c. and 5c. surcharges (2 sets), 1886-87 to 50c. (unused) with 1c. pink in pair with 4c., 1889 $5 (2) and $10, 1892 8c. on 25c., 1891-92 6c. on 10c. "Postage & Revenue" (2, unused), 1894 Pictorial set, 1894 50c. (3) to $5, 1897-1902 Pictorial set, plus corrected inscriptions 18c. and 24c., 1899 4c. on 5c. to 4c. on $5 (narrow setting), 1916 2c. on 3c. and 4c. on 6c. "s" inverted, 1922 Malaya-Borneo set, 1931 50th Anniv. set, 1939 1c. to $5, and Postage Dues with 1895-97 2c. to 24c., 1897-99 to 12c., 18c. and 24c., 1901 3c. to 8c., 1902-12 "British Protectorate" basic set less 16c. and 1918-30 Dues, some duplication, mixed condition with some faults particularly on earlier issues (including some stamps noted above) and some toning and tone spots as to be expected, overall a fine and valuable collection.

From North Borneo With Love



Last summer, I travelled to Barcelona, Spain with some friends. Apparently we managed to get a cheap flight from Dublin even though summer flights to Spain or Italy are generally more expensive in this time of the year. We spent a week in Barcelona visiting famous places like the Sagrada Familia, the beach and also enjoying exquisite Spanish foods and not to mention the night outs in Las Ramblas area. Anyway, towards the end of the trip I thought perhaps its a good idea to start hunting for stamps instead. It's actually hard to find any philatelic shops in Barcelona as they are usually located in the periphery of the city. Nevertheless, I managed to find two postcards and here's one of them that I bought from one of the shops for €8! That's definetely one of the best bargain I had in the trip. You can sell this type of postcard in ebay for 1000% of the original value at €80 or more; like this one here offered by an ebay seller for US$ 99.99 even without a stamp.


The postcard above was published by Funk & Sons, Sandakan, North Borneo from 1906-1920s showing three semi nude Dayak women. The postcard was posted from Sandakan on 1st of December 1931 to Señor Jose Ordiñana of Barcelona and arrived on 9 January 1932 (1 month). The postcard is in sepia colour rather than black and white and an 8 cent North Borneo stamp was used; cancelled with a clear Sandakan postmark. At the back, the green colour writing was added to the postcard later, most likely by the receiver.

The three women on the postcard are shown to wear a traditional Dayak costume at that time. They wear coils of brass on the abdomen with belts made of coins on the hip. There is also a chain of smaller coins at the end of their 'sarong' which I suppose will make a jingling sound whenever they move about. All three women are holding something, of which I could not make out what, possibly a little something from the photographer.

Demographic Information of North Borneo

The only Dayak tribe in North Borneo is the Muruts, forming the third largest indigenous group in North Borneo after Kadazandusun and Bajau. The three women above do not seem to be from the Murut ethnic group due their distinctive traditional costume. I think they are more likely to be of Iban ethnic group of Sarawak. Dayak people are the well known headhunters of Borneo, used to be animists but now mostly converted to Christianity and some to Islam. Dayak is an umbrella term for many other subgroups such as Iban, Bidayuh, Kenyah, Kayan, Kelabit, Penan etc. In North Borneo, Murut and Lun Bawang are considered the Dayaks, mainly inhabiting the southern part of the region, bordering Sarawak and Kalimantan, (Dutch Borneo).

Happy Chinese New Year 2010 - Year of the Tiger


Happy Chinese New Year 2010!

According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2010 is the Year of the Tiger, which commences on February 14, 2010 and ends on February 2, 2011. The Tiger is the third sign in the Chinese Zodiac cycle, and it is a sign of bravery. This courageous and fiery fighter is admired by the ancient Chinese as the sign that keeps away the three main tragedies of a household, namely fire, thieves and ghosts.

Tigers are physically powerful, gracious, independent, brave and extremely bold animals. They are friendly and loving but can also be selfish and short tempered. Tigers seek attention and power; frequently they are envious in a relationship. Tigers live dangerously which often leads to trouble. They are intolerant, take risks and are always searching for excitement. Tigers are also instilled with a good dose of courage. This means that if you're born in the year of the tiger you are, according to the Chinese belief, likely to have many of these traits! :)

My Inverted "2 Cents" Overprint of North Borneo Stamps



Look at the "2 cents" black overprint on the stamp. You'll notice that the "c" and "e" and possibly the "n" are inverted. The "c" almost resembles "o" whereas the "e" is clearly inverted. I noticed the error recently while sorting out my North Borneo stamps collection. Due to its black(ish) background, I didn't realize this for so many years and could not recall where I got the stamp from. In fact, I almost sold this stamp together with the other cheap North Borneo stamps in ebay months ago. Nevertheless, as common in philatelic world, there is always a potential find even among junks and rubbish.

Potential Value

In Stanley Gibbons catalogue, a stamp bearing a normal overprint above is catalogued at £27 for mint and £15 for used (SG 186). There is no mention of this specific error even though there is a mention of the "s" being inverted and valued at £100 for mint and £95 for used (SG 186a). Inverted "s" may also means that there is a slight possibility for the other alphabets to be inverted as well. In Scott catalogue, inverted "s" variety is catalogued at $87.50 for both mint and used. I haven't seen any inverted "ce" before, nor have I seen any inverted "s". So I don't know for a fact how much the 'real' values for these verieties. Even though the stamp might be a real rarity, I haven't ruled out forgery although to the best of my knowledge, the overprint has never been forged. If you have some insight please let me know :)

World's Most Expensive Stamp For Sale in May 2010! Yellow Tre Skilling!


Believe it or not this one stamp is the world's most expensive stamp! In 1996, it stunned the philatelic world by reaching a hammer price of $2.3 million at a David Feldman auction in Zurich, Switzerland. By calculating its insignificant weight, this must be the world's most valuable thing on Earth at $85.98 billion per kilogram! It is generally proposed that when the printing of the yellow 8 Skilling Banco was underway, one of the printing clichés was damaged and had to be replaced in the forme. In error, a 3 Skilling Banco printing cliché was possibly inserted. In May 2010, David Feldman will one more time have the honour to sell this stamp and I wonder how much the hammer price will be. Please visit his website here: David Feldman. More information about the tre skilling stamp error and other rare stamps, read Glen Stephens' article in his website.

Kuala Belait Postmark on North Borneo Stamps (BMA)


22 Dec 1945 - 21 June 1946
4 June 1946 - 26 June 1946




The two covers are part of my collection of North Borneo stamps bearing the Kuala Belait postmarks. Kuala Belait is a town in Brunei. During the BMA period, two types of postmarks were introduced and supplied by the Straits Times Singapore. During this time, Brunei as a whole did not produce any new stamps issues and used either North Borneo or Sarawak stamps overprinted with "BMA" until 2 January 1947.
The first cover on top was addressed to R. H. Morland of London from Kuala Belait dated 28 April 1946. It is franked with the 1 cent and $1 BMA stamps of North Borneo and 5 cents and 15 cents stamps of BMA Sarawak.
The second cover, also adressed to London, bears a second type of postmark (D8 Kuala Belait) dated 06 June 1946 or "triple 6". This cover bears the North Borneo BMA stamps of 2 cents, 10 cents and 50 cents.


Kuala Belait is the second largest city in Brunei after Bandar Seri Begawan. The original Kuala Belait post office was built on the site of the present day mosque in Kampong Melayu Asli. On December 16 1941, the Japanese troops arrived at Kuala Belait and invaded the rest of Brunei in 6 days. After the defeat of the Japanese army in 1945, Kuala Belait was administered under British Military Administration (BMA) as a sub office of Miri, Sarawak.

Elopura Postmark (1884-1885)


Elopura (1884-1885)


Elopura cds is used from 1884-1885 before the name Elopura being reverted back to Sandakan. Prior to 1884, oval of bars postmarks were used (or doted postmark). The Elopura postmark is about 2.7 mm in diameter and used in black ink. Even though the official usage of the above postmark was from 1884-1885, it is presumed that it was used unofficially to cancel some high values stamps up to 1890. Elopura postmark used officially is valued approximately 20 times the normal used stamp value.


Sandakan was named Elopura from 1879 to 1887. When Kampung German was burnt down in June 1879, William Burges Pryer, the new British Resident to that region decided not to rebuild the destroyed village but rather to move it to what's now is Buli Sim Sim in 21 June 1879. This new settlement was later named as "Elopura" which means "Beautiful City".



Elopura postmark dated "8 AP 1890". The "AP" (April) in the date is inverted. The stamp is in a very good condition and so is the postmark which is very clear. The Elopura postmark was officially used from 22 January 1884 to 18 April 1885. The postmark on this stamp is the unofficial philatelic version, used on high values stamps up to 1890. This one sells for only US$35 with one bid, not because it is not valuable but because it was listed in a less well known web site.

This stamp appeared in ebay recently (ended 1 Feb 2010). This is SG50 and Scott49 stamp, values £375 (overvalued) and $12.50 (undervalued) respectively. The stamp itself is in a good condition even though there is some minor perforation faults on top left corner and toning in some small parts. The stamp bears the Elopura mark dated "23 AU 1890". According to Proud, this type of postmark was used philatelically (unofficial) on high values stamps up to 1890s. The stamp went for US$ 123.50. Well done to the winner!

Related Topic:
North Borneo Postmarks