Happy New Year 2012!!!


Wishing everyone a prosperous New Year 2012!
May this new year brings us more exciting collectibles, stamps and new philatelic discoveries!
Have a fun celebration!!!

Salvaged North Borneo Mail - Comet Crash near Calcutta 1953


Type 1: "Comet" Crash, Near Calcutta

Type 2: "Comet" Crash, Near Galcutta.

Salvaged Mail, Comet Crash, 1953

Anthony must be a happy man to have in his possession, the two types of Salvaged mails of the Comet crash near Calcutta in 2nd May 1953. There are two types of such cachet, the first one has the right spelling of "Calcutta" while the second one has a wrong spelling of "Galcutta". Both are usually strucked in violet/blue ink.

There is no official record as to how many mails from North Borneo were on board in the ill-fated flight, certainly very few have been seen so far. The topmost cover appeared in ebay on December 2011 with a final price of GBP 182, while the one above appeared in September 2010. There is a water staining on both covers, more notable in the topmost cover - this should perhaps be preserved and should serve as a vivid reminder of the devastating tragedy.

In May 2, 1953, a BOAC comet-1 brought 43 people on board from Calcutta airport to London. It was thought that the plane then crashed 6 minutes after taking off from Calcutta airport due to 'exceptionally' severe tropical storm. This killed all 43 passengers abroad.

Related reading:
Comet Crash near Calcutta 1953
North Borneo Stamps

Interesting Postmarks/ Fiscal Cancels


Serene Mount Kinabalu seen from Pekan Nabalu

I finally had 2 weeks holiday, a perfect timing to escape the bitter European winter. Although planned at the very last minute, I eventually decided to spend sometime traversing the jungles of Mount Kinabalu and to enjoy the relaxing steammy hot spring at Poring as well as to amazed myself at the Langanan waterfall some 3.5 Km deeper in the jungle from Poring. My holiday in Sabah was very brief (barely a week) so I had no chance to meet the other fellow stamp collectors of which I quite regretted. Nevertheless, everything else went well and the short break was fun and clearly the right choice for me..

Nonetheless, ebay went on as usual. Many new lots listed daily, some are notably rare while many are just the usual 'bread and butter' of stamps business. Some of the interesting lots are as follows:

1. Sandakan Double Ring CDS on $10

This near-perfect $10 stamp with nice Sandakan double ring cds attracted 20 bids from 14 bidders. Sold by Philip Malcolm of Principalityauctions, it presents a 'rare example of used' SG86 and ended with a final price of US$203.50. This is certainly a 'cheap' ending price, considering that people nowadays are willing to pay a handsome sum of money even for a $10 with CTO (as Nancy would tell).
Now, all this is assuming that the postmark is genuine, which in this case looks suspicious enough. The date, especially the month and year are unclear. The year is probably 1908, which if true, would be totally a give out to its authenticity because double ring cds of Sandakan are used only starting in 1930s. There are a few other distortions in the year which would be an anomaly if genuine.

2. Jesselton CDS on Postage Due Stamp

These two stamps present a blatant postmark forgery of Jesselton. The date of 20 AU 49 is arranged in horizontal line within the single ring cds, mimicking Jesselton D32. The upper half of the cds is inscribed "JESSELTON" while the lower half is inscribed "NORTH BORNEO". Of note there is a dash before the Jesselton, seen on the 2c stamp. The 8c stamp ended with GBP98 and the 2c stamp with GBP41.

3. The Seal of The General Court of Labuan on $1


The $1 with the seal of the general court of Labuan was listed in ebay, hidden among other less inspiring North Borneo stamps. It was sold by a French seller from Lyon, and ended with a surprisingly low value of US$67 after 23 bids. The postmark, although appear small in the overall lots, presents a sharp and clear struck, quite clearly showing the two unicorns supporting a shield at the centre with a crown on top. Below there is a Latin inscription 'DIEU ET MON DROIT'. The $10 Labuan stamp on the right, also bearing the same seal is for comparison (not mine), selling at multi thousands US dollars if you're interested. :)

4. The Residency of Sillam on $2

This $2 stamp bears a large violet fiscal cancel, presumed to be THE RESIDENCY OF SILLAM. The cancel is unclear, only showing part of the inscription above (THE RESIDEN..). There is some smudgy appearance of the arms of the company at the centre. Ended with a final price of GBP45 after 8 bids.

Vintage Photos of North Borneo 1900-20s


Vintage Photos of North Borneo

Nothing is more thrilling than to discover the early vintage pictures of North Borneo! An album full of vintage photos appeared recently in ebay with an final price of close to GBP500. The album is presented to Mr. E. Horton, the editor and superintendent of Government Printing Office on his retirement (1902-23). These unique black and white photos present an interesting glimpse into the historical North Borneo and some would not only stir your emotions but also brings you into a journey back in 100 years or so:

Check out more photos:
1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10
11    12    13    14    15    16    17    18    19    20
21    22    23    24    25    26    27    28    29    30
31    32    33    34

1883 Provisionals: 8 Cents Surcharge


SG 2: Vertical 8 cents surcharge

SG2 with 15 bars red obliterator

SG2 with Sandakan D2 (Genuine?)

The 2 cents stamp with a vertical 8 cents surcharge is among the scarce stamp issue of North Borneo. It is not even listed in Scotts catalogue and at some point in history was thought to be a total fake altogether. It is no doubt however that the issue is genuine and that authentic examples do exist, although a postally used example on cover has never been seen.

The perforation should be 12 and that the overprint should be followed by a full stop.The length of the overprint from "8" to "s" of cents should be 10.5 mm (or to the stop, 11.75mm). The height of the "8" and "C" should be 2.5mm, while the "e", "n" and "s" should be 1.5mm. The letter "t" is 2mm high.

Copies do show some slight variation in alignment and are not usually perfectly vertical. Only stamps of Transfer A were surcharged with this vertical overprint, and that by default all other surcharges appearing in any other transfers must be forgeries. Furthermore, most forgeries of this issue appear on a wrong perforation of 14, and has no stop after the surcharge. The one on the left shown above is listed in ebay with an opening price of GBP 80.00. The one on the right bears a blue undated Sandakan postmark (D2) - Genuine?

SG3: Horizontal 8 cents surcharge

SG3 with AC mark

SG3 with AC mark
SG3 with AC and Singapore P.O. marks SG3 with Sandakan D2 and Singapore P.O. marks

The 8 cents horizontal surcharge is another rare issue of North Borneo stamp, although perhaps not as scarce as the vertical one. The stamp above on the left appeared in ebay recently and still active. The one on the most right was underpriced at GBP50 and was won by our fellow collector. Three of the stamps bear the blue ink oval "AC" postmark, and three of the stamps bear the Singapore P.O mark as well.

Because the 8 cents definitive stamps were sent in the same case as the second consignment of the 2 cents stamp (transfer B), the provisionals would only be required for about a month, and as such only a small amount of stamps were surcharged. The perforation should be 12. The surcharge is arranged in two lines and consisted of the words "EIGHT CENTS" with the "EIGHT" being 10.5mm in length and "CENTS" being about 10mm, followed by a fullstop. Because of the type setting, there are ten variations of the surcharge in each row across the sheet.

Forgeries exist in a large number, usually on 1886 stamps with perf 14, and mostly on Transfer D. The example below show an interesting forgery :-

What The Fake?


Le Philatelist by Francois Barroud (1929)

Fakey Fakey

Fake and forged stamps are nothing new - they have been around for almost as long as the postage stamp itself. The first stamp was issued in Britain in 1840 while the first classical forgeries began around 1860 - Sperati and Fournier being the two notorious master forgers. Stamps are not only fun collectibles but also form important, high-value commodities. Like many rare or high value items, stamps are targeted by unscrupulous counterfeiters for easy lucrative money from unsuspecting buyers. North Borneo are far from spared.

Ebay and Fakes

There is no better place to find a large amounts of fakes/forged stamps than in ebay. The following stamps are fake/forged North Borneo stamps I found in ebay, just for future references:

1. $10 and $5 with obvious forged postmark

These stamps were both sold by the same seller. The $10 was sold for £17.89, about £10 less than the $5 stamp which ended with a price of £28. The forged postmarks are notably blurry and don't appear to be legible enough. The most obvious give away though was the presence of the obliterator marks (the CTO marks). The forged postmarks are applied on top of the CTO marks to mask it from unsuspecting buyers.

2. Fake Japanese Overprints

This pair of Postage due stamps with Japanese overprint was offered for £50 (under Buy it Now format). The stamps are genuine but the overprint are forged. This is mentioned by the seller in his/her description. Compared to genuine overprints, the faked overprint in this pair appear markedly thicker and looked too 'rigid' as well.

3. Fake "Two Cents" Overprint

This one is still ongoing in ebay at the time this is written. What's interesting about this lot is the 'new variety' of the "RED CROSS / TWO CENTS". The font is markedly different from the genuine overprint and the "TWO" is simply replaced by numeral "2". The genuine overprint is issued in Aug 1918 on stamps of 1909-1911, strangely enough though, the overprint in the lot above also appear in the 2 cents of 1894 issue.

Straits Settlement Stamps with Borneo/Sarawak postmark


Straits Settlement Stamps used in North Borneo

Historically, before North Borneo joined the Universal Postal Union (U.P.U) in 1st January 1891, its postage stamps were only valid to far as Labuan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Letters going beyond these countries had to be franked with either Labuan, Straits Settlement or Hong Kong stamps, which at that time were available in Sandakan, Gaya and Kudat post offices. As Jesselton was only opened as a new settlement after the burning of Gaya in 1897, I find the Jesselton cancels both on the Perak stamps (SG19a,1891) and on the St. Settlement stamp (SG104, 1892) to be very unusual if genuine. There is no doubt, however, that the blue-ink Sandakan double ring cds may be genuine...

The two lots above appeared in ebay recently. The Perak stamps ended with a mere C$15.49 while the other lot was suddenly no longer available. The seller obviously received, as the famous Godfather movie quotes, an offer he could not refuse. Happy Halloween.

Related topic:
The elephant stamps of FMS
Malaya stamps
Straits settlements stamps

Picture Postcards of North Borneo


Picture Postcards

Deltiology is a term referring to the study and collection of postcards. Related closely to philately, collecting postcards is said to be the third largest hobby worldwide (after stamps and coin/banknotes). In those days of 1900s, where internet, email, telephone and even camera are not available, picture postcards would have been the only sensible way of communication between families and friends. The depiction of scenes/old towns/local people in many of those postcards now give us some invaluable historical images and a rough glimpse into the life, activity and scenery of North Borneo in the olden days.

In the last few weeks, several interesting North Borneo postcards have been listed in ebay. As the ancient saying goes 'A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words', here's some of the nice postcards of North Borneo/Labuan to be admired and appreciated:

1. Harbour Office, Labuan coloured Postcard

This coloured postcard depicts the Harbour Offices of Labuan. The backside is not shown. It reached a remarkable final price of US$ 400.50 with 9 bids. The top right is affixed with two stamps of 2 cents and cancelled with what possibly a Jesselton cancel to me. The seller mentions the year to be 1917. I'm not sure which one is the publisher but possibly from Singapore.

2. Sandakan Fishing Boat

This one ended with C$255 after 3 bids. It shows two native fishing boats and a bigger ship at the horizon. There is no caption or reference on the front side apart from number '66' at the right lower corner. At the back, the postcard is franked with 8 cents stamp and cancelled Sandakan, 20 Jun 1927. The message is written in English but surprisingly sent to one of the most uncommon European destination - Talinn, Estonia. There is no mention of publisher at the back but based on the heading "Postcard" above, this is probably produced in Singapore by Japanese photographers and artists in the 1920s. This can be confirmed by finding a triangular space for affixing stamp at the top right - covered in this postcard.

3. Jesselton Scene, North Borneo

Sold for £54.10 by a seller from Poland. This one depicts a view of Jesselton in the olden days. Published by Phillippe & Sons, Sandakan. The back has two 1c. stamps - both uncancelled. Sent to Germany. Curiously, the above right is scripted 'Registered'.

4. Type of Native Children (Bajau Tribe), North Borneo

The postcard captures a nice atmosphere within the sea-dwelling Bajau tribe of North Borneo. There are about 22 children shown in the picture (I might be wrong) - The hero must be the one at the very front! There are also several boats characteristic to the sea-Bajaus shown in the picture. 2 cents stamp of the British Protectorate issue is affixed on the front. The postcards is published by Phillippe & Sons, Sandakan (No.40) Final price US$ 174.95.

5. Maxi Card of a Native Riding a Buffalo

Maximaphily is a special branch in philately related to the study and collection of Maxi Card (or Maximum card). This is a type of card whereby the photo depicted resembles the picture shown in the stamps. The above postcard is pretty much the best possible example - the stamps used depict a native riding a buffalo - the card shows the exact same scene. The stamps are cancelled with Sandakan double ring cds dated 1 Jan 1939 - Earliest possible use. At the back shows some scribbles. The postcard is published by K Ltd (Kodak Limited).

6. Liwan Dusuns (or Hill Dusuns) of North Borneo

The postcard presents the Liwan tribe called Dagas (or Hill Dusuns) of North Borneo. This group of 10 women and men are carrying their produce - possibly for a trade in a local market (Tamu). One guy is carrying a gong - the most important musical instrument among the natives of North Borneo. The postcard is sent to the US but I'm not sure if 3 cents is the right rate for such a destination. Nonetheless it's a nice collectible. This postcard is published by Funk & Sons, Sandakan (No.49) but note also that the same picture is also published by another postcard publisher in Singapore, S.P.G (series 21) with a capital that reads 'Carriers in North Borneo'. Final price: US$ 192.50.

7. Mount Kinabalu, B.N.B

An interesting real photo postcard sent by Mr. Fung Shong Kong of Sandakan - a renowned name in postcard collection. This one depicts the majestic Mount Kinabalu (13,450 ft.) franked with two stamps of 3 cents and 5 cents. The card is type-written on 11.1.37 and sent to New Jersey, US. Final price: US$ 167.50.

8. Dyak, Wild Men of Borneo

Shows two Dyak men of Borneo with their traditional headhunting dress. Both men have their weapon at the sides. Franked with multiple North Borneo stamps (7) and sent to an uncommon destination of Zamboanga, Philippines. Unknown publisher.

Agnes Keith Letter Sold for over £1000


Agnes Keith Letter 1943

This cover appeared in ebay on 29/09/2011 and ended on 09/10/2011 with a jaw dropping price of £1022! Surprisingly there were only 6 bidders involved in the whole 10-day frenzy with a total of 16 bids. Unfortunately the auction was privately listed where the bidders' identities were completely unknown.

The cover itself is a remarkable piece of history and antiquity from Agnes Keith. It was sent from Los Angeles, California (cds dated Oct 30, 1943) to Kuching, Sarawak, during the occupation of Borneo. It was received in the women and children's camp at Batu Lintang, Kuching. The letter itself brings that warm sentimental feeling because it was sent by Agnes Keith's aunt from California (Mrs. H. M. Kimball) who would have been distressed by the news of their captivity by the Japanese - I wonder what the content of the letter would have been.

The cover is marked with two censors - the US and the Japanese censor markings. The U.S. censor is strucked at the left lower corner in circle numbered 849, while there is a rare boxed Japanese censor mark at the centre left. The cover also bears an unusual "Ag" (Auslandprufstelle) transit mark indicating a transit to Vienna, Austria. A transparent examiner's tape was applied at the left aspect of the cover numbered 793.

Another examples of Agnes Keith's letter here.

Introducing A Brilliant North Borneo Blog!


I would like to thank G. Express for introducing a new blog on North Borneo stamps. I find the blog to be very informative, well written and a great pleasure altogether. It is a great blog to learn about some rarities, postmarks, forgeries etc. Please visit the blog at:

I would like to welcome our new friend and I'm looking forward for his writings, sharings and above all his excellent North Borneo stamps collection!

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.