Brunei BMA Stamps


British Military Administration (BMA)

The BMA took charge of Brunei's postal service on 17 December 1945 and treated all four British Borneo teritories as one unit (as also had the Japanese). Sarawak stamps of the 1934-41 issue and North Borneo 1939 issue were overprinted "BMA".
None of the Brunei stamps were overprinted primarily because of insufficient stock from previous issue - this is likely because the little number of remaining 1924-37 Brunei stamps might have been used up for Japanese overprints. Also both North Borneo and Sarawak stamps were sufficient enough to provide for postal need in Brunei during the BMA administration.  The use of BMA stamps ceased with the reappearance of new Brunei issues on 2 January 1947.
Three-line postmark supplied by Straits Times, Singapore - Kuala Belait

Three-line postmark - Brunei

Very few postmarks were used during BMA and mainly from the two main towns - Brunei and Kuala Belait. I'm not sure about postal services in Tutong and Temburong during BMA, but both Muara and Seria were not opened until 1948 and 1951 respectively.

Two varieties of postmarks were produced: (a) A three-line postmark provided by the Straits Times in Singapore; and (b) An Australian pattern cds. Both varieties were available for both towns. Two further varieties found for the three-line postmarks for both Brunei and Kuala Belait.

Australian pattern cds - Kuala Belait

Australian pattern cds - Brunei

More about Brunei Stamps.

A Cover That Missed the Last Clipper Service


Pan-American Trans-Pacific Clipper Service (1935-1941)
I showed this cover to one of my non-philatelic friends one day and jokingly asked him if he would buy it for €50. Although quite impressed with the heavy colourful frankings, like an innate reflex, he spontaneously asked me back"Fifty euros??! why would I buy this piece of crappy paper? I wouldn't even buy it for a tenner!!!". I smiled. Of course he wouldn't buy it and I wouldn't sell it at the price either, but trust me it's always fun to tease your friend on the subject from time to time.
Anyway this is a censored cover sent from Lahad Datu to Berkeley, California, USA. It is heavily franked with multiple North Borneo stamps (1939 issue) to a total rate of $2.05 - Evidently a mistake, this being the rate to the UK via the Pacific, plus 2¢ War Tax stamp. The rate to USA with PAA service after 3rd July 1941 would have been $1.55. Tied with Lahad Datu 4 DEC 1941 (D11) with black boxed censor cachet number 28 on the front and back. Inscribed "Per Pan American Clipper" on top left corner, with an airmail etiquette below. US censor label number 1683 on top of (presumably) North Borneo censor label.
Missing the Last Clipper from Singapore
The Pacific clipper service bacame available in Singapore on 10th May 1941. The first clipper (California clipper) reached Singapore on 10th May 1941 and returned back to San Francisco on 12th May 1941 - The first newly extended Pan Am route to Singapore.
With the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7th December 1941, and the US officially declaring war to Japan, the trans-Pacific services were immediately suspended. The last clipper (China clipper) left Singapore on the 30th November 1941, so the only remaining possibility for airmail to the UK and USA would have been the Horseshoe route with its long arduous transit times. Other possibility would have been by ship journeys from Singapore or Australia (Sydney) to the USA.
How Did the Mail Reach USA?
The essential question is how did mails missing the last clipper delivered to their US/UK destinations. Examples from various countries show two possibilites: by surface ship via the Pacific to the US; or via the long Horseshoe route to the UK. 
The numbers of  covers flown on the newly introduced PAA trans-Pacific route from North Borneo are unknown but should be very little. Many covers boarded the clipper in time for the last clipper on the 30th Nov 1941 so there are very few example from British Borneo or Malaya to compare with.
 For the cover above, the US censor 1683 is that of San Francisco, which strongly suggests that it was delivered via ship to the US. This was either from Singapore or other major port cities (eg. Sydney). Nonetheless, because of lacking examples, it would be interesting if details on such ship delivery can be brought to light.

Ebay Review - North Borneo


1. Elopura Bulls-eye Cancel

This catchy Elopura cds was listed in ebay on 7 July 2012, fetching a final price of US$171.45. I recall a slightly tatty example of similar  bulls-eye Elopura cds on $1 stamp which appeared on January 2010 and ended with a mere US$35. Surely, the appetite for such beautiful gems has not waned at all, but in fact shows an ever stronger demand. Another bulls-eye Elopura cds on $10 appearing in ebay on February 2012 fetched $123.50.
Elopura cds was in use from 22.1.84 to 18.4.85 (as per Proud) but was then passed into unofficial hands for philatelic cancellation mostly involving high values stamps up to 1890. This is why bulls-eye cancels are quite prevalent post 1885 for the Elopura cds.
2. Judicial Dept Sandakan (Type 3)
Surely the attention for this lot consisting of 75 North Borneo stamps revolved around the $10 stamp bearing a violet cancel of JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT (Type 3, IDM). This lot ended on 28.07.12 for US$122.50. This large size cancel is similar to the GOVERNMENT OF BRITISH NORTH BORNEO cancels (type B, C and D) but with different caption in the lower half of the double ring. Overall, this is an impressively clear chop for such an elusive fiscal cancellation, and should be a great presentation item.
3. Maltese Cross Cover, 1918
Another superstar item, likely to be one of the most expensive philatelic items for North Borneo in ebay in the last few years. Prices rarely go beyond US$1000 even for very rare items in ebay. This cover however, managed to amass 5 bids to fetch the final price at US$1275! 
The cover consists of almost a full set Maltese Cross stamps issue (1916) from 1¢ to 24¢ (without 25¢). These are all tied neatly to the cover by a characteristic (worn-out) D11 KUDAT cds dated 20 DEC 1918. The cover is a registered mail sent from Kudat to England.
4. Fake Sandakan cds on $10 stamp
This is too obvious to miss, accounting for the very low ending price of  £4.99 after one participation. Collectors nowadays are becoming more knowledgable and sophisticated. The obliterator bars on top right corner and lower left corner indicate that this is a fake one.