Q&A: On North Borneo CTOs


Fake Labuan Stamps with CTO
I think with my little budget I am able to start my North Borneo accumulations by getting 1894 series. But are these series easy to be acquired in non hinged condition just like fresh from post office? I do understand they have surpassed a century and there might be some gum toning.
And how much should I pay to get North Borneo CTO stamps in bulks from ebay? Would like to have them as examples/references and as well as gap fillers.
In general, collecting CTO stamps on North Borneo is not only cheap and affordable but also quite fun especially for beginner. I remember when I was about 15 years old, my collections were mainly CTOs with very little used examples and practically no mint stamps. At that stage, I didn't bother so much and I always look for more stamps mainly because of their stunning beauties, colours and variations. As I began collecting stamps more seriously, I realised that collecting CTOs is not the best way forward, I became less satisfied and the thrill is disappearing. For instance, you could complete your CTO collection on 1894 issues in less than a week for a mere US$15-30.
I also realised that from the value perspective, CTO stamps probably won't appreciate over time but mint stamps and postally used stamps do. In other words, you can overspend on collecting CTO stamps of North Borneo now but in the future your collection might be simply sold for a song! The alternative is to collect used and mint stamps of a particular period slowly, and in the process, you will inevitably also collect CTOs. For example, most stamps lot offered in ebay nowadays mix the postally used stamps with CTOs, so if you collect the used stamps, you will also collect the CTOs at a much reduced price compared to buying CTOs alone.
But of course CTOs are great for reference and space-fillers. I have a lot of those in my collection too especially on the rare stamps. So they are without doubt serve a lot of practical purposes in many ways.
Because in early collecting days, people used hinges in their albums, unfortunately, finding old stamps unhinged from that period is regrettably very difficult. Stamps with a fresh condition "like fresh from post office" are even more scarce, although you can still find good quality mint stamps at reasonable prices. As for the 1894 issue, almost all used and especially the CTOs are hinged. Some mint stamps may be unhinged but can be a bit pricey.
And finally, depending on the bulk of stamps, you would expect to spend from as little as US$5 to US$40. They rarely go beyond this unless if the lot contains some rare used stamps or high value stamps with CTOs (eg. $5 or $10).

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