Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Saturday, December 16, 2017

North Borneo State – where I torture a bit of history & show a few stamps

 Ready for a history lesson? Buckle up, this one gets confusing at times.

Some of the world’s beautiful stamps came from the State of North Borneo. The little parcel of land (abt 31,106 North Borneo Map 1888 The Map House, London Public Domainsq.m) was given as a gift, leased, abandoned, flipped, invaded and conquered at a dizzying rate in the span of about 200 odd years. It belonged to the Sultan of Brunei, but was leased to Great Britain as a reward for aiding the Sultan in a civil war. For a few years, the British tried to settle the land, built a port, imported labour etc. By 1805 it was viewed as a white elephant - too expensive to administer and too difficult to fend off the numerous pirate attacks so the British abandoned the lease and left. 60 years later, the Americans took out a lease on the land but quickly sold the lease off. Post-Civil War United States had no appetite for Asian territories and auctioned off the lease to the American Trading Company of Borneo.

Their effort was equally short lived. Disease, expenses, deaths and difficulty keeping labour on the land forced the company to abandon the territory within a year. They hung onto the lease for 10 years and flipped it to Consul of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Hong Kong, Baron Gustav von Overbeck who then negotiated a new 10 year lease with the Sultan of Brunei. Despite his best efforts, von Overbeck couldn’t interest the Austro-Hungarian government in investing time, men and money on the land. He was saddled with a costly lease no one wanted. Overbeck tried to sell the lease off to the Italians as an Italian version of Devil’s Island, but the Italian government didn’t see a need for a penal colony so far afield.

Read more: North Borneo State – where I torture a bit of history & show a few stamps

Rocket mail – the attempt to ship postage via an explosive packed tube with mixed results

Rocket mail

Over the years, attempts at using new technology to deliver messages has been tried. There’s nothing new about co-opting technology to improve the speed and efficiency of communications. Mail is no different. Everything from pigeon post, pneumatic tubes, rockets and cats have been tried.

Interesting early attempts at rocket mail were conducted by Germans Reinhold Tilingand Gerhard Zucker in the late 1920s and early 30s, with mixed success. There’s something awe inspiring about the thought of tucking thousands of letter into a missile packed with explosives and booming them across the air. Tiling had some success, but died in ’33 after an explosion in his lab, leaving Zucker as the pre-eminant European engineer advocating the use of rocket.

Read more: Rocket mail – the attempt to ship postage via an explosive packed tube with mixed results

George V St Helena Stamp Colony Badge – Cleft Rock Flaw

George V St Helena Colony Badge
Scotts # 79 doesn’t list flaws
SG # SG 97c

St Helena is a tiny speck in the Pacific Ocean, best known for it’s infamous exile, Napoleon. It’s also home to some beautiful stamps.

The particular issue today is the St. Helena Colony Badge series from 1922-1937.   The badge shows a 3 masted ship sailing by two rocks. The stamps were printed on both chalk-surface and regular paper with two different watermarks – either Multiple Crown CA or Multiple Script Ca. These lovelies were designed by Mr. T. Bruce. I’ve tried to find information on the mysterious T. Bruce, but so far I’ve dead ended. I think it’ll take a long trip to the library to source the information.

Read more: George V St Helena Stamp Colony Badge – Cleft Rock Flaw

Soruth 1868 - two stamps from a Princely State


Indian Philately - Looking at one of the Princely States

Here are a couple of lovelies - Soruth 1868. I aquired them about a year ago at auction. Soruth (or Sorath, Junagadh, and Saurashtra ) was a small Princely State in Gujarat until 1947 when it became part of the state of Saurashtra and then part of Bombay State.

Read more: Soruth 1868 - two stamps from a Princely State

Canadian Small Queens - ink variations

Small Queens

Canadian Small Queens - looking at ink variations

While doing research on the Small Queens awhile ago, I ran into a couple of articles that listed what inks were used for the Small Queens. Problem is, for the life of me, I can't remember which book. I suspect it was POSTAGE STAMPS AND POSTAL HISTORY OF CANADA by Winthrop Boggs. At any rate, what's  fascinating is the fact the inks were hand mixed for each run. Printers had their own recipes, which explains the wide variety of colour variations in the early stamps. The Small Queens are a bonanza for stamp collectors. You can get some pretty good colour charts, but if you're like me, they still don't help a lot. I struggle with the different and often subtle variations in colours, plus trying to decide if it's a changeling or a genuine rare colour. You'd think that someone who's collected as long as I have would whistle through colour identification, but nope, not so. It's both maddening and fun. More often than not, my rare colour is actually a changeling.

Read more: Canadian Small Queens - ink variations

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And here I sit with my stamps in a complete muddle, and nobody has bothered to tell me what it's all about."
"Listen now, Hemul," said Snufkin slowly and clearly. "It's about a comet that is going to collide with the earth tomorrow."
"Collide?" said the Hemulen. "Has that anything to do with stamp-collecting?”

- Tove Jansson, Comet in Moominland   

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