A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar


A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Labuan and the Victoria Forgeries

1900 Scott 97 4c carmine & black "Orangutan"
Overprinted, On stamp designs of North Borneo
Quick History
So how did Labuan have such interesting stamps? And where is Labuan? (Extra credit if you already know ;-)  And what about those Queen Victoria 1894 issue lithographic forgeries? And why, despite the very attractive designs, are Labuan stamps so inexpensive "used"? Read on...
The South China Sea Region
The small island of Labuan is labeled  just above Brunei
Labuan, meaning "Harbor" in Malay, is a small island, about 35 square miles in area, 5 miles off the north-west coast of Borneo, facing the South China Sea.
Map of Labuan and North Borneo
Labuan was originally part of the Sultanate of Brunei. But the British wanted to set up a base to combat piracy in the area, and the island was ceded to them. The island became a Crown Colony in 1848, and James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, was appointed Governor.
Labuan subsequently became a coaling station for the South China Seas trade.
Labuan was then administered by the British North Borneo Company, beginning in 1890. The Company had already administered the North Borneo Colony, on a charter grant from the British Government, since 1881.
Direct British government rule was resumed in 1904, and in 1906, the territory became part of the Straits Settlements

The population during the classical era of Labuan was 9,000, and the Capital was Victoria.

Subsequently, Labuan was occupied by the Japanese during WW II (called Maida Island). The Straits Settlements generally- including Labuan- were liberated in 1945, and then were under British military administration until 1946, when British North Borneo was established.

In 1963, the State of Sabah ,which included Labuan, became part of Malaysia.

In 1990, Labuan was declared an international financial center and  free trade zone.

Stamps were produced for Labuan between 1879-1905, although stamps of the Straits Settlements had been postmarked there since 1867. The 1879-1894 era had the image of Queen Victoria, while the 1894-1901 stamps had images of North Borneo stamps, but printed in different colors, and  overprinted 'Labuan". In 1902, a set of Labuan Colony only stamps were issued with a "Crown" image. 

So where did the cheap supply of "used" Labuan stamps come from? Sometime during the late period of the British North Borneo Company administration of Labuan (1890-1906), almost all of the postal issues were cancelled to order (C.T.O.) with an oval bar cancellation. These stamps are still usually CV <$1. ;-)
1895 Scott 55 12c orange & black "Saltwater Crocodile"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specilized catalogue has, from 1879-1905, 135 major stamp descriptions for regular and postage due categories. Of those, 57 are CV <$1-$1+ ( 42%). Clearly, because of the C.T.O.'s, a nice selection may be had for little outlay by the classical collector.

Of interest, Scott also catalogues separately listed  bolded minor numbers, some 126  descriptions. These are all perforation variants. One will need to pay attention to perforations on Labuan stamps if one wants to separate the major and minor number types.

One other word: Forgeries.

As we will see in the next section, the 1894 lithographic Victorian issue is rife with counterfeits.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 cents = 1 Dollar
1880-82 Scott 5 2c green "Queen Victoria"
Engraved, wmk 1 "Crown & C C"
Inscribed in English, Arabic, and Chinese
All of the Queen Victoria stamps for 1879-1894 have this striking design, with inscriptions in three languages as illustrated. All also have perforation 14.

The earlier engraved Victoria design issues (1879-1881), some 32 stamps, are found with British Colonial watermark 1 or 2 ( "C A over Crown") watermark. Some are found surcharged. Most are fairly expensive. But I have this example illustrated above. ;-)
1892 Scott 37 12c deep ultramarine
Engraved, unwatermarked
But the engraved 1892 Victorian issue- seven stamps- has a reasonable CV of $4+-$35+, and is unwatermarked. The 12c deep ultramarine is illustrated above. Note the fine exquisite engraved details. Also note the different color of the portrait? I've noticed this with several of the stamps in my collection. The explanation must be that two printings (frame and portrait) were done for this issue, and the colors always didn't match?

What happened then to the 1894 issue - the last Victorian issue? Take a look...
Queen Victoria Issue 1894
Lithographed, Unwatermarked
The seven stamp 1894 issue was lithographed. This generally gives a rougher impression, compared to the preceding engraved specimens. And the paper was unwatermarked.

CV is <$1 for all seven stamps, as this issue is also part of the C.T.O. output.

A recipe for counterfeiters? You bet!

We will now explore the differences between the genuine copies and the two better known forgeries. ( There is also a third forgery by Kamigata in Tokyo. The forgery is crude and has perforation 11 1/2. The genuine stamp and the other forgeries are perforation 14.)

And the forgeries usually have the oval bar cancellation seen also with the genuine C.T.O. specimens.

I am again indebted to the "Focus on Forgeries" book by Varro Tyler for the information here. Varro Tyler discusses two forgeries: The "Excellent" forgery,and the possibly "Fournier" forgery. So I will describe them by his terms here.
Genuine: 1892 2c rose engraved
Genuine: 1894 2c bright rose lithographed
One will note at the outset the much rougher appearance of the lithographic specimen. The printing is thicker. Much less fine detail on the portrait as the lines run together. But otherwise, the genuine issues are similar in overall design.

Pay particular attention to these areas...
Black arrow- the lowest hanging lock of hair is attached to the hair on both ends-specifically the right side. (Important).
Green arrow- Eyes and level of crudeness.
Red arrow- Mouth, shape, and level of crudeness.
Blue arrow-the shape of the ear line.
Yellow arrow- the extent of the horizontal lines along the back of the neck.

Let's take a closer look at the genuine lithographic stamp and the two forgeries.....
1894 10c brown, lithographed, genuine
Black arrow- the lowest hanging lock of hair is attached to the hair on both ends-specifically the right side.
Green arrow- Eye area is acceptable for a lithographic print. (The forgeries often will appear cruder here.)
Red arrow- Mouth has a downward shape, but not as large, crude, or smudge-like as the forgeries.
Blue arrow-the ear line has  a smooth fishing hook shape.
Yellow arrow- the horizontal lines along the back of the neck are regular and thick.
1894 "Scott 12c light ultramarine"
"Excellent" Forgery
The "Excellent" forgery truly is excellent, and does not show as many differences as the "Fournier" forgery.

Specifically...
Black arrow- the lowest hanging lock of hair is attached to the hair above only on the left side. It is not attached on the right side by the ear. (Diagnostic for both forgeries.)
Green arrow- Eye area is somewhat cruder.
Red arrow- Mouth is more smudge-like, has a downward shape, and a bit thicker.
Blue arrow-the ear line has has a double comma shape.
Yellow arrow- the horizontal lines along the back of the neck are thick and crude.

(Note: Although I assumed the forgeries were also lithographed, on re-examination they could be typographed. Typhographed stamps can have very uneven frame lines specifically with little smudges noted. Lithographic stamps less so.)
1894 "Scott 48 40c orange
"Fournier" Forgery
Black arrow- the lowest hanging lock of hair is attached to the hair above only on the left side. It is not attached on the right side by the ear. (Diagnostic for both forgeries.)
Green arrow- Eye area is somewhat cruder.
Red arrow- Mouth is more smudge-like, has a downward shape, and is thicker. This sign is generally more prominent with the Fournier forgery.
Blue arrow-the ear line has has a double comma shape.
Yellow arrow- the horizontal lines are thinner, and do not extend as far as in the genuine specimen or "Excellent" forgery. This is a helpful sign for the 'Fournier" forgery.

Let's now compare/contrast.....
(One may one to enlarge the image for closer inspection.)
Genuine: Scott 43 6c yellow green, lithographed
"Fournier" forgery: See arrows
Compared to the Genuine...
Black arrow- the lowest hanging lock of hair is attached to the hair above only on the left side. It is not attached on the right side by the ear.
Green arrow- Eye area is  cruder.
Red arrow- Mouth is more smudge-like, with a prominent downward slash.
Blue arrow-the ear line has has a double comma shape.
Yellow arrow- the horizontal lines are thinner.
Genuine: Scott 44 8c bright violet, lithographed
"Fournier" forgery: See arrows
Compared to the Genuine...
Black arrow- the lowest hanging lock of hair is attached to the hair above only on the left side. It is not attached on the right side by the ear.
Green arrow- Eye area is cruder.
Red arrow- Mouth is more smudge-like, with a prominent downward slash.
Blue arrow-the ear line has has a double comma shape.
Yellow arrow- the horizontal lines are thinner.
Genuine: Scott 12c light ultramarine, lithographed
"Excellent" forgery: See arrows
Compared to the Genuine...

Black arrow- the lowest hanging lock of hair is attached to the hair above only on the left side. It is not attached on the right side by the ear.
Green arrow- Eye area is  cruder.
Red arrow- Mouth is more smudge-like, has a downward shape, and a bit thicker.In contrast, the "Fournier" forgery often has a more prominent downward slash.
Blue arrow-the ear line has has a double comma shape.
Yellow arrow- the horizontal lines along the back of the neck are thick and crude. In contrast, the "Fournier" forgery will have thinner lines here.

Admittedly, the differences between the "Excellent" and "Fournier" forgeries are somewhat subtle, and perhaps not really that important. The necessary thing is to be able to differentiate a genuine specimen from a forgery.
Genuine: Scott 47 15c gray, lithographed
"Excellent" forgery: See arrows
"Fournier" forgery: See arrows
For the Grand finale, I have the 15c gray genuine and both forgeries to compare/contrast.

Compared to the Genuine...

Black arrow- the lowest hanging lock of hair is attached to the hair above only on the left side. It is not attached on the right side by the ear.
Green arrow- Eye area is  cruder.
Red arrow- Mouth is more smudge-like, has a downward shape, and a bit thicker. Note the "Fournier" forgery has a more prominent downward slash.
Blue arrow-the ear line has has a double comma shape.
Yellow arrow- the horizontal lines along the back of the neck are thick on the "Excellent" forgery. In contrast, the "Fournier" forgery has thinner lines that do not extend as far.

This is the end of the Victoria forgeries section. One may want to check one's own collection for these common forgeries.
1894 Scott 49 1c lilac & black "Dyak Chieftain"
The British North Borneo company, which administered North Borneo and Labuan during this time period, clearly had an eye for strikingly designed engraved stamps. They would produce a stamp for North Borneo, and then overprint, and issue the stamp for Labuan  in a different color.

Here, the 1c lilac & black for Labuan (illustrated) can be found as the 1c bister brown & black for North Borneo.

The 1894 Labuan issue had nine stamps, each with a striking design. CV is <$1 for each, as they are part of the C.T.O output.

These bi-colors with their pictorial images must have been a refreshing change from the severe and dull Victorians of the day.
1894 Scott 53 6c brown red & black
"Arms of North Borneo"
The corresponding stamp for North Borneo was brown olive & black. I would think the coffers of the British North Borneo Company were overflowing from stamp collectors money.
1895 Scott 61 30c on $1 red
The surcharge was applied to a 1886 British North Borneo issue. For Labuan, the overprint was added. This four stamp overprinted/surcharged set has a CV of <$1 for each stamp.
1897-1900 Scott 73 2c blue & black
"Malayan Sambar"
In 1897, a set similar, but different in frame design, was issued. Note the Arabic and Chinese script. This 12 stamp issue has a CV of <$1-$1+. The issue has Perf 14 1/2-15 mostly as the major numbers, with a few @ 13 1/2-14 Perf. There are additionally bolded minor numbers with various perforations for this issue in Scott.
1897 Scott 76 5c green & black "Argus Pheasant"
1900 Scott 77 5c light blue & black
Two colors are found for the "Argus Pheasant" Labuan 5c stamp. The North Borneo stamp is found in orange red & black.
1897-1900 Scott 82 24c gray lilac & black
"Coat of arms"
The Latin "Pergo Et Perago" translates to "I undertake and I achieve". This stamp is found in claret & blue for North Borneo. 
1898 Scott 85 12c red & black "Saltwater Crocodile"
I wonder at the turn of the century if these stamps began to inspire collectors to collect topically?

Note the 'Postage & Revenue" inscription? The earlier 1897 Scott 80 is identical, save for the "Postal Revenue" inscription.
1897 Scott 81 18c olive bister & black "Mt Kinabulu"
1898 Scott 86 18c bister & black
Illustrated is the "Mt Kinabulu" stamp design for the 1897, and then a 1898 issue. Note the 1898 issue has 'Postage & Revenue" (yellow arrow), while the 1897 stamp has "Postal Revenue".
1899 Scott 93 4c on 25c blue green
Regular issue surcharged in black
In 1899, a group of regular issues ( 9 stamps) were surcharged as above. CV is a rather expensive $7-$40. Be aware that there are a number of perforation varieties that have higher CV minor numbers. Consult Scott for details.
1899 Scott 96 4c yellow brown & black "Orangutan"
Wow! What's not to like about this stamp? It also was issued in carmine & black in 1900, already shown at the post header. And if one wants more, North Borneo issued the design in green & black and deep rose & black. ;-)
1901 Scott 98 10c gray violet & dark brown "Sun Bear"
Also issued during this time period is the "Sun Bear" stamp. This is actually my favorite. ;-)
1901 Scott 99 16c orange brown & green "Railroad train"
Overprinted in green
And if one wished to start a topical train stamp collection, Labuan has this stamp for consideration. All in all, a most interesting series of stamp issues.

If one would like more, North Borneo continued to issue pictorial stamps like these through 1939.
1902-03 Scott 107 25c greenish blue & green "Crown"
Major numbers have Perf 13 1/2-14
Then in 1902-03 the Labuan Colony had their very own issued design with a "Crown" vignette. This issue had 12 stamps with a CV of <$1-$1+. These stamps are also found with minor number perforations, and with a line through the 'B" of "Labuan".
Postage Due 1901  Scott J2a 3c bister & black "Sago Palm"
Perforation Compound 12-13
Labuan issued a nine stamp Postage Due set in 1901. CV is <$1-$6+. The set consisted of regular issues that were overprinted as illustrated.

The postage dues also come in various perforations with minor Scott numbers.

Deep Blue
The 1902-03 Labuan Colony "Crown" set in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has nine pages for all the major numbers in Scott. That is not quite enough though. ;-) I needed an extra quadrilled page for the 1894 lithographic Victoria forgeries in my collection. 

And recall that Scott lists 126 stamps with minor numbers (for perforation differences) that are given a separate bolded entry in the catalogue? None of these are given a space in the Steiner. One will need extra quadrilled pages, or otherwise populate the original pages with extra mounted (minor number) stamps.
1897 Scott 79 8c red & black "Dhow"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two pages ( although the second page has two lines for Lagos), has spaces for 59 stamps. Coverage is 44%.

Observations
• The Victoria engraved issues are generally rather expensive, so BB needn't provide spaces for those. But BB specifies the 8c violet color (Scott 35/engraved/CV $7+), rather than the lithographic Scott 8c bright violet (CV <$1). Conversely, BB doesn't provide denomination spaces for the lithographic Scott 46-48, all with CV <$1.
• The 1896 "Jubilee" overprinted set (6 stamps- CV $1)  are not given a space.
• BB does a good job of covering the inexpensive pictorials of 1894-1901.
• The 1904 set, all with surcharged "4 cents" on stamps of 1896-97 ARE given a space. Seven stamp spaces (Scott 110-116) then are CV $10+.
• Naturally, there is no additional space for the many (126) stamps with minor number perforations. One may need to add an extra page if one has a number of these stamps.

Checklist
1879-94*
1 or 5 or 16 or 33 or 42,
34 or 43, 35*, (36 or 45),

1894
49,50,51,
522,53,54,55,56,57,

1895
58,59,(60),

1896
63,64,65,

1897
72A or 72, 73,75,76,78,79,
80,81*,82*,

1898
85, 86 or 86a*,

1899-1900
96,74,,97,77,

1901
98,99,

Next Page

1902-03
99A,100,100A,101,102,103,
104,105,106,(107),

1899-1904 (actually 1904)
110,111,

1899-1904 (actually 1904)
112,113,114,115,116,

Postage Due
1901
J1,J2,J3,J4,J5,J6,

End

Comments
A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1904 Scott 110 4c on 5c green & black ($10+)
1904 Scott 111 4c on 6c brown red & black ($10+)
1904 Scott 112 4c on 8c red & black ($10+)
1904 Scott 113 4c on 12c red & black ($10+)
1904 Scott 114 4c on 18c bister & black ($10+)
1904 Scott 115  4c on 24c brown lilac & black ($10+)
1904 Scott 116 4c on 25c blue green ($10)
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1879-94- BB combines the engraved and lithographic Victoria issues into one space. For the 2c denomination, there is a choice of a 2c engraved green ( Scott 1,5,16), or engraved 2c rose (Scott 33), or lithographed 2c bright rose (Scott 42).
D) *35 is 8c violet/engraved (CV $7+). The dark violet (Scott 19) or the lithographic bright violet (Scott 44 CV <$1) are technically excluded because of color criteria.
E) *81,*82 because of illustration criteria- excluded are 83 and 84 which have "Postage & Revenue" inscribed.
F) *86 or 86a: 86a (CV $3+), a minor number, is much cheaper than 86 (CV $70+).
Out of the Blue
Between the challenges of the genuine/forgery lithographed Victoria issues and the many superbly designed pictorial stamps, I found myself in Seventh Heaven.  ;-)

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Comments?

9 comments:

  1. Fascinating write-up... I've had a pouch of Labuan (CTO) stamps waiting to get sorted for nearly 2 years. Maybe it's time I got it under work this summer, LOL.

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  2. Keijo-

    That would be a relaxing project for one of those long Finnish summer evenings! ;-)

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  3. Not need to be a philatelist, every body who has read "Sandokan" knows where Labuan is, and James Brooke. =)
    Great post!

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  4. Thanks Pablo! Appreciated, especially coming from a veteran stamp blogger since 2008!

    Sandokan, the Pirate, and "Tiger of Malaysia", an adventure series published between 1883-1913 is unfortunately not much read now- at least in the U.S.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandokan

    I asked my wife if she knew where Labuan is located: She didn't. ;-)

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  5. This is a wonderful post. Congratulations!

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  6. Thanks Max!

    And your Romanian Stamp News blog is good indeed!

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  7. beautiful stamps. I am not a collector myself anymore (I used to be) but I still appreciate informative posts and nice design! These Labuan pictorials seem to be a Waterlow & Sons creation.. I may be wrong, but by then only W&S used to produce such beautiful colonial stamps with such great accuracy in printing and designing

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  8. Replies
    1. Your North Borneo blog is worth a read also! Thanks you!

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