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. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

North Borneo Part 1

1902 Scott 120 10c slate & dark brown "Sun Bear"
Quick History
North Borneo, famous for the stunning stamp pictorials during the classical era, was located in the northeastern part of Borneo. The chief towns were Sandakan and Jesselton, and the population was 270,000 in 1931.

Having obtained sovereign and territorial rights in 1882 from the sultan of Brunei, the North Borneo Chartered Company administered the lands, while Great Britain, in 1888, controlled the defense and foreign relations as a "protectorate". The colony of Labuan was also placed under the administration of North Borneo from 1890-1905.
The State of North Borneo
1939 Scott 213 8c red
The North Borneo Chartered Company was in power until 1942, when Japanese forces occupied North Borneo. Liberated by the Australians in 1945, the territory became the Crown Colony of British North Borneo from 1946-1963. Granted self-government in 1963, the (now known as) State of Sabah united with Malaya, Sarawak, and Singapore to form the Federation of Malaysia.

1894 Scott 65 12c ultramarine & black
"Saltwater Crocodile"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for North Borneo 1883-1950, 21 major stamps for 1883-86 North Borneo, 238 regular major stamps for 1886-1950 North Borneo, 47 major Semi-postal stamps, 54 Postage dues, 2 War tax, and 47 Japanese occupation stamps. Total = 409 major descriptive numbers. As North Borneo stamps (1883-1886; 21 stamps), and the occupation issues (1942-44; 47 stamps) are expensive, and rather expensive respectively, I will not cover them here. That leaves 341 stamps. Of those, 157 are CV <$1-$1+, or 46%.  Most of North Borneo's stamps through 1912 were CTO with an oval of bars, and therefore are affordable. Almost all of the used examples on this blog have this cancellation.

As there are many lovely pictorials for North Borneo, I have elected to spread the coverage over two blog posts. This post will discuss the regular issues through 1928. The next post will cover the rest of the regular issues, as well as BOB issues.

A closer look at the the stamps and issues
100 Cents = 1 Dollar
1886 Scott 27 2c brown, Perf 12
 "Coat of Arms"
The British North Borneo Company administered Borneo under an 1881 charter, and "Coat of Arms" stamps were produced beginning in 1883. Initially "North Borneo" script was used, and these stamps are rather expensive.

But the 1886 "British North Borneo" and "Postage" script stamps are CV $3+- $10+ for the Perf 14 six stamp lower denominations. Shown here is the 2c brown. Note the CTO oval bars cancellation.

1887 Scott 35a 1/2 c magenta, Perf 14
The 1887-92 Perf 14 nine stamp issue with "Postage & Revenue" script is quite inexpensive (CV <$1-$1). Unfortunately, several types of forgeries abound. Varro Tyler, in his book "Focus on Forgeries", illustrates a genuine 1/2c, which is shown here. Note the red arrows. One points to the upper right Chinese character, which is not connected at right. The other points out a faint dot between "1/2" and "cent". These are the signs of a genuine 1/2c rose stamp.

"1887 Scott 35 1/2c rose"
Forgery A
One type of forgery (Forgery A) in my collection is shown above. Note the 1/2c rose Chinese character is different. There is also no faint dot. The perf, though, here measures 14, as in the genuine. And the forgery overall is rather finely done.
"1887 Scott 35 1/2c rose"
Forgery B
Another type (Forgery B), much cruder, is found both imperforate and perforate. The Lion's midsection is missing definition, as well as the "genuine" signs are missing.

"1887 Scott 42 8c green"
Forgery B, Perf 11 1/2
Scott mentions that forgeries can be found with perf 11 1/2 (compared to 14 in the genuine), and here is an example with Forgery B.

I have many examples of these forgeries in my collection (especially Forgery B in all denominations), and I suspect you might also.
1888 Scott 45 50c violet 
"Coat of Arms with Supporters"
In 1888, four of the higher denomination stamps from the 1886 issue were redrawn. Here, the club of the native on the left does not touch the frame.

You probably noticed by now the Arabic and Chinese script on the early stamps of North Borneo.

1892 Scott 57 1c on 5c slate
Nine stamps were surcharged between 1890-92. Some surcharges are quite expensive ( CV $4000+!), but the 1c on 5c slate shown here is CV $6+.

1894 Scott 60 2c rose & black "Malayan Sambar"
Beginning in 1894, the stamps of North Borneo began their fantastic issuance of colorful pictorials. The 1894 issue had 15 stamps, with 12 stamps CV <$1-$3. If the images seem familiar, they are. Labuan has similar stamps, except in different colors and overprinted.

Note the script has changed to the "State of North Borneo".

Range of Malayan Sambar Deer
The Malayan Sambar is found throughout southern Asia. It is the favorite prey of the Bengal tiger.

1897 Scott 85 8c brown lilac & black
"Malay Dhow"
The 1897-1900 issue had 10 stamps, and were all bi-colors. They are inexpensive.

Reality check: North Borneo between 1894 and 1904 issued over sixty stamps. John Apfelbaum states in his blog that there was a literate population of only several hundred in the country at the time. I don't think I need to point out the obvious reason they did this.

1897 Scott 87 18c green & black "Mt. Kinabalu"
"Postal Revenue" Type
1897 Scott 89 18c green & black
"Postage & Revenue' Type
Two additional stamps issued in 1897 differ in a minor way with the preceding issue. Note the differences above for the 18c green & black.

And, in a general way, one has to carefully examine the pictorials of North Borneo, as they may differ from other pictorial issues of North Borneo in not always obvious ways.

1899 Scott 103 4c green & black "Orangutan"
In 1899 and 1900, two stamps (green & black, deep rose & black) respectively were issued with an image of an orangutan. They are native to the region, and are still found in the rainforests of Borneo.

1901-05 Scott 107 3c lilac & olive green "Sago Palm"
Stamps of 1884-1900 overprinted
Between 1901-05, 15 stamps of 1894-1900 were overprinted in red, black. green, or blue.

The Sago Palm provides a starch, a sago flour used in puddings and noodles.

1909 Scott 142 6c olive green, Perf 14 
"Sumatran Rhinoceros"
The 14 stamp 1909-22 issue has a CV  <$1-$1+.

The Sumatran Rhinoceros is one of five species of Rhinoceros, and it's status today is "critically endangered". There may be only 200 animals left on the planet. They are poached for their horns.

1926-28 Scott 167 1c chocolate , Perf 12 1/2
"Malayan Tapir"
Between 1926-28, eighteen stamps of the "1909-22 issue type" were produced. This issue has perf 12 1/2, and some stamps are in a different color. Ten stamps are CV <$1-$3+.

The Malayan Tapir eats vegetation exclusively, is mostly nocturnal, yet has poor eyesight.

Distribution of Malayan Tapir
Although Tapirs were reported in North Borneo (1929), today they inhabit Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. 
1926-28 Scott 174 10c bright blue, Perf 12 1/2
"Wild Boar"
The "Wild Boar" used to inhabit much of Eurasia.

Historical Wild Boar Range (green)
One will note it has been introduced (blue) into Australia and the United States. It appears, based on the map, that the "Wild Boar" actually was not found in North Borneo. ;-)

To be continued....

Deep Blue
1894 issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 26 pages for North Borneo, and has spaces for all the major numbers. The "classical" Steiner North Borneo pages though, do not have the Japanese occupation issues. One will need to go to the general  Steiner "World" pages to retrieve them. Since I do not have any of the occupation stamps, it is a moot point for me. 

1907 Scott 83 5c orange & black "Argus Pheasant"
Big Blue
The '69 Big Blue, on four pages, has 127 spaces for 1886-1939 in the regular, semi-postal, and postage due categories. Subtracting the 52 regular category stamps issued between 1945-50, leaves 289 major descriptive stamps in total for the categories found in BB. Coverage, then, is 44%.

* Only two spaces require stamps with CV of $10 or greater. None are @ $CV 35 or greater.
* BB's coverage is "Good.", but I did find 17 stamps with CV <$1-$1+ not in BB.
* A problem is what to do with the 1926-28 Scott 167-175+, the "Types of 1909-22 issue" stamps. All, save one, are CV <$1, and, based on date criteria, there is no room in BB for them. The 1926-28 issue is Perf 12 1/2, while the 1909-22 issue is Perf 14. The 1926-28 issue does have some stamps with color changes compared to the 1909-22 issue, but others are identical. I suppose if one wants to admit the 1926-28 issue into the spaces, it is not the worst thing, but I didn't put them into the checklist. ;-)


22 or 25, 23 or 26, 27,28,



1893 (Actually 1894)



Next Page








Next Page

1909 (to 1922)*
136, 138 or 139, 140,141,143,





Next Page

Postage Due



Semi-Postal stamps


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1931 Scott 189 25c deep violet ($20+)
1939 Scott 203 25c dark brown & blue green ($10)
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice
C) *1909-22- Be aware that the identical 1926-28 issue (Save for color changes in some stamps, and a different perf) is not in the checklist. See "Observations" discussion.

1909 Scott 149 24c violet "Cassowary"
Out of the Blue
North Borneo stamps have been popular with stamp collectors since they were issued.

Who am I to argue?  

Comments appreciated


  1. I am now going back and looking at some older posts for the first time. I must say, North Borneo has some really neat stamps!