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...

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Malaya - Bud's Big Blue

Malaya #31c
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Malaya’s stamps are mainly about cats and hats.

Many kinds of cats, very big cats, live in Malaya (now Malaysia) -- tigers, leopards, black panthers, Malayan Siamese cats and several rarer species. Of these, only the tiger appears on stamps. It’s a national symbol, and endangered -- fewer than 3900 of them left in all of Asia.

Not being endangered, hats are more prolific on stamps and in Malaya’s marketplaces.
For classical era Malaya, British stamp designers favored the likenesses of elaborately behatted sultans. By comparison, British royalty usually appear unhatted on colonial stamps with their crowns floating in the empyrean (India’s stamps being an exception). Malayan chiefs rarely show up without hats or, more properly, headdresses, since some of them are intricately folded cloths called tengkoloks and some are Islamic-inspired songkok caps. Tengkoloks commonly represent coffee leaves or flower fragments wrapped in such a way as to hide sultans’ secrets.

Malaya male headgear

Sultan Ismail wins the prize for the most preposterous hat on a stamp (Kelantan #38). “The hat makes the man.”

Not a chef’s hat. Kelantan Sc #38

Sultans’ headdresses, arrayed in the album pages scanned below, come in many varieties. I’ll trace out those worn by only one sultan -- Ibrahim Iskandar Al-Masyhur ibni Abu Bakar -- aka, in stamp catalogs, as Sultan Ibrahim of Johore. Born in 1873, he died in 1959 in London where he preferred to live. He ruled Johor for 64 years and, in the process, developed a wild playboy reputation. His philatelic debut came with the 1896-99 series issued on the occasion of his ascendancy, then, eight years later, a second series featured a somewhat plumper Sultan sans moustache. 

Sultan Ibrahim, Johore Sc #37

For both sittings, the Sultan wore a black velvet songkok with a silver plumed aigrette which, along with a chest full of medals, denoted his office. The songkok looks rather like an Ottoman fez, and may have been introduced by Turkish sailors in the 19th century. Or, as local lore suggests, it may trace back to the 13th century when Islam came to Malaya.

Sultan Ibrahim, Johore Sc #67

The photo showing below may have inspired the artist’s line drawing for Sc #67.

Sultan Ibrahim photo, circa 1904

In 1935 a single Johore stamp was issued showing the Sultan, surprisingly, without headgear. He appears with his third wife, the Scottish born Helen Ibrahim, nee Wilson. The stamp and a diamond were wedding anniversary gifts for Her Highness, the Sultanah. They divorced three years later. This and another Johore stamp issued in 1940 (Sc # 127) show the only bare-headed sovereign ever to appear on Malayan postage, except, of course, for British royalty on 1940s and 50s stamps (and the cats).

Johore, Sc #126

Returning to a hat but leaving his songkok aside, a bespectacled Sultan dons a military beret for the 1949-55 series. On these stamps, medals are comparatively understated

Johore Sc #s 131,135

And, near the end of his long tenure, he wears a western-style bus driver’s hat and medals similar to if not identical with the ones he wore in 1896. 

Johore Sc #156

Through it all, the other Malayan sultans continued to wear traditional headgear.

Cat and hat together, 1957
Dr. Seuss would approve

Census: in BB spaces (column a), tip-in (column b), on supplement pages (column c)

(a)        (b)        (c)
Malaya-Fed. States     44        0          13       
Johore                         41        0          16
Kedah                         24        1          9
Kelantan                      31        0          4
Negri Sembilan           15        0          7
Pahang                        13        0          1         
Perak                           37        0          11                   
Selangor                      21        0          8
Sungei Ujong             6          0          0
Trengganu                   25        0          13

Jim's Observations
The Malay Peninsula has been under British colonial and protectorate influence since Singapore became a crown colony in 1824. The Straits Settlements colony, consisting of Singapore, Malacca, and Penang, was formed in 1826. The rest of the Peninsula consisted of the sultanate led Malay States, under the administration and protection of the British. The blog post (link below) examines the stamps issued by the Malay States from 1876-1955.

Malaya & States Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Ceylon 1935-1947 - a closer look

1936 Scott 267 9c orange red & olive green
"Picking Tea"
Into the Deep Blue
Classic British Empire stamps, on the whole, tend to be rather predictable (read boring?), with their ubiquitous  head shots of the British monarch.

Not that a particular colony, such as Ceylon, don't have interesting issues, as demonstrated by these previous blog posts....

Ceylon 1861-1900 Victorian Era
Ceylon 1903-1935

But, then Ceylon issued the well designed 1935-36 George V engraved pictorials, and then continued with the 1938-52 George VI engraved pictorials.  Is this the classical design "golden era"?. Let's take a look....

1935-1947: a closer look
100 Cents = 1 Rupee
1935 Scott 264 2c carmine rose & black
"Tapping Rubber"
The 1935-36 eleven stamp eleven design issue features local Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) scenes. Here, "Tapping Rubber"...

The economy of the 19th and 20th century included production and exportation of natural rubber from rubber tree plantations.

It all began in 1876 with the planting of 2,000 rubber seedlings in the Henerathgoda Botanical Gardens. The natural rubber industry grew to become the third largest export earner, and Sri Lanka still ranks sixth in the world in terms of production.

1936 Scott 266 6c blue & black
"Colombo Harbor"
The issue was released between 1935 and 1936: 5/1/35 - 2c, 15c, 25c; 6/1/35 - 10c; 7/1/35 - 1r; 8/1/35 - 30c; 19/1/35 - 3c; 1/1/36 - 6c, 9c, 20c, 50c.

Colombo Harbor - 1914 Postcard
The ship traffic for Ceylon went mainly through Columbo Harbor.

Map of Columbo -1914
Columbo today is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.

1936 Scott 270 20c ultramarine & black
"Coconut Palms"
Of interest, the 1935-36 "George V" pictorial issue was printed by two British stamp firms: De la Rue for the 2c, 3c, 20c (the one illustrated above), & the 50c; The rest were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson. 

1935 Scott 268 10c dark violet & black
"Rice Terraces"
The classical bi-color design has stood the test of time. The engraving process means the detail is exquisite. Go ahead, click on the image, enlarge, and enjoy!

1935 Scott 269 15c green & orange brown
"River Scene"
The CV for the eleven stamp issue ranges from <$1 to $20+ used/ $35 unused.

1935 Scott 274 1r brown & violet
"View of Trincomalee"
Trincomalee is a port town on the east coast.

Entrance to Fort Fredrick
There, are the remnants of Fort Fredrick. Originally built by the Portuguese in 1624, it was occupied by the Dutch in 1665. The French were involved for a while, but then the fort was taken over by the British in 1795, and it remained a British garrison until 1948.

1938 Scott 279c 3c dark green & black (Perf 13 1/2)
"Adam's Peak"
The "George VI" 1938-52 thirteen stamp pictorial set uses many of the previously issued "George V" pictorial scenes, and eliminates the "Postage & Revenue" script.

Adams Peak (pictured in 1909) and Sri Pada ("Sacred Footprint") near the summit
Adam's Peak (7353 feet) in central interior Ceylon is well known for a belief that a footprint embedded in rock is of Buddha (Buddhist tradition) or of Shiva (Hindu tradition).

1938 Scott 283 20c dull blue & black
"Picking Tea"
James Taylor, a Scottish planter, introduced Tea plantations in 1867. Ceylon (Sri Lanka) has been known for its high quality black tea since. Today, Sri Lanka is the fourth largest tea producer in the world.

1944 Scott 278 2c carmine rose & black
"Ancient Guard Stone"; Anuradhapura
A Guard Stone (Muragala) was commonly found on either side of an entrance to a religious or royal building of Sinhalese architecture of ancient Ceylon as far back as the 1st century C E.

This stamp design is one of three new designs for the 1938-52 issue.

1938 Scott 281 10c blue & black
"Sigiriya (Lion Rock)"
This stamp pictorial is also new for the issue.

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress where a palace was built on top of the rock in the 5th century C E. 

1938 Scott 284 25c chocolate & dull ultramarine
"Temple of the Tooth, Kandy"
The 1938-52 thirteen stamp issue was again printed by different British firms: Bradbury Wilkinson - 6c,10c,15c,20c,25c,30c,1r,2r,; De La Rue - 2c,3c,50c,5r,10r. Actually, the 2c, 3c, 50c (Perf 11 X 11 1/2, 11 1/2 X 11) were also printed by Bradbury Wilkinson after December, 1940 when the De La Rue plant was bombed.

1938 Scott 285 30c dark green & rose carmine
"Ancient Reservoir"
CV for the George VI issue ranges from <$1 to $50 (10r).

I should mention that there are plenty of perforation variations (14 minor numbers) to pursue for the 2c, 3c, & 50c.. They mark what year the stamp was produced. 

1942 Scott 286e 50c dark violet & black
"Wild Elephants"
The Sri Lankan elephant is the largest of the four sub-species of Asian Elephants. The Wild Elephant count has decreased from 20,000 to 2,000 the last hundred years.

1938 Scott 289 5r brown violet & green "George VI"
All of the 1938-52 George VI issue was engraved, except for the 5r and 10r, which were typographed. One should note that the 10r was a revenue stamp, and had "REVENUE" inscribed vertically on either side of the frame. BUT, the 10r was valid for postage between Dec 1, 1952 - Mar 14, 1954.

1947 Scott 296 6c deep ultramarine & black
"Parliament Building, Colombo"
India was heading for independence, and so was Ceylon (soon to be Sri Lanka).

There was a four stamp issue released Nov 25, 1947 celebrating the new Constitution.

1947 Scott 298 15c red violet & greenish black
"Temple of the Tooth, Kandy"
Housing the relic of the tooth of the Buddha, Sri Dalada Maligawa is in the city of Kandy.

1940 Scott 290 3c on 20c dull blue & black
"Plucking Tea"
In 1940, the 20c dull blue & black was surcharged "3 cents" as shown.

1941 Scott 291 3c on 6c blue & black
"Colombo Harbor"
Likewise, in 1941, the 6c blue & black was surcharged by the Government Printing Office in Colombo. No doubt this was done because of the war and stamp shortages.

1947 Scott 295 2r violet & black
"Ancient Guard Stone"
Type of 1938
This is the 1947 version (color change) for the "Type of 1938" "Ancient Guard Stone" 2 Rupee stamp.

1947 Scott 292 5c red orange & olive green
"Coconut Palms"; Perf 12
The 5c denomination was printed, using the "Coconut Palms" design of the 1935 Issue, in 1943 (Perf 13 1/2) and in 1947 (Perf 12).

1947 Scott 297 10c carmine, orange & black
"Adam's Peak"
This 10c from the 1947 "New Constitution" set is postmarked Nov 25, the first day of issue.

1947 Scott 299 25c bright green & bister
"Dagoba at Anuradhapura"
Composed of over 90 million bricks, the Dagoba was built in the 3rd century BC, and was probably the 3rd tallest building in the ancient world after the two great pyramids of Giza.

1949 Scott 303 25c deep blue & brown
"D.S. Senanayake"; First Prime Minister
Independence (Feb 4, 1948)! - actually, this stamp was issued for the one year anniversary of Independence in 1949. Ceylon (Dominion Status) continued to rely on Great Britain for defense and external affairs.

1938 Scott 282 15c red brown & green
"River Scene"
Out of the Blue
Ceylon is on my bucket list for a visit. 

Comments appreciated!