Friday, 2 March 2018

A Sandakan American Consulate cover and letter

The American Consular Service at North Borneo was based in Sandakan which was the capital prior to the 2nd World War. George M Hanson (1869-1929), a native of Ogden, Weber county in Utah arrived in Sandakan on 27 June 1914 on the SS Darvel to start his post as the American Consul.

The sumptuous residence of  the American Consulate is described here, a picture of which you can see by searching the internet. You can see it by clicking the link here.

Here we have a description of the privileged daily routine of the ruling class in Sandakan at that period of our history. This type of household would have a chef, a maid, a "boy" and a gardener to look after most of their needs. In later years, a chauffeur would also be included when more roads were accessible as was certainly the situation in the later colonial days depending on the professional seniority of the these expatriates. But it was also not true that all expatriates lived to this standard.

The cover and the 4 page letter was sent by Mrs George M Hanson. George M Hanson was promoted to his post in Sandakan after spending 1 year 4 months at Hobart in Tasmania. There was a back stamp for Hong Kong before the letter made its way to San Francisco and ending up in Nevada.
The letter dated 27 December 1914 was written about 3 weeks after arriving in Sandakan with her niece via the Philippines from leave in the States. She was obviously finding it difficult to adjust to the climate and the food and in particular a craving for good butter. The letter gave some details of life for the expatriates in 1914.
George Hanson stayed on for about 2 years and his main function was to look after American interests and in particular new trading opportunities for goods made in USA. A report by his immediate predecessor in early 1914 stated that Britain had a third share in the foreign trade of North Borneo with Germany as the nearest competitor. 
And also of particular interest was an 18 page 1914 type written report by George M Hanson. This appeared in September 2018 on ebay and was sold for 200 US dollars. There was an informative preview of a few pages which gave a glimpse of some of the aspects of life in North Borneo. When WWl broke out, the American consulate was also looking after German owned interests such as the plantation at Batu Puteh on the Kinabatangan.
George M Hanson's predecessors at Sandakan were Lester Maynard (Consul 1906-1908), John Nimmo Wardrop (Vice Consul 1907-1916) and Orlando H Baker (Consul 1908-1913). There were some letters from Lester Maynard and a nice article here from a fellow blogger:
Orlando Harrison Baker was formerly a professor of ancient languages at Simpson College in Iowa before serving as consuls in Denmark, Australia and North Borneo. He died whilst on leave from Sandakan to USA on board an American ship in the harbour of Nagasaki in Japan. There was also some correspondence from him about North Borneo in the same blog:

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Some acquisitions

2017 has been a good year in this respect. But there have quite a few items that I failed to purchase due to the keenness and deeper pockets of fellow collectors. None the less, I have still been able to continue to build up my collection significantly. Some of the items are shown below.

The 1931 set is rightly sought after because it is in many NB collectors' opinion the best designed stamps from North Borneo. I have shown the set and the colour samples before. I have only this value of the specimen set and it is very good to start with the $5 value. 

This is the 1939 set used but I am only showing the high values. It is a very popular item on ebay.

This is the earlier of the BNBC type cancellations from Sandakan D9 and invariably for fiscal usage. It is different from D10 in having the St Andrew's Cross with dots instead of the typical Maltese Cross. The date here of 22 APR 91 is the same as the one shown in Proud's book. It is quite likely that this was a reference copy used in the illustration as it used to belong to a member of the Sarawak Specialists' Society. There are also BNBC type cancellations from Kudat and Jesselton. Kudat is quite uncommon and I rate the Jesselton as rare as I only have one copy after years of looking.

The 1930 AIR MAIL NORTH BORNEO covers went for very good money in last year's Spinks sale. It was somewhat unexpected as the majority were philatelic items and they did not even have the correct postal rate. My cover from Sandakan to Tawau shown here was quite likely used commercially. 

This is my second Beaufort Linotype but not as good as the other one here and also I prefer it on a North Borneo stamp. The BMA issues from North Borneo and Sarawak were eligible for use throughout the BMA territories of North Borneo, Labuan, Brunei and Sarawak when they were temporarily administered collectively as one area after the war from 12 September 1945 to 1 July 1946. 

These are my two from Tenom but they are not clear to make out. They are again on Sarawak stamps.

Sandakan Linotype on a moderately valuable Sarawak adhesive with a date of MAR 1946 30.

I got these two a couple of years back. The Tawao Linotype is quite uncommon especially with clean clear cancellations like these two with a date of 12 MAY 1946.