From the heart of Borneo: Spink sells rare postage stamps from Silam and Sarawak


Over the weekend (September 24-25), Spink concluded their Fine Stamps & Covers of SE Asia Including the Stolz Collection auction.

It was a substantial sale, with nearly 1250 lots going under the hammer. The top lot was not unexpected, being a cover sent from Sarawak (one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo) via the Kuching GPO to London via Marseilles.

The 1863 (10 March) envelope was written by Rajah Brooke to Mrs Brown, a companion to Miss Burdett Coutts. Lady Burdett-Coutts was a 19th century philanthropist described by King Edward VII as being "…after my mother (Queen Victoria), the most remarkable woman in the kingdom."

The envelope bears an Indian 2a and 4a pair (one stamp damaged prior to use) tied by very rare "office of registry/Sarawak" double-ring handstamp.

(The handstamp is of type PS2, and this is the earliest recorded date of its use.)

Sarawak to London cover
A long journey - the $30,700 Sarawak to London cover

Additionally cancelled "B/172" in transit at Singapore, it shows a red crayon "1/2" and a London Paid arrival circular date stamp. On the reverse, a red "Singapore/PO" double-ring date stamp appears. The envelope bears the recipient's notation at the left.

Previously a part of the C.M.C. Symes collection, it sold on target for S$40,000 (US$30,700).

Another success in the auction was also from Borneo - Silam to be precise. The 1888 envelope is addressed to London and redirected locally, bearing two 1886 2c stamps and an 8c one, tied by a circular "Silam post office/Lion/B N Borneo" intaglio handstamp in blue.

Very rare, it surpassed its S$10,000-15,000 estimate to sell for S$17,000 (US$13,000).


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