November 2014

This afternoon we were entertained by the immediate past President of the Royal Philatelic Society, Brain Trotter (FRPSL) who displayed a wonderful collection of South African and Borneo material. Brian started with a fascinating history of the Cape of Good Hope. He mentioned that countries were reluctant to colonise the Cape as it was such a dangerous stretch of water, but eventually the Dutch found their way there in 1652. The Cape became a very important part of the trading route and changed hands between the Dutch and the British over a number of years, finally becoming British until it became the Union of South Africa in 1910 (now known as the Republic of South Africa). Brian showed us a variety of covers with many different rates, as confusion reigned over the postal rates. To send a letter in the 1870s was extremely expensive but eventually postal reform did come about by weight and a uniform 4d penny rate was established. With new territories being formed, such as, Bechuanaland, Orange Free State, Stellaland, Transvaal, Natalia, led to more confusion on postal rates, as the local mail seemed to be sent by Dutch currency and international mail by British currency. In 1873 with the introduction of the famous triangular Cape stamps, eventually rates did become uniform. Brian also showed the De La Rue perforated postage due stamps and their various die proofs, art work and plates. South Africa eventually took over the printing of the postage due stamps in the 1920s. These stamps were rouletted, not perforated which culminated in many errors.
In the second half Brian showed aspects of Borneo which was a very different scenario to the turmoil of the Cape. This was a tranquil tropical place where nothing really happened until the Japanese invaded in 1941.

The Sultanate of Brunei granted large parts of land in Sarawak in 1842 to the English adventurer James Brooke, as reward for his having helped quell a local rebellion. Brooke established the Kingdom of Sarawak and was recognised as its rajah after paying a fee to the Sultanate. He established a monarchy, and the Brooke dynasty (through his nephew and great-nephew) ruled Sarawak for 100 years; the leaders were known as the White Rajahs. In the early 19th century, British and Dutch governments signed the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 to exchange trading ports under their controls and assert spheres of influence. This resulted in indirectly establishing British-and Dutch-controlled areas in Borneo, in the north and south, respectively. We were treated with a variety of mail starting with a re-directed letter from 1846. We saw a collection of different handstamps for censored mail during WWII, together with the introduction of War Tax on stamps, overprints, and a wonderful sample collection of Philip Funk Chinese postcards which were printed in the early 1900s.

Brian also showed us Borneo stamps that were overprinted for use in Labuan. Labuan is a federal Territory off the coast of Borneo in East Malaysia.

An educational and intriguing afternoon.