First North Borneo Airmail 1930

History of North Borneo Airmail
first north borneo airmail
Crews of the RAF seaplanes in Borneo in 1930s – Williams, Nicholetts, Cushing and Captain G. Livock.

The first North Borneo airmails were carried by two R.A.F seaplanes on survey or training flights (S1149 and S1419) under the command of Squadron Leader G.E. “Gerry” Livock.

Because of the rarity of such flights in those days, mails that boarded the planes are mainly of souvenir and philatelic nature. Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo all produced specific airmail postmarks for the special and rare occasion.

The Sarawak airmail postmark is circular with the town name inscribed on the top half and “AIR MAIL” inscription on the lower half. The date is inscribed at the centre.

The Brunei airmail postmark consists of a special box cachet inscribed AIR MAIL BRUNEI in two lines.

The North Borneo postmark incorporates both the plane symbol and the inscription of “AIR MAIL NORTH BORNEO”.

first north borneo airmail
Special cachet for North Borneo Airmail flight in 1930

The North Borneo airmail postmark was used in the following towns:

Jesselton (2 June – 3 June 1930),
Kudat (4 June- 5 June, 25 June 1930),
Sandakan (9 June and 21 June 1930),
Tawao (13 June – 14 June 1930 ); and
Lahad Datu (18 June 1930).

As the dates imply, the route may have been from Jesselton to Kudat then to Sandakan, to Tawao and to Lahad Datu.

From Lahad Datu the plane went to Sandakan and then to Kudat, before returning to Jesselton.

 Airmail rates

In 1930, the normal surface rate for letters in inland North Borneo and Labuan was 3c for the first ounce and 2c for the next additional ounce. Postcard rate was 2c. For foreign address the rate was 12 c for the first ounce and 10c for each subsequent ounce. Postcard rate was 4c.

first north borneo airmail
S1149

To board the RAF seaplanes, an additional charge of 25c is applied for every half ounce of a letter in addition to the normal surface rate.

In 1933, three seaplanes made similar surveying journeys (S1479, S1420 and S1151), but unfortunately did not carry any mail.

Example of covers
Pictures
Note
First North Borneo Airmail

Sandakan Airmail Postmark (9 June 1930)

This cover was listed in ebay in 2010. It is franked with 3 stamps - 1cent, 16 cents and 24 cents; and tied with a clear airmail postmark. The upper part of the cover shows the town and date of postage - Sandakan (9 Jun 1930). Sold for $762 or £494.
2
Jesselton Airmail Postmark (2 June 1930)
This cover appeared in SSS auction in autumn 2009 bearing the first North Borneo Airmail Postmark dated 2 June 1930. The stamps used in this particular cover is 28 cents rather than the normal 3c per ounce for normal surface mail in inland North Borneo (Nov 1921 rate). Dated 2 June 1930, the earliest possible date for such a service. Sold for £210.

I think the address should have been: “H.A. Dabell Esq, C/O A.J. B. Broodbank Esq, Sandakan, British North Borneo”.

3

Kudat Airmail Postmark (5 June 1930)

This cover was sent from Kudat to Sandakan on the 5th of June 1930. 5 airmail postmarks were used to cancel the set of 13 stamps from 1cent to 25 cents.
4 Tawao Airmail Postmark (14 June 1930)

Very interesting cover franked with British North Borneo 1c, 10c definitives + 20c on 18c surcharged stamp. Tied with boxed “Air Mail/ North Borneo” cancellation depicting the single engine airplane, endorsed in manuscript at upper left, “1st Air Mail/ from N. Borneo” to Scotland; On the reverse shows Tawao 14 Jun 1930 origin postmark, then transit to Sandakan in 20 Jun 1930 and arrives in Jesselton on 25 Jun 1930. Good condition, cancellation ink offset and smears on front and back.

This cover appeared in ebay in 12 Oct 2009. I can’t remember exactly how much the winning bid was but I think it’s more than $200.

5

Sandakan Airmail Postmark (21 June 1930)

Another nice airmail postmark of Sandakan. The cover is franked with a $1 stamp of 1925-1928 stamp issue, tied neatly with the boxed airmail postmark. The top centre of the cover shows the Sandakan town postmark, dated 21 Jun 1930. The cover was auctioned in the Spink Singapore auction in 25 June 2000. The estimated price was $240 – $300, and sold for $223.

The cover is again addressed to H.A. Dabell Esq, now in Kudat address. It is difficult to establish who Mr. Dabell really was. Nonetheless, there’s a good chance that other airmail covers addressed to H.A. Dabell may exist out there, waiting to be discovered.

6
Sandakan Airmail Postmark (21 June 1930)

Another nice airmail postmark of Sandakan. The cover is franked with a $1 stamp of 1925-1928 stamp issue, tied neatly with the boxed airmail postmark. The top centre of the cover shows the Sandakan town postmark, dated 21 Jun 1930. The cover was auctioned in the Spink Singapore auction in 25 June 2000. The estimated price was $240 – $300, and sold for $223.

The cover is again addressed to H.A. Dabell Esq, now in Kudat address. It is difficult to establish who Mr. Dabell really was. Nonetheless, there’s a good chance that other airmail covers addressed to H.A. Dabell may exist out there, waiting to be discovered.

7
Sandakan Airmail Postmark (9 June 1930)

Cover carried on the First Flight from Sandakan to Tawao. Franked with 1909-22 4c, 8c and 1925-28 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c, 6c and 10c cancelled by three strikes of boxed “AIR MAIL / NORTH BORNEO”, with datestamps of Sandakan and Tawao. Dated 9 June 1930. Appeared in Argyll Etkin Stamps auction in Sept 24, 2009 with estimated price of £250-350. Hammer price is unknown.

Second & Third North Borneo Airmail

The second flight (April 1933) via seaplanes S147, S1420 and S1151 made similar survey visits but did not carry any mails. The third flight took place in 06.06.1949 from Jesselton to other towns. No other towns were involved in the third flight and as such no airmail postmarks were produced.

 

This article about First North Borneo Airmail is an updated version of previously written article by me in North Borneo Stamps blog.

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