Thursday, November 17, 2011

Straits Settlements Stamps - Stamps of India Overprinted

The Straits Settlements was actually a group of territories in Southeast Asia established in 1826 under the British East India Company.  In 1867, it became a crown colony and came under direct British control.  While Indian stamps were used prior to 1867, with the status of it becoming a crown colony, new stamps had to be issued.  In the interim however, stamps of India overprinted with a crown and the stamp value of "cents" instead of "annas" was used. In a sense, these can be considered the first official postage stamps that were distinctively "created" for the Straits Settlements (since the previous stamps used were stamps from India) by overprinting it with the new values.

The set contained a total of 9 stamps with  values of 1 1/2cents, 2 cents, 3 cents, 4 cents, 6 cents, 8 cents, 12 cents, 24 cents and 32 cents).  However, only 5 different Indian stamps were used.  These 5 stamps were the 1/2 anna, 1 anna, 2 annas, 4 annas and 8 annas stamp.  The stamps were differentiated by different coloured ink overprints as well as different values:

  •  1/2 anna blue was used for the 1 1/2 cents.
  • 1 anna brown was used for the 2 cents, 3 cents and 4 cents
  • 2 annas yellow was used for the 6 cents, 8 cents and 32 cents
  • 4 annas green was used for the 12 cents
  • 8 annas rose was used for the 24 cents 

For the overprints, the colors used were as follows:

  • Red for 1 1/2 cents, 2 cents and 12 cents
  • Blue for 3 cents and 24 cents
  • Black for 4 cents and 32 cents
  • Purple for 6 cents
  • Green for 8 cents
An example of one of the stamps that I have bought off Ebay showing the 1 1/2 cents stamp(with the overprints in red depicting the crown that sits on Queen Victoria's head and the three half cents value of the stamp) is shown below:
1867 Stamp of India, Overprinted (Perforation 14 and Elephant's Head watermark)

As this overprinting on Indian stamps  was really an interim measure (the new stamps were printed by the end of 1867), not many of these stamps were produced.  An estimate of the printed quantity for the various stamps is shown below:
  • 1 1/2 cents - 40,000
  • 2 cents - 96,000
  • 3 cents - 96,000
  • 4 cents - 32,000
  • 6 cents - 24,000
  • 8 cents - 144,000
  • 12 cents - 24,000
  • 24 cents - 80,000
  • 32 cents - 64,000
The 12 cents and 6 cents are considered rarer and are harder to find.  

It is also not always true that the mint stamp is more expensive than the used stamp.  For example, the 1 1/2 cent stamp was hardly used at all so the used stamp is much more expensive than a mint stamp.  This is one of the reasons that there were actually some amendments made to the 1 1/2 cents during the period of 1867 onwards where the "THREE HALF" was deleted with a "2" written above it.  In the subsequent set of stamps issued, there was also no 1 1/2 cents value stamp anymore.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where to Buy Stamps (Part II)

I wrote about where to buy stamps some time back. In that post, I explored the various options on where one could buy your normal postage stamps (for your snail mail) and also for collectors.  I have been using mainly Ebay for a long time now and have always felt comfortable with it.  But then, I realised that it was hard to get some of the stamps that I was looking for.

Recently, a reader told me about 2 other auction sites that uses an auction method just like Ebay. They are :

  1. BidStart
  2. DelCampe
I must say that I was pretty surprised to find these 2 auction sites because I managed to find some of the stamps that I was looking for.  These were some older Straits Settlements stamps which I have been trying to get my hands on.  And the ones listed on Ebay were not the ones that I were looking for.  

To the reader who recommended this 2 sites to me:
Thanks for recommending this 2 auction sites to me!   I can never thank you enough!

Fiscally Used Straits Settlements Stamps

Part of my senseless buying rampage of stamps over Ebay includes the purchase of these fiscally used stamps featuring two beautiful judicial cancellations on a King George V 25 cents, $1 and $2 stamps.  It seems that there were holes punched into these stamps too to render them used.  Since these stamps were used as revenue stamps, they are really quite worthless in the philatelic sense but people still do purchase them off Ebay.  I think the beauty of them really lies in the judicial cancellation.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Improving Your Stamp Collection - Knowing Your Limits

I have been bidding on Ebay for many stamps lately and I realised that bidding is really done based on a spur of the moment thing.  Sometimes, it isn't simply because the stamp being put up for auction is valuable or anything.  It is just that I want to improve my collection and I really wanted it at that point in time.

Many times, I find myself being outbid by other presumably stamp collectors who somehow seem to have a deeper pocket than mine and who can afford to put up really crazy bids for the items.  It is with this that the realisation that stamp collecting is really about acquisition and it involves stepping over others to get the stamp that you treasure the most.

One thing for sure:  It is good to know your financial limits when seeking to improve or build up your stamp collection.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Straits Settlements Queen Victoria 1883-1891 Definitive Stamps

Just bought an entire lot of Straits Settlements stamps off Ebay and one of the sets includes the Straits Settlements QV Definitive II from 1883-1891.  Have the 2c, 4c, 5c, 6c, 24c and 32c USED.  Please see the scan below.

As I have some duplicates, was thinking that it was possible to actually perhaps sell the extra ones off Ebay.  However, I am not so sure about paying a listing price when there is no confirmation that anyone will actually buy these stamps.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Postal Codes and Mail Sorting

A few days back, I wrote about Singapore's Postal Code system and how it has evolved over the past from a 2 digit code to a 4 digit code and finally to the current 6 digit numerical code.  Searched online for a video on how mail sorting is done and am surprised to realise that it is now almost fully automated with computers being able to analyse even handwriting.  Feel free to watch the video below.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Queen Victoria Straits Settlements Stamps

Look what just arrived in my mail box.  A lovely set of 4 stamps from the Straits Settlements era from various Queen Victoria definitive set.  Seriously, I can't really tell the difference between all the various definitive especially for the King Edward VII sets.  They all look the same to me.  Anyway, here is a scan of the stamps:

I believe the top row (from left) is a 1882 Queen Victoria Definitive 1(b) 8 cents and 10 cents. This is followed by the carmine rose "THREE CENTS" surcharge on 32 cents.  The last stamp is a 1892-1899 Queen Victoria Definitive III 3 cent brown colored stamp.

Do let me know if I got my stamps correctly defined.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Formula One Stamps

I finally bought the set of Formula One stamps that was missing from my 2008 Singapore collection.  The face value of the stamps is $2 each.  So the total face value is actually $4 for the block of 2 stamps.  However, I had to pay a total of $6 because it was no longer available off Singpost's website.

Have provided a pic of the stamps below (not a scan )

I am not really certain that I can appreciate the design of this set of stamps.  It is a bit too modern for me and I don't understand the digital look and feel.  Would have preferred if it was real cars or something depicted on the stamps or perhaps face of some of the drivers.  But perhaps there are copyright and trademark issues.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Singapore Postal Code - Interesting Facts

Singapore's 6 digit postal code has some interesting history and facts. For the uninitiated, a postal code is basically a series of digits or letters that are appended to the address to aid in the sorting out of mail.  In Singapore, the current postal code used is a 6 digit postal code (i.e. all numbers).  I still remember the days when it used to be a 4 digit code which was so much easier to remember.  In actual fact, a quick check on Singapore's postal code history reveals that there were really 3 different postal codes used.

Postal Code formats throughout Singapore's history
1950 - 2 digit postal code
1979 - 4 digit postal code
1995 - 6 digit postal code

To find out the 6 digit postal code of any address in Singapore, you can use Singpost's service here. All you have to do is provide the block number and street name.

Well, Singapore in the 1950s was divided into 28 postal districts.  These 28 postal districts are actually the same as the districts that you will find even today in classified ads for properties. This goes to show how long entrenched the district system really is and it shows how the way postal districts were organised have gone on to influence the way a property is classified today.  For example, the district 9 properties (Orchard Road, Tanglin, Cairnhill) are often the ones that fetch a high price in the property market.

Subsequently, in 1979, the 28 postal districts were further subdivided into sectors, bringing to a total of 81 sectors.  So in the 4 digit postal codes, the first 2 digits still represented the initial postal district (i.e. 1 to 28) and the last 2 digits represented the sector (i.e. 1 to 81).  I guess this method helped in the sorting of mail tremendously since certain postal districts tend to be large.  In fact, there was a stamp issued in Singapore in 1979 to commemorate the introduction of this new 4 digit postal code.

In 1995, the 6 digit code was introduced. The first 2 digits were now the postal sector code (i.e. 1 to 81).  The remaining 4 digits indicated the delivery point. For HDB blocks, the last 3 numbers refer to the block number (e.g. XXX355 for block 355 and XXX089 for block 89).  If there are 2 blocks with the same number in that certain sector, that is where the 3rd digit comes into play.  (E.g. XX1089 and XX2089).

Interestingly, another Singapore stamp was issued in 1995 when the 6 digit postal code was introduced.  In that stamp, the 4 digit postal code shows 1543 meaning that it was in district 15 and sector 43.  That places it in the Katong/Joo Chiat/Amber Road area.  in the stamp, the new 6 digit code for 1543 was translated to 430010 where 43 was the postal sector.  010 is thus the block number or house number.

So it seems that there is some duplication in the way we write addresses on our envelopes in Singapore.  Since the 6 digit postal code can be derived from the block number and street name, I guess your mail will still get to the intended recipient even if you leave it out(?).  Or you could just state the unit number with the postal code without the street name and your mail should reach the correct address. [Warning: This is just my hunch.  Try at your own risk!]

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Philatelic Literature, Stamp Magazines and Stamp Collecting Books

After browsing through many bookstores in Singapore, I realised that there really isn't much one can buy or read regarding postage stamps.  For now, I am confined to the Stamp Magazine which I bought for $12.90 at Times bookshop as well as the August 2011 and September 2011 issue of the same above mentioned magazine.  It really bothers me that I could not find much to read about postage stamps after reading various local bookstores.  It probably means that stamp collecting is in the decline here in Singapore.

Well, reading the Stamp Magazine is fine for me.  Trouble is that a lot of the topics are really on Great Britain stamp issues and so it does not really relate very well with me.  One could certainly do with a lot more literature on philately considering that information on certain stamps as well as the history/design/thought process behind many of the stamps are really scarce and hard to find on the internet.

Anyway, just an interesting fact that I found out.  3 Kings ruled during 1936.  Who were they?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Straits Settlements 1867

The first issue of the Straits Settlements stamps took place on 1 Sept 1867 and the stamps used were basically Indian stamps that were overprinted with the crown and the different rate of postages (See example here) .  It comprise a set of 9 stamps featuring 1 1/2 cents, 2 cents, 3 cents, 4 cents, 6 cents, 8 cents, 12 cents, 24 cents and 32 cents.

Of these, I think the 6 cents and 12 cents are pretty rare as I do not seem to be able to find them on eBay.  A quick check on some catalogue prices on the internet also seem to suggest that the entire set of 9 used stamps command a price of almost S$2000!

Have been trying desperately to get my hands on this as this is afterall the first issue of Straits Settlements stamps or the first stamps of Singapore when it was formed into the Straits Settlements together with Penang and Malacca.  Every collection has to start somewhere and my Singapore collection has to start with this Sept 1867 issue of 9 stamps.

I did a rather quick research on Ebay (based on the final bidding prices or buy it now prices) to check some of the prices of these stamps:

3 cents used =  US$54.08 (16 bids)
4 cents used  = US$74.26 (20 bids)
8 cents used  = US$35.00 (Buy it now price)
24 cents used = US$24.99 to US$40.34 (Buy it now price) OR $67.80 (17 bids)
32 cents used = US58.12 (12 bids)

Hope it is useful reference for all.  Apparently, the Ebay prices are going for much lower than the catalogue prices.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Straits Settlements Stamps 1885 and 1892 Surcharge

This are 2 Straits Settlements stamps that I bought some time back. Apologise for the lousy scan as it was done through a stock sheet and there was another protective covering inside the stock sheet so the image is not very clear.

The first stamps is an 1885 stamp 3 cents surcharge on 32 cent pale magenta.

The second stamp to the right is an 1892-1894 3 cents surcharged on a 32cents carmine-rose stamp.

Bought both of these stamps off ebay at the price of USD$4.50.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Singapore Stamp - 1980 Fujian Junk

This stamp was issued in 1980 and depicts a Fujian Junk ship. The Fujian Junk is a traditional Chinese ship. In fact, there was a Fujian Junk moored in Philippines that was restored by ship restorer Graeme Morris.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Where To Buy Stamps

There are actually many places that one can buy stamps from in Singapore. If you are simply looking for postage stamps to send your letters, you can simply buy it from any post office or a self-service automated machine (SAM). SAMs are conveniently located all around the island and you can find them in shopping malls or at mrt stations. There is a minimum purchase though so one will have to buy quite a few of the postage labels. The ones sold at SAM are usually the adhesive postage labels and I don't think there is much philatelic interest in them even amongst stamp collectors.

If you are looking to buy the traditional kind of postage stamps for collecting, you can always buy it from Singpost's online store which is called VPost. Just search for the link to philatelic and you will be able to browse and buy a great deal of both local and foreign stamps. Delivery charges are pretty cheap and they usually reach my home in 3 working days.

Another source where I buy stamps from is EBay. I have spent lots of money buying postage stamps from EBay and have always received my stamps on time and in order. The prices are bait more steep compared to the actual prices they were originally sold at as the sellers have to make a profit at the end of the day. You can find tons of stamps on EBay and they include both used as well as mint stamps.

I have also heard that some countries even have a system where you can buy stamps online and then print out the postage stamps to use. Now how cool is that?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Singapore Ship Definitives - 1980 Caravel 50 cents

Lately, I have been scanning the various stamps that I have. When I am free, I upload them onto this blog. It is pretty entertaining just to do so and besides, I think people like reading about stamps too since it is a pretty cool hobby where you basically learn a lot more about the things/history/people that is depicted on the various stamps.

The used stamp below was issued in 1980 and depicts a Caravel which is a kind of boat that was used by the Portugese in their exploration. Their speed and agility made it possible for the Portugese to travel down to India and eventually Asia where the spice trade was pretty profitable. Singapore was part of these cross-roads in the spice trade though I don't recall in my history lessons ever reading that it fell to Portugese or Spanish hands.

So the caravel was really an important invention and it did have an impact on the spice trade in Asia.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Singapore Honey Bee Stamp 1985 10 cents

This is a Honey Bee stamp from Singapore issued in 1985. It is part of a set of insects low definitives and I actually have quite a few duplicates. Would like to think that this is one of the first few stamps that I had when I first started my collection many years ago.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Community Chest Stamp 1989

Managed to scan another Community Chest Stamp that was printed in 1989. It is probably from the same series as the first community chest stamp that I wrote about just yesterday. Like I said, it most probably is not a postage stamp per se. The scan of this stamp is shown below. The plan depicted in the stamp is quite a common potted plant that is often bought by Chinese families during the lunar new year in Singapore.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lunar New Year 1989 Community Chest

I came across this stamp in my stamp album and realised that it was not in the stamp catalogue. Tried to do a search on the internet to find out what kind of stamp this is. I am figuring that it is really not a postage stamp at all but it really looks like one. It clearly shows the Community Chest of Singapore which is sort of a charity in Singapore.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Singapore Stamp Catalogue

Have been using this particular stamp catalogue which I find extremely useful for searching up on old stamps issued in Singapore. It is titled "Singapore Postage Stamps Catalogue". The one that I have is the 2nd edition. Bought it at a retail price of S$20. It was written by I think one of the owners of CS Philatelic Agency which has an outlet in Peninsula Shopping Centre. I have bought some of my stamp supplies from there and I must say that the shop is pretty well-stocked. There are not many stamp shops around Singapore and one is hard pressed to find shops that specialises in postage stamps nowadays.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Singapore Tourism Low Value Definitions -1990

Bought a set of  9 stamps of Ebay that were from 1990.  They are basically low value tourism definitions.  Sorry that the scanned picture did not come out well and the colors are not really depicted correctly.  Need to get my scanner to work properly.

The stamps depicted are as follows:
5 cents - Singapore Zoological Gardens
15 cents - Sentosa
20 cents - Singapore River
25 cents - Dragon Boat Festival
30 cents - Raffles Hotel
35 cents - Bird Singing/Watching
40 cents - Jurong BirdPark
50 cents - Boat Float
75 cents - Peranakan Place

Monday, July 4, 2011

UK Christmas Stamps

I bought some stamps and had lots of duplicates of this UK Christmas stamps that feature Santa Clause and also a snowman. When I say duplicates, I really mean lots and lots of extras. I really like UK stamps and Christmas stamps as a whole but I don't know why these 2 stamps don't really look attractive to me at all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Singapore Vietnam Joint Issue Stamps

Just got my hands on a new set of stamps. It is the Singapore Vietnam joint issue fruit stamps. I bought the presentation pack at $3.45 and the set of stamps too at $1.75.

If you look at the picture above, you can probably see the 2 stamps featuring the two different fruits. One is the dragronfruit while the other is the durian. The cover of the presentation pack (bottom picture) shows the dragronfruit plant and a durian on a branch.

Both these fruits are tropical fruits and I am not sure how many people have tried both fruits. I have since I live in tropical Singapore. Unfortunately, being a city, most of our fruits are imported from neighboring countries.

Dragonfruits are usually grown on wooden stakes around 1m high. The plant looks like a kind of cactus. There are two kinds of dragonfruit. One has red flesh while the other has white flesh. It tastes sweet and I like the red flesh one much better. The texture of the fruit is abit like peach (well that is the closest fruit I can think of).

Most people are probably familiar with the durian fruit so I shall not bother explaining it. What most Westerners probably don't know is that there are really many different "brands" of durian and each so called "brand" really has their own unique taste and texture. The best place to eat a durian is to go to a durian plantation where they will probably have a eat all you can kind of buffet where you get to sample the various kinds of durian. Durian has a texture like custard and there are those that tastes sweet as well as those that tastes bitter.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fujeira 101 Dalmatians Stamp Set

Was dusting off the dust from some of my old stamp albums when I came across this set of stamps which I thought was a set of Cinderella stamps. The words Fujeira was printed at the bottom of each stamp and it featured scenes from the cartoon 101 Dalmatians. I had never heard of Fujeira before so I decided to do some Googling.

To my surpise, this was not a Cinderella stamp. Fujeira or Fujairah is actually one of seven states belonging to the UAE. This explained the somewhat Arabic prints on the bottom of the stamps which I could not make out too. I can't really recall how I landed my hands on this set of stamps but it is a set of MNH stamps cancelled out nicely in the year 1972. A total of 20 stamps, the market value of this stamp is around US$3 based on a quick check from eBay thought I am sure the actual value might be somewhat lesser since eBay prices are always sort of marked up by a fair bit of 10-30%.


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