Well we think we are independent, we have a constitution, a flag, and Austrian stamps

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. We have an interesting story to tell of locals seizing an opportunity and holding out just long enough for world opinion to force the hand of the colonial power.

The stamp today is a very well done virtually real stamp from 1949. An American stamp from the same year would not be nearly so well printed. While the stamp says Republik Indonesia, as of the day of issue the area was still officially the Dutch East Indies. The rebellion had contracted with printers in Vienna, note Wein in small letters on the bottom, to print stamps. They were to be mainly marketed by an American stamp dealer named Proofs. A few of the stamps made it to Indonesia and were sold for postage but cancelled copies are so rare that the Scott catalog has not enough data to set a value.

The stamp is issue C24, a 75 sen air mail stamp issued by the rebel forces in Dutch East Indies on August 17th, 1949. It is part of a 13 stamp issue in various denominations celebrating the Indian flown airplanes that were ignoring the Dutch blockade and bringing supplies to rebel held areas. The stamp shows a rebel sentry and a DC4 airliner over Lake Toba in Sumatra. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 95 cents. There are later overprints of these stamps celebrating actual independence and these are worth less.

Holland expended a great deal of effort in a failed bid to hold on to their Dutch East India colony. While the rule had become slightly less repressive with less peasant forced labor and more educational opportunities, independence movements were dealt with harshly and rebellious leaders like future president Sukarno spent much time in jail. At the time World War II broke out there were three active rebellions against the Dutch. One centered on Islam, one Communist, one centered on Indonesian nationalism lead by Sukarno. Sukarno was charismatic and spoke many indies dialects as well as Dutch, English, French, and Japanese. He had been well educated in Dutch schools When Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies they released Sukarno from jail and encouraged him to rally the people in favor of the Japanese war effort. He did so and during Japanese occupation he was allowed to head a group of Indonesians to work on the formation of an independent Indonesia. This group wrote a constitution and Japan was preparing to recognize Indonesian independence when the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan and they surrendered. Sukarno then got to work, he personally proclaimed independence and got most of the Japanese occupiers to turn over their arms to the new Indonesia. Quickly the Dutch administration reappeared from exile with a brigade of the British Indian army and took the biggest city Jakarta. They rearmed Dutch POWs held by the Japanese.

At first there was no fighting and the Indonesians helped the British and the Dutch get the surrendered Japanese soldiers home. Sukarno was at the time wooing the west. He understood there was much anticolonial sentiment in the west and he had ingratiated himself somewhat by respecting all religions in the 1945 constitution, excluding sharia law. He also without western help put down communist rebels within  his movement. The Dutch sent more troops and fighting broke out with Sukarno’s forces being pushed from much of the country. The Dutch  had many casualties however and America was against them, threatening to cut off Marshall Plan aid if independence was not granted. The Dutch yielded late in 1949 and independent Indonesia was recognized with Sukarno the first President.

I know this stamp seemed a little fake at the time of issue. This stamp so well reflects the history of the time that any resurgence of stamp collecting in Indonesia  could see a big  run up in the value of the stamp. The stamps printed in Vienna were very attractive and did a great job showing off the birth of the nation. Indonesia is a populous nation with many well off people. How could any patriotic Indonesian stamp collector not have these stamps in their collection. Get them while they are still cheap!

Well, my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the discussion in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.