Portuguese Guinea 1913, training assimilados to break away

Why did European countries try to hold on to colonies when the original reason  for being there had passed and the involvement is a burden for all involved. So slip in your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

This stamp sets The Philatelist record for how many ways Portugal showed that they did not care about Guinea through the stamp issue. Notice that Guinea is just overprinted on a stamp of Macau, another Portuguese country on the other side of the world. Next notice that is the Vasco da Gama 400th anniversary issue from 1898. This version is from 15 years later. Next notice that Portugal’s form of government and currency had changed. Both great reasons for a new stamp issue but instead handled with overprints. Grade F for effort.

Todays stamp is issue CD26, a 10 Centavo on 16 Ries stamp overprinted for the colony of Portuguese Guinea in 1913 on a stamp intended for Macau. The colony also used the same stamp  but intended for Portuguese Africa and Timor. There were eight different denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $1.60 whether mint or used.

The Portuguese first arrived in Guinea in 1452. There was not much land area onshore controlled by Portugal just the trading post at Bassau  and a few close offshore islands. The name Guinea is from the Portuguese for black people. The trading was mainly in slaves. There was  a hope that some of the gold that came from the interior might pass through Bissau but most stayed in Ghana, then the Gold Coast.

After the end of the slave trade, Portugal sold the rights to economically develop /exploit Guinea to foreign firms. The area did not prove attractive to white colonists. Crops of peanuts and palm oil were exported in small amounts but not in quantities enough to be profitable. The population was growing fast and rice for food was an important crop. Again with this, productivity was quite low and the colony always had large trade deficits.

The colony brought with it a duty to civilize. Starting in 1913, the colonial administration began classifying local African as assimilated or unassimilated. To be assimilated one had to speak Portuguese, be baptized Catholic, and live in the manner of a westerner. Fewer than 10 percent of the Africans qualified. Getting certified Assimilado meant that there was better ability to get jobs and educational opportunities. The Portuguese claimed to hope that the Assimilados would inspire their fellow blacks to join them as sort of junior Portuguese citizens.

Instead the Assimilados lead the independence movement against Portugal. As the ones that inherited the colony after Portugal departed in 1974, they must take responsibility for the lack of progress since. The Assimilados are only a small minority and still live as colonial masters used to, except ever more degraded. As such they are more a connection to the past than the way forward for the bulk of the people who never assimilated. The junior Portuguese citizens proved to be something less than inspiration.

Well my drink is empty and I will open the discussion in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Chad 1962, Africanizing with Sara Chaditude

French Equatorial Africa had some borders that made more sense to the French then the native tribes. Even when it broke down into smaller states such as Chad, there was not readily the makings of a cohesive country. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

An African topical stamp. Well at least there really are antelopes in Chad. This also presents itself as a postage due issue. I have a difficult time imagining a mail sender dropping off his mail with no money, receiving this stamp to stick to the envelope. The letter than gets mailed and the receiver pays his postman 2 Francs that then gets back to the post office, all in chaotic post independence Chad. Call me cynical. As early as the 1970s, there were at least 3 government agents, including President Tombalbaye personally giving contracts to produce postage stamps for Chad, so sorting real issues is a challenge.

The stamp today is issue D5, a 2 African Franc stamp issued by the independent republic of Chad. It was part of a 12 stamp issue in various denominations that displayed African wildlife and tribal warriors. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents.

Chad was the first colony returned to the Free French after the fall of France. This was due to the efforts of Frances first black colonial governor and Sara tribesman. In revenge, in 1942 the capital Fort Lamy was bombed by the Germans. After this the French understandably favored the Sara tribe over the Arab tribesman of northern Chad. Thus it was a Sara tribesman, Francois Tombalbaye that was groomed to rule after the French left and became the last colonial governor in 1959 and the first President in 1960. Post independence he set upon a process of Africanization he called Chaditute that saw his fellow tribesman favored for government service. This cost money and new taxes were collected in what Tombalbaye called national loan. It amounted to Sara tribesman shaking down Arab tribesman and offering much less in return than the old French administration. Trombalbaye required all government employees to go through initiation in the Sara tribe. Doing so was heresy to Christians and Muslims alike. He also changed names of the capital from Fort Lamy to N’Djamena and his own first name from Francois  to Ngarta.

The Arab north was soon rebelling with help of northern  neighbor Libya. The Chad army proved incapable and President Tombalbaye had to request French help to put it down. With French soldiers came administrators to try to put the government back together and have more Muslim representation. This angered even Tombalbaye’s allies who hated the French.

As soon as French soldiers left in 1971, Tombalbaye tried to solidify his position, he purged his army in the so called black sheep affair. He arrested several officers on the crime of sorcery, for sacrificing black sheep in a ceremony designed to curse President Tombalbaye. He then got back to marginalizing the French by reaching out to Libyan strongman Qaddafi. He in turn cut off aid to the Arab rebels to the north and replaced cut off French aid. Tombalbaye was obviously trying to cover his bases but perhaps his military purge did not go deep enough. In 1975, the Army attacked the Presidential Palace and killed him without a trial. Chad’s situation did not really improve till many years later when oil was discovered. The country is now dominated by the northern Arabs.

Well my drink is empty so I will open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting

White/South Russia 1920, Fake stamp issued by the Black Barron

It was a hopeless fight. The landowning class of Imperial Russia trying to change the fate that awaited them from the much more numerous Red Army. Could they use the old aristocratic military tradition and playing to religion to win over the people and turn the tide? 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

White Russia, renamed in retrospect South Russia, wasn’t a real country. So todays stamp was more to raise revenue and publicity for the military and political movement. The nature of the stamps, poor printing on poor paper but at the same time oversized show them not for postage but more like mini propaganda posters.

Denikin, named after the White movement’s general, are common and of little value. The exception being one of these stamps with a cancelation from actual postal use. The White movement half occupied a decent amount of territory including many post offices that mostly were not functioning but occasionally…

After the October 1917 Bolshevik revolution several former Czarist military formed a new volunteer White army to take on the new Red Army. The old Czarist army was mostly in tatters after being defeated by Germany in World War I. The Red Army, though larger, was not in good shape either. General Anton Denikin lead his forces and occupied much of Ukraine. the Caucus mountains and along the Volga river. The group appealed based on Russian patriotism and  Russian Orthodox Christian identity. The Bolsheviks were described as Jewish. In theory, a division along these lines was adventitious to the White movement, as Russia was only about 5 percent Jewish. The Bolsheviks on the other hand, while promoting atheism, had leaders that were 88 percent of Jewish background including the leader known as Trotsky who was Commandant of the Red Army.

The Black Barron

Despite receiving support from the West and from the wealthy landowning class, their forces of mostly Cossacks was not successful. The Red Army defeated the White Army at Orel 300 miles south of Moscow in October 1919. General Denikin resigned and went into exile and was replaced by General Pyotr Wrangel who the Reds made famous as the Black Barron. The force was gradually pushed back to the Crimea from which many went into exile including the Black Baron. Those that chose to remain suffered through decossackifacation  with many killed. The Black Barron himself was poisoned by his butler’s brother who was a Soviet agent while living in Belgium and working as a mining engineer. Denikin lived out his live writing memoirs in Paris and later in New York City. He lobbied against the provisions of the Yalta treaty that called for the forced repatriation of Russians in the western zone after World War II that included anti Soviet Cossacks and White Russians who were promptly executed as Denikin had warned. His daughter many years later made contact with Putin and Denikin has been rehabilitated and his remains returned to Russia and buried with honor. Among his writings from exile were discussions on the proper relations between Russia and Ukraine who he described as Great Russia and Little Russia. His work was extensively quoted by Putin during the Russian troubles with Ukraine recently. His injection of religious identity politics during the civil war in Russia means that he was considered an enemy by Israelis.

Well I am left with an empty drink and a fake stamp. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Spain 1870, Can Amadeus stop the rocking after the glorious revolution

Queen Isabella II was not well regarded. She vacillated politically disappointing all sides. Yet when she was deposed it was her replacements turn to vacillate. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The Queen is gone! Long live the Queen, in Paris exile. So who is this on the stamp. One of the upstart faceless general/ politicians that replaced her. No they don’t inspire confidence and change places so fast there isn’t time to get a stamp designed and printed. So what are Spanish stamp designers to do to show Spain’s best. 19th century European stamp fans can guess. Here we have Espana, the Latin female embodiment of the Spanish nation. The full face gives it away, Royals prefer profile portraits.

Todays stamp is issue A20, a 50 Milesimas stamp issued by Spain on January 1st, 1870. It was a 14 stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $5 used. A mint version would be worth $125, proving praise be that the stamp was actually meant to be mailed.

Queen Isabella II was forced into Paris exile in 1868. A group of dismissed former generals/politicians  had landed from exile and most of the Spanish Army had defected to them. A self proclaimed glorious revolution. Unfortunately for the conspirators they were badly divided. They were from the left, so many of the conspirators desired a Spanish Republic. Others wanted a King, not a vacillating Queen. They themselves debated between Isabella’s young son. a German candidate, who seemed most competent but would likely lead to war between France and Prussia, A Portuguese who had served as regent there and Amadeus, the second son of Victor Emanuel I, the King of Italy and head of the house of Savoy.

After a regency that looked more like a military junta, Amadeus was named Amadeo I, King of Spain. Amadeus had previously annoyed his father by marrying a minor Piedmont noble who was rich and therefore made him less reliant on an allowance from his father. Soon after the marriage, she wrote to the King asking him to displine her husband regarding his infidelities. Victor Emanuel wrote back that he understood her feelings but who was she to dictate how her husband acts and the jealousy was unbecoming in a woman.

Future King Amadeus with his wife Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo

Amadeus was not having much luck in Spain. The political party that brought him in relied more on election fraud than popular support. He faced House of Bourbon based uprisings in Basque and Catalonian areas and republican uprisings in the cities. The Army wasn’t much help as the artillery corps went on strike. Amadeus tried to go around the country to bolster his support but then faced an assassination attempt that shot up the Royal Carriage, killing the horses but leaving him unhurt. The political party than instructed Amadeus to discipline the artillery corps. He did that and then immediately abdicated. A Republic was declared and Amadeus made a surprise visit to the legislature declaring that Spain was ungovernable and he was going back to Italy. Any vestige of the glorious revolution ended two years later when the republic failed and Isabella II’s son Alfonso was crowned King. Alfonso had rumors swirling around that his father wasn’t really King consort Francis a homosexual, but one of Isabella’s generals that had conspired against her.

Well my drink is empty and I will pour another and toast the beautifull Espana as seen on todays stamp, even though perhaps Amadeus was right and Spain is ungovernable. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting,

New Guinea 1932, when Australia needed New Guinea like a city needs water and the fuzzy wuzzy angels could be relied upon

Colonial fever was still hot at the turn of the twentieth century. Sometimes it takes a deadly military campaign to realize some places are better left alone. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

Todays stamp features a bird of paradise that is native to the tropical island. Still a common vision on todays successor Papua stamps. The bloody price paid by outsiders for the presence on New Guinea means that the draw is no longer as great.

Todays stamp is issue A32, a 3 Penny stamp issued by the territory of New Guinea in 1932 while the area was under a League of Nations mandate to Australia. It was part of a 15 stamp issue in various denominations issued over many years. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $1.25 used.

The northeastern part of the island of New Guinea was first colonized by the Germans. This caused some consternation in the then still British colonies on Australia. They were concerned about the sea trade lanes and just the presence of a potentially hostile  power. In fact the colony of Queensland tried to formally annex German New Guinea. This was quickly resinded by the British foreign office who had no interest in the expense of starting a colony and no wish to comfront Germany. Germany formed a private company to exploit  the territory and tried to set up rubber plantations. This did not go well as without slavery it was nearly impossible to get Guineans to work. The Germans tried to demand labor in order to pay taxes that required cash to pay but results were poor and rebellions frequent. Chinese or Indians were not brought in as would have happened in a British colony. At the beginning of World War I, Australian troops landed and got rid of the Germans with hardly a fight.

Post war, the Australians strongly argued for continued presence in New Guinea as an outside Australia line of defense. Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes said that strategically the northern island encompass Australia like fortresses and are as necessary to Australia as is water to a city. The League of Nations awarded the mandate to Australia in 1921. At this point it was administered separately from Papua to the south.

The fortress aspect came true during World War II.  The Japanese landed and were able to establish a foot hold at Rabaul the capital but the Australians were able to hold on to Port Moresby to the south. From Rabaul, Japan was able to bomb Darwin and if they possessed larger bombers more of Australia would have been subject to bombing. What followed was a bloody three year campaign to dislodge the Japanese and caused the death of 7000 Australian soldiers, 7000 Americans and 30,000 Japanese. The Guineans/Papuans themselves played no part in the fighting although Australians made propaganda of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels that assisted Australians and allowed them to imply they had native support. No doubt Imperial Japan would never imply they require the services of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels or Devils for that matter.

A wounded Australian soldier being assisted a New Guinean native, a Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel in 1942

After the war came a new UN mandate and new joint administration with Papua. The expense of fortresses on New Guinea was deemed too expensive and Australias forward defense post war would be handled by long range bombers, aircraft carriers and the ANZUS alliance. Papua New Guinea was set on course to independence which was achieved in the 1970s. The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels are no longer considered so angelic as they have soaked up much Australian foreign aid that was mostly squandered.

Well my drink is empty and I may have a few more while I consider the plight of New Guinea. Another place where the colonizers should have left well enough alone. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Peru 1936, the latifundistas prevent a shining path to the future

Peru, like so many other Latin American countries still had a feudal style society well into the twentieth century. With the growth of national universities, there came a batch of new leaders, the connected’s children in reality, that sought to speak for the mass of indigenous and overturn the applecart. In Peru, this urge was defeated. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The top of the feudalist system have things very well. Put in place under colonial times, but then feeling disconnected and even taken advantage of by their distant mother country. The elite elect to break free and go it alone. If you look at the stamps of the Peru of the time all you see is colonial architecture and people serving in puissant armies dressed with more flash than any Nazi. It is no wonder that the new generations chafed in the grandiosity that so lacked achievement.

Todays stamp is issue A 15 Centimos stamp issued by the republic of Peru in 1936. It displays the Avenue of the Republic, a grand boulevard laid out before the republic in colonial era Lima. It was part of an 18 stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 30 cents used.

What to do with the sons after the first is always an issue in feudal societies. The first son will inherit the estate that cannot be divided and daughters are useful to marry off for gain. The traditional answer was the Church or the army for the superfluous sons. Latin America after independence had chosen to subdivide into many weak nation states. Part of being a nation state was having a new university in the capital. The education combined with a precarious career track is why often the university becomes a hotbed of activism for change from these resentful, superfluous sons.

Peru was incredibly unstable. During 1931, there were 5 Presidents. There were deadly rivalries but all the leaders came from the large landowner class, the latifundistas. Outside looking in were the products of the University of Peru. These people had developed ideas of bringing in socialism that would raise the status of the masses of peasants whose toil supported the current system. This support for the lower classes was mainly theoretical, the movements being controlled by those with much more Spanish blood than found in the mass of peasants.

The left wing movement coming out of the university had two perhaps unlikely leaders. who as with Peruvian tradition were initially allies then later bitter rivals. Victor Haya de la Torre was a homosexual leftist who tried to expand the University to offer more opportunities to peasants  and then used his notoriety to form  a populist political party. Jose Mariategui was more a docturnal communist  that traveled extensively in Italy and Austria making connections to local fellow political travelers. He was more the intellectual and his works tried to show a new “shining path to Peru’s future.” This future was communist, but he insisted not based on European models but based on Peruvian indigenous traditions. That must have been why he spent so much time in Europe. He was not a politician from central casting. He was quite short and handicapped by a amputated leg.

Jose Mariategui

Peru was a republic in theory and as such there were elections from time to time. Usually there was no clear winner, with more room for intrigue. The movements started by the would be politicians above sometimes even won the elections. That does not mean that they were allowed to serve. There was always jail and exile, something both leaders did have experience with. The feudal system was not going to yield without a fight. In 1979, Haya de la Torre was actually allowed to take office as President after 6 decades in politics. By then he was on his deathbed but he had time to sign a new constitution, that did not do much for the economy but at least got the army out of the government.

Victor Haya de la Torre late in life

Well my drink is empty and I will pour another to toast the indigenous peasant class in Peru. Perhaps at some point someone will inquire as to their thoughts on how the country is to be governed. Crazy talk, I know. Come again tomorrow for another story to be learned from stamp collecting.

Belgium 1955, remembering the night an opera lead to revolution 125 years before

The USA had a tea party and Belgium has a night at the opera. Sometimes something stirs and the people realize it is time to separate. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The image on the stamp is taken from a well known painting by Charles Soubre. The painting depicts revolutionary leader Charles Rogier leading 300 volunteers from the city of Liege to fight in the uprising against the Dutch in Brussels in 1830. So many years later, it seems surprising to use such an image. It makes the undertaking appear heroic. The history of the Belgian government is that it is not afraid to get tough with for example labor agitators who disturb the peace. Perhaps there is a conflict there. Belgium took a different tact on the 150th anniversary in 1980, with stamps showing the Opera house and the then new King of Belgium.

The stamp today is issue A119, a 20 Centimes stamp issued by Belgium on September 10th, 1955. This was a two stamp issue the celebrated an exhibition in Liege on the romantic movement of the volunteers to Brussels 125 years before during the uprising against Dutch rule. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents.

Until the late 18th century, much of modern day Belgium was a part of the Catholic Hapsburg Holy Roman Empire. The revolutions spreading from France and Napoleon’s army put an end to that. The majority of the people in the area were French speaking so this made some sense. After Napoleon’s final defeat, the peace conference awarded the area to the Netherlands. This was at the suggestion of Britain who wanted a large strong Netherlands as a counterweight to France and to repay Netherlands for colonies in Asia taken from the Netherlands during Napoleon’s occupation that were not getting returned. Forget Ceylon, how about Belgium? Strange but true. Netherlands, now United Netherlands was Protestant and spoke Dutch, a Germanic language. Thus there was tension and the Belgian people, especially the French speakers did not feel represented by the new situation.

In 1830, there was an opera put on in Brussels that depicted romantically Neapolitans rising up against the Spanish masters. The audience was moved and filed out of the theatre joining riots against Dutch rule. At the same time Frenchman Charles Rogier was leading his volunteers from Liege to join the uprising. Not realizing that if he has lost the opera fans it is over, the King of the Netherlands sent two of his sons to Brussels to deal with it. The first son offered negotiations but the best deal to be had  was not something his father would agree to. The next Prince lead the army in to reestablish control over Brussels. His army’s ranks had been greatly thinned by desertions of ethnic Belgians and was not strong enough to end the uprising.

Holland than turned to Great Britain to try to settle the issue. Disappointing the Netherlands, the British proposed a separate Belgium kingdom ruled by a King who was closely related to the British royal family but also acceptable to France. The revolutionary leader, and now former Frenchman Charles Rogier severed several terms as Prime Minister. Since 1830, Dutch speakers in Belgium are the ones who feel less than fully represented by the government.

Well my drink is empty and I will pour another to toast French tenor Adolphe Nourrit, whose romantic, patriotic singing so stirred the Brussels’ crowd. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Germany 2003, remembering the Porsche 356B 40 years later

I am generally more impressed with stamp issues that promise a better future than remember a great past. With an achievement like the Porsche 356, why not take the time to remember, especially when the remembrance supports a good cause. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

With a new stamp from an old car comes the question of how to photograph it. Period photos from advertising? No you are remembering a car, not trying to sell it. A modern photo of a classic car? No, an old car in great condition is probably more about the owner than the car itself. Germany decided to use a series of car drawings of the type a car identification book for children might have, even with some quick stats. This is a great idea as there were more kids dreaming about Porsches than adults driving them.

Todays stamp is issue SP434, a 55 +25 semi postal stamp issued by Germany on October 9th, 2003. This was an 8 stamp issue that remembered important cars from Germany’s past. All cars were post war and a few were even East German. The 25 cent surcharge benefited something called the Federal Working Party on Independent Welfare. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth $1.90 whether it is mint or used.

The Porsche 356 was a post war development of the pre war Volkswagen Beetle. The car had a smaller, lighter body and had engines that were uprated over their state of tune in Beetles. The car used the independent swing axle suspension of the Beetle but over time upgraded it to cope with more power. Initial thoughts of aluminum bodywork were deleted to keep expenses down. The car was still quite expensive costing a little more than an American Corvette with 3 times the power and 40 percent more weight. The British Austin Healy 3000 split the difference with less power, weight  and expense than the Corvette, but more weight and power than the Porsche.

What all three of these cars did well was demonstrate the 3 countries different approaches to going fast. To Germany, it was important to keep light so only as much power as could be gotten out of the light Beetle engine. In this period of the 356 in the early 60s, that power was as much as 3 times what the Beetle had. The Corvette was bigger with the engine out of big, powerful American cars. The American car was far faster and more stable, but the light Porsche could catch up in the turns where its agility, rear engine traction and independent, if dangerous suspension helping. The Corvette in this period sold better with about 25 percent more volume despite a fewer percentage exported than the 356. The Austin Healy sold less still despite it’s lower price but did achieve many exports. One thing the three cars had in common was souped up sedan engines rather than specially designed engines for sports cars. It kept prices down.

The 356 was made from 1949- 1965. The B model shown on the stamp had larger window and changes in the floorplan to add room. The C model came along in 1963 adding disc brakes. Over time the car gained a few hundred pounds as more equipment was added. The 356 was replaced in 1965 with the Porsche 911 that attacked the problem of higher weight by adding a six cylinder overhead camshaft engine still in the back. Weight was up 30% over the early 356 but power more than doubled. Prices also went up but for a few years a 912 version sold with the 356 engine at only a slightly higher price.

Well my drink is empty and I will pour another to toast the German attitude toward speed. The idea now seems to be that all cars must now be built to a world standard so it matters less where a car comes from. I preferred it when the cars better reflected the attitudes of where they were from. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Straits Settlements 1912, Trying to keep Singapore British, when the people are Chinese, Malay, and Indian

Singapore is today a prosperous, multiracial trading city with very few British. This was true right from the beginning, when it was founded by the British. Showing how important a one percent can be. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

A British colonial stamp with the King, in this case George V, a denomination, and the particular colonies name. These stamps were standard designs printed by De La Rue in Great Britain with a place on the stamp set aside for the colonies name. They almost always had the British Monarch, showing that they were mainly for the use of the British one percent. Now an important reminder of how such a place started.

The stamp today is issue A24, a 5 cent stamp issued by the Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements in 1912. It was a 19 stamp issue in various denominations with the high ones mainly to pay taxes and the lower values for postage. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $1.10 used.

The settlement at Singapore, that was the crown jewel of the Straits Settlements, was founded by Stanford Raffles in 1819 at the tip of the Malay peninsula. Tribute was paid and protection promised to the local Malayans. He was in the employ of the British East India Company and the area was a division of the then Presidency of Bengal. The area was divided between the British in Malaysia and Northern Borneo and the Dutch to the south. At the time the British East India Company had a monopoly on the China trade and the Singapore trading station was central to that. From the earliest days, Chinese flooded in seeking a better life. They were over 90 percent male, China did not allow females to emigrate legally. The hope was to make it big and go back to China but most ended up staying and heavily involved with Tong Societies for female companionship and other illicit comforts. Indians also flooded in, but many were there as prisoners. It was a fairly volatile mix with only one percent of the colony British.

The colony grew rapidly but was garrisoned mostly by units of the British Indian Army. After an Indian mutiny in 1867 spread to Singapore, the area petitioned to the British parliament to become a formal British colony. The currency was changed from the official Rupee to a dollar tied to the value of the Spanish dollar that was already the currency of commerce. The British kept the ethnicities in separate neighborhoods and tried to ban the Chinese Tongs to get a handle on the worst of the Chinese coolie trade and the rampant sex trafficking. This was less than successful but the city was still growing fast.

It still had the problem of being manly garrisoned by Indians. A local volunteer force was tiny and only one third coming from the majority Chinese population. The Indians mutinied again in 1916 and were put down. When the Japanese invaded Malaya in 1941 the British commanded forces greatly outnumbered the Japanese. Most of the troops were Indians who for the most part did not fight. The same was true of the local volunteer forces. The few British and Australians were relying greatly on their Navy and Air Force but the Japanese Air Force sank several British ships and shot down most of their airplanes. Churchill ordered Singapore defended till the end but while the final perimeter in Singapore was holding there was not enough food and water to feed the vast mostly Chinese population that was present, mostly male but taking no part of the defense. The local British General surrendered citing their welfare and Churchill described the fall as Britain’s greatest military calamity. The horrid treatment of British prisoners meant many still paid with their lives for Singapore after surrender. Asian captives were given the opportunity to serve Japan.

After the war the Straits Settlements Colony was disbanded with Singapore becoming it’s own colony. With little loyalty to Britain or Malaya, self government was allowed. Independence saw the new Malaysia attempt to claim Singapore but it broke away a year later. Many of the structures of the British were retained and the place as never stopped growing. Today the still majority Chinese country has a GNP per capita 40% higher than Great Britain. It is over 6 times that of China, 5 times that of Malaysia, and 30 times that of India. This year is the bicentennial of the founding of Singapore by Stanford Raffles. We will see if his memory receives it’s due.

Well my drink is empty and I will pour another to toast the one percent of Singapore that made possible the great success of the other 99 percent. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

North Borneo Company 1922, A British Chinese Hong company comes to Borneo to persevere and achieve

These empire builders are not looked back on well, but you have to admire their confidence in themselves. 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. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

Todays stamp was not issued by a country or even a colony, but rather a private company that had acquired a territory to develop or exploit it depending on your point of view. Either way a prime function was to maximize revenue. Postage stamps were a part of that with many more printed for collectors than were needed for postage. The themes were usually topical with views of exotic animals and fauna as the printers imagined them to be in London. Companies like this are long gone but farmed out topicals remain, now printed in China where companies that exist to develop and exploit poor areas of the world are reemerging. History repeats.

Todays stamp is issue A54, a four cent stamp issued by the North Borneo Chartered Company in 1909. It was part of a 14 stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 30 cents used.

The area of North Borneo was previously under the control of the Sultan of Brunei. Alfred Dent, an Englishman, was involved in an important family business in the far east that operated as a trading firm called a Hong. It operated in Hong Kong and Shanghai and Mr. Dent was also involved in The Shanghai power company, tea plantations in Ceylon, and the conversion of the Indian Rupee from a silver standard to a gold standard. Sounds like he had a full plate but he desired to do more directly. At the time, the Sultan of Brunei was selling off large pieces of Borneo. Unfortunately he often sold the same piece of land several times over. Dent after several years of negotiations but was able to acquire North Borneo and have a publicly traded, British Royal Charted Company in charge. He bought it in exchange for 15,000 Spanish Gold Dollar coins. The coins were about .2 ounces of gold so worth $250 in todays money, a little less than 4 million dollars. Dent composed the motto for the colony as “I persevere, I achieve.”

Alfred Dent

The shareholder back in England where demanding short term dividends more than long term achievement and therefore Mr. Dent fell short of his goal. There was mining and some agriculture but the area proved expensive to operate. By the 1880s slavery was banned and so the company spent more effort stamping it out among locals that exploiting it for profit. The native tribesman also were difficult to coax to work for western enterprises and the few that did were punished by heavy taxation. The company had to import Sikh policeman from India to police tribal disputes. One Tribal leader named Antanum was on the outs with the company and lead a rebellion. He convinced enough natives of his magical powers and succeeded in overrunning several company outposts. The British Army had to be called in to arrest the tribesmen and Antanum was executed.

The area fell to the Japanese in World War II and the company had no resources to get the operation going again post war. In exchange for a token payment to cover old debts, the area was combined with the island of Labuan and became a British Colony. It passed on to Malaysia in 1963. The need of dividends for investors meant there was never enough reinvestment to persevere and achieve as much as Mr. Dent would have liked. Yet whether you speak of the jungle railroad in Borneo, the electricity in Shanghai, the tea in Sri lanka, or the value of the Rupee in India, a lot of things are around today because of Mr. Dent’s perseverance. It will surprise no one that it is Antanum that has the statue in todays Malaysia.

Antanum statue in Tenom, Malaysia

Well my drink is empty and I will pour another to toast the Sultan of Brunei. By trading off land he was able to continue until oil was discovered by others and he became one of the richest people in the world. I prefer “I persevere and I achieve” to I hang around and then take advantage, but results do speak loudly. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.