By Janet Klug
The nation known today as Indonesia began its stamp-issuing activities in 1864. The country at that time was the colony Netherlands Indies, and its first issue was an imperforate 10¢ King Willem III stamp (Scott 1) shown in Figure 1.
The Dutch were drawn to the land by its agricultural production, with sugar, coffee, tea, rice and indigo among its lucrative cash crops. The colony consisted of 2,000 islands including Sumatra, Java and a large chunk of Borneo, populated by Malayo-Polynesians, Javanese, Chinese, Melanesians and Europeans.
The colony issued many attractive stamps including semipostals, airmails and marine insurance stamps. Figure 2 shows a 1-gulden Airplane Pilot airmail stamp (Scott C13), issued in 1931 for the first airmail flight from Java to Australia. A nationalist movement began seeking independence as early as 1918.
In January 1942, the Netherlands Indies, like most of Southeast Asia, was conquered and occupied by Japan. A variety of Japanese occupation stamps were issued during World War II. A 40-sen Sacred Dancer of Djokja Palace and Borobudur occupation stamp (Scott N9) is shown in Figure 3.
During the occupation, different overprints were applied to captured stocks of Netherlands Indies stamps. These overprinted stamps, produced and used locally, are not listed in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, but they are interesting to collect and help complete the story of the forming of Indonesia. One locally overprinted stamp produced by Japanese naval authorities is shown in Figure 4.
Japan surrendered unconditionally to the Allied powers in August 1945. On Aug. 17, 1945, the former Netherlands Indies, led by Karno Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, declared its independence as the nation of Indonesia.
But it wasn't as simple as that. Dutch forces tried to re-establish control of the colony and guerrilla warfare broke out, with hostilities lasting until December 1949.
The nationalist authorities overprinted old colonial stamps and issued new stamps locally. These are listed in the Scott standard catalog at the beginning of the Indonesia listings as local issues with catalog numbers prefixed by the letter L. An 80s Pilot local stamp (Scott 1L39) issued in 1946 is shown in Figure 5.
The nationalist authorities also ordered new stamps inscribed "Repoeblik Indonesia" or "Republik Indonesia," printed by the Austrian State Printing Office in Vienna. Known as the Vienna issues, these stamps were first listed by the Scott standard catalog in the 2008 edition. A 5-rupiah Vienna issue, the Military Officer with Flag stamp (Scott 51), is shown in Figure 6.
Prodded by the United Nations and the United States, the Netherlands transferred sovereign rights to the new independent Indonesia. Sukarno was its president and Hatta its prime minister.
In January 1950, new stamps were issued inscribed Republik Indonesia Serikat or "RIS" (United States of Indonesia). A 15s Mountain, Palms and Flag of Republic stamp (Scott 333) issued Jan. 17, 1950, is shown in Figure 7.
The federal form of government was quickly replaced by a government with strong centralized control under Sukarno in August 1950. This led to new stamps inscribed "Republik Indonesia." A 50s Arms of the Republic stamp (Scott 359) is shown in Figure 8.
But there was still political unrest in Indonesia. Netherlands New Guinea, comprising the western half of the island of New Guinea, was claimed by Indonesia but was not a part of the independence deal agreed to by the Netherlands. In 1954, Indonesia broke off diplomatic relations with the Netherlands and confiscated property owned by the Dutch who had remained in Indonesia.
Eventually, the Netherlands transferred Netherlands New Guinea to the United Nations, which administered it briefly prior to turning it over to Indonesia in 1963. During 1962-63 the territory, called West Irian, used colonial stamps overprinted "UNTEA." The acronym stands for United Nations Temporary Executive Authority. These stamps are listed in the Scott standard catalog among the United Nations listings in Vol. 1, and in Vol. 3 under Indonesia. An overprinted 1¢ Netherlands New Guinea Bird of Paradise stamp (Scott 1a) is shown in Figure 9.
West Irian was incorporated into Indonesia in 1963, but Indonesia continued to issue special stamps for use there as late as 1970. As an independent republic, Indonesia has produced many animal, sports and technology topical stamps.
Collecting stamps from Indonesia is an economical choice for budget-minded collectors who want to learn more about this interesting country.
July 30, 2015 08:04 PMIn the Editor’s Insights columns in the July 20 Linn’s Stamp News monthly and the Aug. 10 weekly Linn’s, I mentioned Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board without giving too much detail. Linn’s goal is to engage its audience both in print and online and to grow this audience. The role of the newly formed Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board is to assist us achieving these goals by keeping us focused on the needs of our audience and helping us adapt to today’s market. Read More ›
July 30, 2015 09:01 AMAs in previous years, Rarities Week, the series of sales conducted June 22-26 by Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York, included several name sales as well as an assortment of notable items from around the world. The week kicked off with something of a do-over: a sizable assortment of better United States stamps and covers that had appeared in four previous sales, but whose winning bidder then failed to pay for them. Read More ›
July 23, 2015 04:35 PMThe Tieton, Wash., post office is a simple 1935 cement block building with a slat wood facade. Townsfolk in the agricultural community of 1,200 in central Washington believe the post office could become a landmark, if only the United States Postal Service would allow them to cover the front with a stamp-like mosaic. Read More ›
July 23, 2015 03:11 PMThe American Philatelic Society will host the nation’s largest annual stamp exhibition Aug. 20-23. The show will take place at the DeVos Place Convention Center, 303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, Mich. Read More ›
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz discusses the largest souvenir card produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The card is one of three issued to honor the centenary of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke discusses Canada’s recently recalled $1.20 Dinosaur Provincial Park stamps featuring inaccurately described Hoodoo rock formations.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the discovery of another pane of the intentionally created upright variety of the $2 Jenny Invert stamp.
Chad Snee discusses the recent sale of the glass locket containing the famed 1918 Jenny Invert airmail error stamp.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.