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Obliterators & Cancellations

British Consulate SealFour BarsChessboardCDS
Br Consulate Seal4 BarsChessboardCDS
EarliestSept 18798 Nov 1882Jan 188321 June 1883
LatestSept 188210 Dec 1882April 188329 June 1885

Modified # Title
2021 November 15002Covers with one and others with two CDSs?
2021 August 23 001 Why didn’t the British P.O. use its CDS to cancel mail?

002 - Covers with one and others with two CDSs?

A recent study of the covers in the database reveled the following previously unrecognized occurrences.

From the records:

  • 1884 August 24 Postmaster Henry Arthur Gardner died at Bangkok.
  • 1885 February 5 a meeting of the foreign community was held to discuss Temporary Postal Arrangements seeing that Mr. Edlefsen would soon cease being employed as Constable at the British Consulate. There would be no change as to the location of the Post Office. Mr. Edlefsen’s replacement as Constable was expected in a few days.


There must have been a temporary person handling the mails between at least from 25 August 1884 to at least 5 February 1885. That is a period of five and a half months.

002-P256.jpg 002-P307.jpg

                                 Cover with a singel CDS                                                  Cover with two CDSs

In the data base of covers there are 42 covers cancelled with a BANGKOK CDS.

The earliest cover with the CDS is 21 June 1883.

Up to the passing of Mr. Gardiner on 25 August 1884 there are 26 covers cancelled with a single CDS. From then onwards of the 16 covers cancelled with the CDS, 12 have two strikes, one on the stamp(s) and one in a clear part of the cover. In that period the earlies two covers and two newspaper wrappers are cancelled only with one CDS.

Did someone at the Consulate or possibly the Post Office at Singapore issue an order to change how covers were cancelled? We may never know.

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001 - Why didn’t the British P.O. use its CDS to cancel mail?

Siam PSC

The Siamese Postal Stationery Card shown above sparked the question: “Why did not the Consulate Post Office cancel its stamp?" Instead, it was cancelled in Singapore by the dateless obliterator.

These Siamese PSCs were valid only in Siam since Siam was not yet a member of the Universal Postal Union. Here the sender used the PSC to deliver it to the Consulate Post Office and attached a Bangkok “B” stamp to carry it overseas.

Bangkok CDS   Singapore Obliterator

Bangkok Circular Date Stamp (CDS)

No official record has surfaced that indicates when the Bangkok CDS came into service. Therefore, an approximation must be made from dated covers and CDS.

The first shipment of “B” overprinted stamps was sent on 15 April 1882. I have not seen a single loose “B” overprinted stamp used in 1882 with a CDS. The earliest known CDS is on a cover to Hamburg dated 21 June 1883.

Fifty-two covers are known mailed between 21 June 1883 and 12 June 1885. Of these 9 are cancelled by the Singapore dateless obliterator the remaining 43 received the Bangkok CDS.

So why not cancelled at Bangkok?

Mail was collected at Bangkok and sent to the Post Office at Singapore where it would enter the system. If an item was not cancelled,  the clerk in Singapore would apply the Singapore cancellation.

The only indication as to the volume of mail is from the summary of the meeting to discuss temporary postal arrangements held on 5 February 1885. The data presented by the postmaster shows that in the year 1884, about 11,000 letters were dispatched plus about 2,500 newspapers. So, it is entirely possible that letters, especially if they arrived when the mail was being closed, would be placed in the bag uncancelled knowing that they would be cancelled in Singapore.

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