Rare envelope to go under hammer

IPSWICH: It cost only the equivalent of a few pennies to send to Ipswich from the Far East but now more than 100 years later this rare envelope is set to fetch up to �400 at an auction in Singapore.

The envelope – addressed to William Bradbury Esq of Cliff Grange, Constable Road, Ipswich – was posted from the island of Labuan, now part of Malaysia, on June 26, 1907.

It is marked ‘On His Majesty’s Service’ (King Edward VII was then on the throne) and it is registered. It also features Straits Settlements stamps, which are sought-after particularly by Asian collectors, and it is these three details which make the Ipswich envelope so valuable.

Nicholas Startup, a stamps expert at London auctioneers Spink, said: “It is an attractive envelope and the three details – official envelope, registered and Straits Settlements stamps – are a desirable combination.”

The envelope, with four cents and ten cents Straits Settlements stamps on the front and two 25cents Straits Settlements stamps on the back, was posted from Labuan in 1907 – before the introduction of air mail. The envelope made its tortuous 6,000mile journey by ship and train to Ipswich, via Singapore, across the Indian Ocean, up the Red Sea, across the Mediterranean and then possibly over to Southampton, before travelling on to Ipswich, probably by train.

Now 104 years later the Ipswich envelope – which has survived two World Wars – has ping-ponged back to the Far East where, at a Spink auction at the Hilton Hotel, Singapore, on Sunday, September 25, it is expected to fetch between 600 and 800 Singapore dollars, roughly �300 to �400.