New Hebrides - 1897 - Private Local Post
Australasian New Hebrides Company - Interisland Postage

Burns Philp & Co. Ltd.:
YSABEL Ship Runs to NH

24 July 1897
NSW 1x ½d, 3x 1d, 1x 2d, 1x 2½d = 8d tied with 5x PCH type 1 cancel plus one impression on the letter in conjunction with the 2x 1d and 2x 2d ANHCo stamps tied with 4x PCH type 2 on a registered letter to North Sydney. Both types of cancels carry the 24 July 1897 date. "Registered" written in manuscript, number "R 103" likely to be applied in Sydney. Backstamped Sydney Registered and North Sydney both 13 August 1897.
The cover was carried by the BIRKSGATE of AUSN Co. Ltd. - Burns Philp Co. Ltd. Agent which arrived in Sydney from the New Hebrides on August 12.

The addressee is the Austrian Irene M. J. von Kremer Auenrode (von Kemer Auenrode in the NSW records), who married Percy George Theodore Black in NSW in 1887.

Black was born in London in 1861. He emigrated to Australia in 1883 and worked for B.P. as an accountant, first in Cairns and then in Sydney, from about 1885. From 1887 on he made inspection tours of the B.P. branches. By 1889, Black held the position of inspector of branches and chief accountant in the Company. In 1897 he visited the Tonga Trading Company. Maybe he visited Vila too on this voyage and sent this letter. In 1902, he was promoted to chief inspector, a position he held until 1917, when he was appointed general manager of B.P. and took over the position as manager of the Company's A.U.S.N. Department. (A.U.S.N. = Australian and United Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.) In 1919 he and Lt. James Burns (son of old Sir James) filled the vacuum caused by the death of two directors of Burns, Philp & Co. Ltd. In 1921 he also became a member of the "Bankers and Traders' Insurance Company Limited" first board of directors. He died a few months later in 1922. (Source: K. Buckley and K. Klugman, "The History of Burns Philp", Burns, Philp & Company Limited, 1981 and, from the same authors, "The Australian Presence in the Pacific", Sydney 1983)

To my knowledge, this letter has not been previously described in any publication on New Hebridean postal history, and is the only recorded complete registered cover from the time period when the ANHCo stamps were valid.

Jeff Blinco of Perth contributed the following thoughts on the amount of postage on this cover:

"I think it is triple overweight.
NSW: 2½d postage, 2½d registration, 3 x 1d triple over weight. = 8d
ANHCo: 1d postage, 2d registration, 3d triple overweight = 6d

The cover was found in a carton of philatelic bits and pieces (covers, cards, stamps on and off paper, etc) which belonged to the estate of a man who appears to have been a former B.P. employee.

It was sold at Status International  20 September 2001 199th auction for (including buyer's commission) AU$ 8000!


The Hambly A.N.H.Co. covers


All these 30 Dec covers were carried by the Burns Philp & Co. steamer YSABEL which left Sydney 1897-11-26, departed Port Vila 1 Jan 1898 and returned Sydney 1898-01-11. Definitely this was not ANHCo (Australasian New Hebrides Co.) since they were broke already & BP took over in December 1897. This trip with the Ysabel is the first under the BP flag. Hambly must have had a good sense of postal history. (Info thanks to Jeff Blinco)

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