Banda Neira is the main town on Banda Neira Island in the archipelago of volcanic islands known as the Banda Islands in the Molucca Sea. The islands were known as the Spice Islands and were fought over by the British, the Portuguese, and the Dutch. The Dutch completed their conquest of the Island in 1621, and with that they had secured monopoly of the spice trade, particularly the lucrative trade of nutmeg which at that time grew only on the Banda Islands.

View of Bandanaira by Josias Cornelis Rappard, c. 1885. With Banda Api volcano on the left.

Uprated registered postal stationary sent by the German resident and trader Mr H. Schilling from Banda Neira to Wittenberg in Halle, Germany. The card is dated Banda, Molluccas 5. August 1896 and it transited in Soerabaja 15 August and Weltevreden on the 17th, before it arrived in Wittenberg 15 September 1896.

As always we find the Banda-Neira datestamp applied clearly and centrally to the stamp.

A tribute to the post office staff of Banda Neira!

I know of no other post office in the Netherlands East Indies which applied their datestamp so beautifully to the stamps! Invariably the postmark was applied centrally and upright and with clear strikes. The square-circle postmark of the office must have been well maintained and cleaned daily, I imagine. The postmark is known in one type only in use from 1893 to 1908. Below I show a few examples from my collection.

In Nathanlie's Nutmeg, Giles Milton tells the story of the nutmeg trade in the Banda Islands and the struggle for control of the territory, to which all the major sea-faring nations competed to find the fastest routes. The focus in Milton's book is on the tiny island of Run, by far the most lucrative of the Spice Islands. Run is located 25 km. west of the island of Naira in the Banda Sea.