Town Postmarks 1818 - 1864

Some rarities from my collection

The town postmarks of the prephilatelic period of the Netherlands Indies make a challenging and exciting collecting area. Truly. These postmarks come in all shapes and sizes, usually indicating prepaid (franco) mail or unpaid (ongefrankeerd) mail. Below I show a small selection of some of my favourite pieces from my own exhibition collection. They show the variety of designs, and have been chosen for their rarity and quality. Please take a look at these fine letters. I hope you enjoy!

The red-brown negative-impression postmark of Bencoelen in southwest Sumatra. Letter from 1844 to Samarang. Charged 60 cent for the distance.

Two letters have been recorded with the Ongefrankeerd Bencoelen postmark, both of 1844. The other letter is in the Dutch Postal museum, making mine the only copy in private hands.

One of my favourite Netherlands Indies classic letters. Showing the circular Koedoes postmark with accompanying circular Franco mark. Prepaid letter sent to Samarang. Two letters with this postmark have been recorded, both of 1863.

Framed Toeban postmark in a light-grey colour. The Wolf de Beer catalogue states only one copy known, but I have seen a handful of these, and estimate that about seven have survived. All letters with this postmark seem to be from the same correspondence to Rotterdam.

This letter was sent unpaid in 1856 by the overland route via Marseille. With messy tariff notation which indicates five times the standard rate.

Pekalongan framed postmark in red and Franco mark in black. Prepaid letter sent via the Marseille overland route to Amsterdam. The Pekalongan postmark is not very rare but it is not often seen with the accompanying Franco mark in black.

Poerbolingo Franco Residentie Banjoemaas red oval postmark

The only known copy of this postmark on letter from 1850 to the Resident in Samarang

A wonderful clean strike of the rare framed Postkantoor Te Solok Ongefrankeerd postmark. 

Letter of 1863 from the small post office in Solok to the state orphanage in Padang and struck by the red octagonal Padang on arrival. 

Two letters are known with the oval Resident van Samarang postmark, both date from 1849. 

Letter from July 1849 to the director of the factory of the Netherlands Trading Society in Batavia.

The letter probably had official letter status. No tariff markings have been applied.

A radiant dark-blue oval mark from Iona

Letter dated inside Patti 28 May 1834 to Batavia. The letter was sent unprepaid and was charged 115 cent on arrival.


The Ioana Ongefrankeerd postmark has been recorded only in May 1834. It is one of the rarest town cancellations and no more than five covers with this postmark are documented.

No rare postmarks here, but one of my favourite letters nonetheless! 

Undated lettersheet from Sumanap to Semarang and redirected to Batavia and from here redirected to Rotterdam. Postmarks red Sumanap Ongefrankeerd in red, Samarang Ongefrankeerd in green, and Batavia round cancel in blue 

The tariff calculation shows 55 cent and 65 cent for the distances Sumanap to Samarang and Samarang to Batavia. These have been deleted and replaced by 40 cent for the sea mail route to the Netherlands.

A tiny letter sent from Bagelen to Samarang. Struck by a wonderful crisp red oval mark Ledok Residentie Bagelen Ongefrankeerd.

A rather unattractive empty wrapper with a clean strike of the Ponorogo framed postmark. Sent from the town in east Java to Samarang and charged 24 cent for the distance.

Three letters with this Ponorogo mark have been recorded.

A page from my exhibit, showing the Banjermassing negative-impression postmarks in Ongefrankeerd and Franco varieties. Letters from the same correspondence to Amsterdam.

Letter dated Paya Combo 10 January 1840. The letter was prepaid from Pajacombo to Padang ('franco tot Padang') but unpaid from Padang to Batavia and stamped by the negative Padang Ongefrankeerd postmark. Charged 60 cent from the recipient in Batavia.

A rare example of a partially unpaid letter, where only the initial distance of about 100 km from the sub-post office of Pajacombo to Padang was prepaid.

Postkantoor te Makassar Franco - the rare postmark (no more than ten known) on prepaid letter to Amsterdam sent via Marseille.