Alternative Burma

British rule in Burma lasted from 1824 to 1948, from the Anglo-Burmese wars through the creation of Burma as a Province of British India to the establishment of an independently administered colony, and finally independence.

After the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885, Upper Burma was annexed, and the following year, the province of Burma in British India was created, becoming a major province (a Lieutenant-Governorship) in 1897. This arrangement lasted until 1937, when Burma began to be administered separately by the Burma Office under the Secretary of State for India and Burma. Burma achieved independence from British rule on 4 January 1948.

Burma is sometimes referred to as “the Scottish Colony”, due to the heavy role played by Scotsmen in colonizing and running the country, one of the most notable being Sir James Scott (25 December 1851 – 4 April 1935), and the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company.

In 2005 Gerald King started producing a series of Cinderellas covering the full philatelic history of Burma from 1886 to the coronation of George VI in 1937. Coming across an India King George V “specimen” essay, Gerald was, in his words, “struck by the fact that it would have suited Burma very well. A full philatelic pre-history for Burma followed.

The designs use elements of actual essays and also utilize the designs of actual stamps. All the stamps were produced in low numbers (at most 20 sets of each exist).

The stamps are gummed by gum arabic. All stamps are perforated (perf. 11 to 11.5) and without watermark. The backs are unmarked.

The alternative catalogue of Burma comprises a huge range of fantastic Cinderellas.


1886. Queen Victoria definitives (Stamps & Proofs)

8 stamps in small format with values from 1/4 Anna to 8 Annas and 4 stamps in larger format with values from 1 Rupee to 5 Rupees.

Shades exist of the 1/4 Anna, 2 Annas, 4 Annas and 6 Annas.

Printed by Vandasmagurriyah Printing Co.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1886 Burma Postage

Alternative Burma – 1886 Burma Postage Stamps

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1886 Burma Postage - Proofs for Anna values

Alternative Burma – 1886 Burma Postage – Proofs for Anna values

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1886 Burma Postage - Color Proofs for Rupee values

Alternative Burma – 1886 Burma Postage – Color Proofs for Rupee values

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1886 Burma Postage - B&W Proofs for Rupee values

Alternative Burma – 1886 Burma Postage – B&W Proofs for Rupee values


1897. Postcard commemorating Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

On Sunday 20 June, 1897, the longest-reigning British monarch, Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee Accession Day at Windsor Castle marking 60 years of her reign. The postcard is signed on the backside by the designer (Gerald King).

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1897 Postcard - Commemorating Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee

Alternative Burma – 1897 Postcard – Commemorating Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee


1898. Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (Stamps & Proofs)

The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (IFC) was a passenger and cargo ferry company, which operated services on the Irrawaddy River in Burma, now Myanmar. The IFC was Scottish-owned, and was managed by P Henderson & Company from Glasgow. The IFC operated from 1865 until the late 1940’s. At its peak in the late 1920’s, the IFC fleet was the largest fleet of river boats in the world, consisting of over 600 vessels carrying some 8-9 million passengers and 1¼ million tons of cargo a year.

Conveyance Labels. 6 stamps with values from 1 Anna to 1 Rupee:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1898 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company

Alternative Burma – 1898 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (Stamps)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1898 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company - Individually Signed Proofs

Alternative Burma – 1898 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company – Individually Signed Proofs

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1898 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company - Signed Proof Sheet 1

Alternative Burma – 1898 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company – Signed Proof Sheet 1 (Signed on the back)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1898 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company - Signed Proof Sheet 2

Alternative Burma – 1898 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company – Signed Proof Sheet 2


1898. Letter to Colonel Pickering in Rangoon from Mandalay (Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, conveyance labels)

The 3 covers shown below are addressed to Colonel Pickering.

Colonel Pickering is the linguist friend of Henry Higgins who sprang to fame in Pygmalion. Pygmalion, written in 1912 by George Bernard Shaw and first performed two years later, tells the story of Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics (speech), who bets his friend that he can pass off a poor flower girl with a Cockney accent as a duchess by teaching her to speak with an upper class accent. Colonel Pickering is the closest thing Pygmalion has to a father figure. He’s a genial old chap, an expert in Sanskrit, and an all-around nice guy.  Colonel Pickering also appears in Shaw’s “My Fair Lady”,

Shaw also wrote the Academy Award-winning screenplay for the 1938 film version, making him the only person ever to win both an Oscar and the Nobel Prize in Literature. Pretty good for a play about a grouchy professor and a poor flower girl, no?

The violet oval “cancellation” reads “I.F.C. / Mandalay” and is dated 21. August 1908.

Cover 1:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1908 Cover - Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Front)

Alternative Burma – 1898 Cover (dated 1908) – To Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Front)

The reverse is stamped in Burmese with the words “Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay, Can’t you ‘ear em paddles chunkin’, From Rangoon to Mandalay”…

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1908 Cover - Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Back)

Alternative Burma – 1898 Cover (dated 1908) – Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Back)

Cover 2:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1898. Cover 2 - Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Front)

Alternative Burma – 1898. Cover 2 – Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Front)

The reverse is stamped with the words “Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay, Can’t you ‘ear em paddles chunkin’, From Rangoon to Mandalay”…

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1898. Cover 2 - Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Back)

Alternative Burma – 1898. Cover 2 – Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Back)

Cover 3:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1898. Cover 3 - Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Front)

Alternative Burma – 1898. Cover 3 – Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Front)

The reverse is stamped with the words “Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay, Can’t you ‘ear em paddles chunkin’, From Rangoon to Mandalay”…

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1898. Cover 3 - Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Back)

Alternative Burma – 1898. Cover 3 – Colonel Pickering (Irrawaddy) (Back)


1903. King Edward VII definitives (Stamps & Proofs)

8 stamps in small format with values from 1/4 Anna to 8 Annas. 5 stamps in large format with values from 1 Rupee to 10 Rupees. 2 different shades of the 1/2 Anna and the 8 Annas are known to exist. Below are stamps and proofs shown.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1903. King Edward VII definitives - Anna values

Alternative Burma – 1903. King Edward VII definitives – Anna values (Stamps)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1903. King Edward VII definitives - Rupee values

Alternative Burma – 1903. King Edward VII definitives – Rupee values (Stamps)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1903. King Edward VII definitives - Proofs - Anna values

Alternative Burma – 1903. King Edward VII definitives – Proofs – Anna values

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1903. King Edward VII definitives - Color Proofs - Rupee values

Alternative Burma – 1903. King Edward VII definitives – Color Proofs – Rupee values

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1903. King Edward VII definitives - B&W Proofs - Rupee values

Alternative Burma – 1903. King Edward VII definitives – B&W Proofs – Rupee values

The picture below shows two oversized essays of the 3 Annas stamps in black with different shades of grey-green around the oval of the frame.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1903. King Edward VII definitives - Oversized essays of the 3 Annas

Alternative Burma – 1903. King Edward VII definitives – Oversized essays of the 3 Annas

Some (all?) of the Anna values stamps also exist as a vertical pair imperforate between. An example of this is shown below:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1903. King Edward VII definitives - Vertical pair imperforate between

Alternative Burma – 1903. King Edward VII definitives – Vertical pair imperforate between


1908 and 1928. Postage Due (Stamps & Proofs)

There are 6 stamps for the 1908’s set and 6 stamps for the 1928’s set. The stamps have values from 1 Anna to 8 Annas. The designs are the same for both issues but the 1908 issue is on thick laid cream paper and the 1928 issue is on thin white wove paper.

Below are the 1928 stamps shown:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1928 Burma Postage Due

Alternative Burma – 1928 Burma Postage Due

Both the set for 1908 and the set for 1928 exist as a se tenant proof set. Below is the proof set for the 1908 stamps.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1908. Burma Postage Due Proof set

Alternative Burma – 1908. Burma Postage Due Proof set


 1912. King George V definitives (Stamps & Proofs)

12 stamps in small format with values from 1/4 Anna to 12 Annas (including 4 different colour variations of the 4 Annas). 6 stamps in large format with values from 1 Rupee to 25 Rupees.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1912. King George V definitives (to 12 Annas)

Alternative Burma – 1912. King George V definitives (to 12 Annas)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1912 King George V definitives (Rupees Values)

Alternative Burma – 1912 King George V definitives (larger formats)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1912. King George V definitives (to 12 Annas) - Proofs

Alternative Burma – 1912. King George V definitives (to 12 Annas) – Proofs

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1912. King George V definitives (Rupees Values) - Proofs

Alternative Burma – 1912. King George V definitives (Rupees Values) – Proofs

I also have some Preliminary Proofs for the stamps. The proofs are without values.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1912. King George V definitives - Preliminary Proofs - No values

Alternative Burma – 1912. King George V definitives – Preliminary Proofs – No values

The 4 Annas stamps also exist as a vertical pair.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1912. King George V definitives (4 Annas) - Vertical pair

Alternative Burma – 1912. King George V definitives (4 Annas) – Vertical pair


1927. King George V airmail (Stamps & Proof)

6 stamps with values from 2 Annas to 12 Annas. The design is a mirror image of the India 1929 issue.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1927 King George V Airmail (Stamps)

Alternative Burma – 1927 King George V Airmail (Stamps)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1927 King George V Airmail (Proof)

Alternative Burma – 1927 King George V Airmail (Proof)


1927. First flight from Rangoon (Airmail) – Covers

First flight from Rangoon to Singapore addressed to Mr. W. Somerset Maugham (William Somerset Maugham, 1874 – 1965).

William Somerset Maugham (25 January 1874 – 16 December 1965) was a British playwright, novelist and short story writer. He was among the most popular writers of his era and reputedly the highest paid author during the 1930’s. He has had more works (98) adapted for film and TV than any other author. His novels chronicled the last days of colonialism.

His Novels are very amusing, a bit cynical, they often ridiculize the High Society and many times they turn around Sommerset’s favorite Hotels. One of these Hotels were the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

Raffles Hotel is a colonial-style luxury hotel in Singapore. It was established by Armenian hoteliers, the Sarkies Brothers, in 1887. The hotel was named after British statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore.

Cover 1:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1927 - Cover 1 - First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Front)

Alternative Burma – 1927 – Cover 1 – First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Front)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1927 - Cover 1- First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Back)

Alternative Burma – 1927 – Cover 1- First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Back)

Cover 2:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1927 - Cover 2 - First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Front)

Alternative Burma – 1927 – Cover 2 – First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Front)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1927 - Cover 2 - First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Back)

Alternative Burma – 1927 – Cover 2 – First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Back)

Cover 3:

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1927 - Cover 3 - First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Front)

Alternative Burma – 1927 – Cover 3 – First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Front)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1927 - Cover 3 - First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Back)

Alternative Burma – 1927 – Cover 3 – First flight from Rangoon (Air Mail) (Back)


1930. King George V pictorials (Stamps & Proofs)

14 stamps with values from 1/2 Anna to 25 Rupees.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1930 King George V pictorials (to 12 Annas)

Alternative Burma – 1930 King George V pictorials (to 12 Annas)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1930 King George V pictorials (Rupee Values)

Alternative Burma – 1930 King George V pictorials (Rupee Values)

1/2 Anna – Ox-cart 1 Anna – Rangoon regatta 2 Annas – Walkway, Inle Lake
3 Annas – Elephants 4 Annas – Buddha images, Sagaing 6 Annas – Burmese princess
8 Annas – Irrawaddy cargo boat 12 Annas – Hornbill
1 Rupee – Whirlpool, Zawgyi 2 Rupees – Tiger attacking elephant 5 Rupees – Tiger
10 Rupees – Mingalar Temple 15 Rupees – Thayetmyo river scene 25 Rupees – Bridge on the River Kwai
Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1930. King George V pictorials (to 12 Annas) - Proofs

Alternative Burma – 1930. King George V pictorials (to 12 Annas) – Proofs

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1930. King George V pictorials (Rupee Values) - Proofs

Alternative Burma – 1930. King George V pictorials (Rupee Values) – Proofs


1935. King George V Silver Jubilee (Stamps & Proofs)

4 stamps with values from 1 Anna to 1 Rupee. The omnibus key-type, as also used by Mr. King for his Lundy Silver Jubilees, but inscribed “Burma”.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1935 Silver Jubilee Set

Alternative Burma – 1935 Silver Jubilee Set (Stamps)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1935. Silver Jubilee Set - Proofs

Alternative Burma – 1935. Silver Jubilee Set – Proofs


1936. King Edward VIII definitives

There are 8 different stamps in small format with values from 1/2 Anna to 8 Annas. 6 stamps in larger format with values from 1 Rupee to 25 Rupees. These are only known as imperforate “essays” and the design is taken from a Nasik King Edward VIII essay for India.

The stamps were prepared for use but never issued.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1936 King Edward VIII (14 signed proofs) (Picture 1 of 2)

Alternative Burma – 1936 King Edward VIII (14 signed proofs) (Picture 1 of 2)

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1936 King Edward VIII (14 signed proofs) (Picture 2 of 2)

Alternative Burma – 1936 King Edward VIII (14 signed proofs) (Picture 2 of 2)


1937. King George VI Coronation (Stamps & Proofs)

King George VI (14 December 1895 – 6 February 1952) was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death. He was the last British Emperor of India (from 11 December 1936 to 22 June 1948) and the first Head of the Commonwealth.

The coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth as King and Queen of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth and as Emperor and Empress of India took place at Westminster Abbey, London, on 12 May 1937.

There are 3 stamps with values from 1 Anna to 3 1/2 Annas in the set. The omnibus key-type, inscribed “Burma”.

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1937 King George VI Coronation

Alternative Burma – 1937 King George VI Coronation

Gerald King - Alternative Burma - 1937. King George VI Coronation - Proofs

Alternative Burma – 1937. King George VI Coronation – Proofs

 

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