16 October 2021

Request for Blue Diamond’s song, postage paid for by UNTEA stamps

The last part of the former Dutch East Indies to be “lost” (as many older Dutch people thought at the time) was Dutch/Netherlands New Guinea (NNG), the western half of the island of New Guinea, in 1962. From October 1962 the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) took over control, after which in May 1963 power for governing the area was transferred to Indonesia. During the short period of UNTEA control the Netherlands New Guinea stamps were overprinted with “UNTEA”. Overprinting was also done for NNG postal cards.

The postal cards shown here are both from the May 1957 series produced for NNG. In the Geuzendam catalogue (8th edition) the original version of these cards is listed as G2 on page 244, while the overprinted version is shown on page 249. The stamp imprint/indices shows the 7 cents Juliana stamp. The 1962-1963 overprinting comes in 3 forms. Discussing the overprints is not the story I’d like to tell in this article. What is interesting about these postal cards is something else: their usage.

Fig 1a: Card sent in April 1963 with an extra 55 cents UNTEA stamp requesting the song “Little Ship” by the Blue Diamonds.

These cards, according to pricing in the Geuzendam catalogue, were mostly used to request songs on local radio stations. The idea was that people would buy one of these cards and put at least 50 cents of postage (as a donation for charity), plus 3 cents postage (administration costs for the postal services to distribute the 50 cents) extra on the card. Because 53 cents stamps didn’t exist this meant people either had to put on several stamps to create the correct amount or put on more than was needed.

The first card shows the usage of requesting a radio tune: the 7 cents card is uprated with a 55 cents UNTEA overprinted stamp for a total of 62 cents; the number is written by hand in red in the top left corner. This card was sent on (1?)9 April 1963, just before the end of the UNTEA period, to the radio station in Hollandia (present day Jayapura, at the time this was referred to as “Kota Baru” on Irian Barat). “Kotak Pos 99,-“ is post office box number 99, which was the PO Box of R.O.N.G., the “Radio Omroep Nieuw-Guinea”.

Fig 1b: Back of the same card. Notice the name of the band isn’t even mentioned; just asking for the name of the song was more than enough information as the band was very popular.

Because the sender had used at least 53 cents extra, the card was honoured, as can be seen by the purple handwritten scrawl next to the red “62”. So, what was the song requested by the sender? That can be found typed on the back of the card. It was the 1961 song “Little Ship” by the Blue Diamonds, an at the time very popular band made up of two brothers, Ruud and Riem de Wolff. Their music is instantly recognizable to many Dutch people. Here is the song:

The second card is also a request card, but in case, something unusually happened. The person sending the card didn’t uprate the card at all, there are no extra stamps added. But as the Geuzendam catalogue notes, these types of cards were usually accepted as can be seen by the red scrawl on this card.

Fig 2a: Another card sent in April 1963 but without the 53+ cents required. The red scrawl however suggests a song was played anyway.

At first it seemed the song “My Girl” by The Temptations was requested, but it turns out that is impossible as this song was released in December 1964 while the card is dated 8 April 1963. Which song was requested? I have no idea what is the requested song. If someone can translate the handwritten text, perhaps we would know what the message was and also which song was requested? Please leave your answer in the comments field below.

Fig 2b: The back of this card showing the handwritten text in Bahasa Indonesia, the Indonesian standardized version of the Malay language.

For more information on Netherlands New Guinea see the article by Hugo Brieffies on the Netherlands+Philately website.

Ivo Spanjersberg

Ivo Spanjersberg

Webmaster. Collecting Korean revenue stamps (see http://www.spanjersberg.net/). Also member of Korea Stamp Society (https://www.koreastampsociety.org/) & Nederlandse Vereniging voor Fiscale Filatelie (http://www.belastingzegels.nl/).

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One thought on “Request for Blue Diamond’s song, postage paid for by UNTEA stamps

  1. As a collector of UNTEA, this article is very interesting to me. These postcards were in use for a very short time, so this promotion by the radio station explains where there are so many of this postcards available to the stamp market that were used for sending in song requests to the radio station.

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