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BANK of INDIA, A/IA & CHINA: POSTCARD from MELBOURNE to BATAVIA

This THREE HALFPENCE postcard with ‘POSTAGE’ at the base of QV’s neck was introduced in March 1905 and it remained current until 1913. It was printed UNION POSTALE UNIVERSELLE/ (Victoria, Australia) and the 1½d stamp wass cancelled MELBOURNE/ 21/ 2 15P/ 13 SE 07/ VICTORIA. It was addressed to The Agent, Chartered Bank of India, A/ia & China, Batavia. There is a faint black squared circle BATAVIA postmark (date not legible) and a large blue double oval with CHARTERED BANK OF INDIA, AUSTRALIA & CHINA/ Recd 14 OCT 1907/ ANSWd _____/ BATAVIA. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China (or simply The Chartered Bank) was a bank founded in London in 1853 by James Wilson following the grant of a Royal Charter from Queen Victoria. It opened its first branches in 1858 in Calcutta and Bombay followed by Shanghai. The following year it opened a branch in Hong Kong and an agency in Singapore. In 1861 the Singapore agency was upgraded to a branch. In 1862 the bank was authorised to issue bank notes in Hong Kong, a privilege it continues to exercise. Over the following decades, it printed bank notes in China and Malaysia.

The bank’s expansion continued through the 1860s to the 1900s, leading it to open branches across Asia. The bank’s traditional business was cotton from Mumbai (Bombay), indigo and tea from Calcutta, rice in Burma, sugar from Java, tobacco from Sumatra, hemp in Manilla and silk from Yokohama. It played a major role in the development of trade with the East which followed the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, and the extension of the telegraph to China in 1871.

In the early 1900s the bank opened offices in New York and Hamburg. When it established its New York branch in 1912, the Chartered Bank became the first foreign bank to be issued a licence to operate in New York. The bank’s office in Yokohama Japan was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. In 1927 the bank acquired the P & O Bank, which had offices in Colombo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canton. The P & O Bank also owned Allahabad Bank and the Chartered Bank merge in the P & O Bank, but continued to run Allahabad Bank separately until the Government of India nationalised the latter in 1969. The bank was greatly affected by the Second World War.

In 1957, the Chartered Bank acquired the Eastern Bank, giving a network of branches in Aden, Bahrain, Beirut, Lebanon, Qatar and the United Arab Emirate. It also bought the Ionian Bank’s Cyprus branches. The Chartered Bank merged with the Standard Bank of South Africa in 1969, and the combined bank became th Standard Chartered Bank. Both companies were keen to capitalise on the huge expansion of trade and to earn the handsome profits to be made from financing the movement of goods from Europe to the East and Africa.

The Standard Chartered Bank is a British bank headquartered in London with operations in more than 70 countries. Despite its British base, it has relatively few customers in the United Kingdom and 90% of its profits come from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is difficult to obtain information about its involvement in branches in Australia, in spite of Australia being included in its original name. The countries in which the Standard Chartered Bank is involved in the Far East (1912) and other parts of the world (2007), are shown in Figures 2 & 3.

 
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