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Book on the collection of rare postcards launched
Published on: Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sandakan: A century after they were sent out across the world from Sandakan, rare postcards depicting scenes of North Borneo in the early 1900s have made their way home.

The first-ever complete collection of postcards by local entrepreneur and early photographer, Philippe Funk, has been published into a spectacularly beautiful coffee table book.

The Pre-War Images of North Borneo was launched Saturday by Philippe's granddaughter, Gertrude Funk, at Pavilion Hotel, here, witnessed by former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Peter Pang, the authors Dr Lim Pitt Kent and Nicholas Tan, and publisher Datuk C.L. Chan.

"I'm very proud to see my grandfather's work come together in this beautiful work. This is an important milestone for the Funk family and history lovers," said octogenarian Funk. "His postcards meant a lot to him and now everyone can enjoy them too."

The 224-page hardcover book is published by Opus Publications Sdn Bhd.

It took the co-author Nicholas Tan six years of hard work, participating in numerous auctions and extensive travelling around the world in search of the 148 postcards to complete the collection.

"Philippe's postcards are precious and important.

They are a window into the past, offering a glimpse into a bygone era and way of life," said Dr Lim. "Some of these postcards are never before seen images of pre-war North Borneo."

A Hakka migrant who made Elopura - now known as Sandakan - his home, Philippe was also a keen deltiologist (collector of postcards). In exchange for foreign postcards, he would send his own cards that showed the colonial and kampung life, culture and people of North Borneo.

"He accidentally became an ambassador of North Borneo promoting tourism and enticing them with these wonderful postcards," said Dr Lim.

For fellow co-author Tan, the book is a labour of love and a legacy of Sabah's pictorial history.

"This book is also an honour to the Funk family and a promise kept to Madame Funk. She was a critical source of information for this book," he said.

Tan is extremely proud that he managed to complete Philippe's much sought after collection of postcards and share it with the public.

"Many people have tried before us to publish Philippe's postcards but they never succeeded because the collection was incomplete," he said.

At the same event, Opus Publications Sdn Bhd Managing Director Datuk C.L. Chan also announced the soon-to-be published North Borneo Historical Journal, which is co-founded by him, Dr Lim and Tan.

The first issue of the bi-annual journal is expected to be out in June this year.

"This is a breakthrough as there has never been a journal of this nature about North Borneo so we're very excited," said Chan.

Anyone who has written about the history of North Borneo and would like their work published is encouraged to contribute to the journal.

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