A CENTURY OF MALAYSIAN POSTAGE STAMPS
The story of the stamps of Malaysia lies in the history of the stamps of the States which make up the Federation. It begins in 1867 when the Straits Settlements were constituted as a Crown Colony governed directly by Britain.
Prior to 1867 postal matters in the Straits Settlements came under the control of the Indian Post Office. Indian postage stamps were used without any modifications but in 1867 stamps intended for use solely in the Straits Settlements were introduced. These stamps were overprinted with a Crown and were in Straits cents and dollars. Curiously the title "Straits Settlement" was not shown on the stamps.
In December 1867 a new definitive issue featuring the famous Wyon portrait of Queen Victoria and typographed by De La Rue replaced this issue. Then between March 1892 and July 1899 stamps in the standard Colonial keyplate colours were issued. In 1902 the Colonial keyplate designs showing the new monarch King Edward VII appeared.
The King George V definitive series release between 1812 and 1922 was a mixture of old and new designs with some values printed on coloured paper. In 1936 a new standard design for the Straits Settlements made its debut and was later adopted by the other stamp issuing territories of the Malayan Postal Union. It featured an oval portrait of King George V flanked by palm trees. The same design was used for the stamps of the Straits Settlements participated in the Colonial Omnibus issued for the Silver Jubilee of King George V (1935) and the Coronation of King George VI (1937).
POSTAL SERVICES IN THE FORMER UNFEDERATED MALAY STATES
In 1876 postal service was established in Johore. Straits Settlements stamps overprinted with the name of the State were in use until 1891 when a series portraying His Highness Sultan Aboubakar was issued. When he was succeeded by his son, His Highness Sultan Sir Ibrahim in 1895, an issue overprinted "Kemahkotaan" commemorating the Coronation was released. Various issues portraying the Sultan and, in 1935 the Sultana also appeared between this date and his Diamond Jubilee in 1955.
Postal services in the other Unfederated States were controlled by Siam from 1883 until 1909 and Siamese stamps post-marked in Kedah, Kelantan and Perlis are eagerly sought after. No Post Office existed in Trengganu until December 1910 when the Straits Settlements stamps were used pending the arrival of a distinctive series which was released later that month. During a temporary shortage in 1921, stamps of the Straits Settlements were used in Trengganu and in that year a new series portraying His Highness Sultan Suleiman was released.
Kelantan followed Trengganu with distinctive stamps in 1911 featuring the emblem of the State. The series was reissued between 1921 and 1928 when a new one dollar stamp portraying His Highness Sultan Ismail Ibni Almerhum Sultan Mohammed was released. This design was used for all values of a new definitive issue made between 1937 and 1940.
Kedah's first definitive series appeared in 1912 and consisted of three designs for 14 values. This issue, with various colour changes, remained in use until 1937 when a new series portraying His Highness Sultan Abdul Hamid Halimshah was made.
POSTAL SERVICES IN THE FORMER FEDERATED MALAY STATES
In the Federated Malay States the stamps of the Straits Settlements were used until the States began issuing their own series. Perak was the first of the States to issue stamps when the Straits Settlements two cents value was hand-stamped with a "P" and a crescent and star in 1878. Overprinted issues remained in use in Perak until the first distinctive series was introduced in 1892.
Selangor too used Straits Settlements stamps until its own overprinted local issues appeared in 1881.
Pahang's first issue consisted of Straits Settlements stamps overprinted "Pahang" in 1889. Negri Sembilan, the Union of the 9 States of Sungei Ujong, Jelebu, Johol, Rembau, Ulu Muar, Jempul, Terachi, Gunong Pasir and Inas, issued stamps in August 1891 which were in fact overprinted Straits Settlements stamps. Sungei Ujong, however, had stamps of its own from 1878 onwards.
In 1891 a standard design showing a leaping tiger was introduced in the Federated States. 2 cents denominations released simultaneously in Pahang, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Sungei Ujong were followed by 5 cents (1893) and 1 cent (1895) denominations. In 1895 a 3 cents denomination in a new uniform design showing the head of a tiger was released. Stamps in denominations of 4 cents and 5 cents, of the tiger's head design, were released in the Federated States between 1895 and 1899.
The Federated Malay States, constituted in July 1896 each used its own stamps until 1898 when the stamps of any State became valid for use in the other States. In 1900 a general issue inscribed "FEDERATED MALAY STATES" was introduced. At first the definitive sets of Negri Sembilan and Perak were used, suitably overprinted, but towards the end of that year a new "leaping tiger" design was brought into use for the lower denominations. The dollar values used the elephants design as before. The stamps remained in use for 35 years.
In 1935 the Malayan Postal Union was formed and separate issues for the Federated Malay States were re-introduced, each State issuing a series inscribed "MALAYA" with the State's name. In 1922 a Malaya - Borneo Exhibition was held in Singapore and several values in the definitive sets of the Straits Settlements, Kedah, Kelantan, Brunei and North Borneo were overprinted "MALAYA - BORNEO EXHIBITION".
POSTAL SERVICES IN SABAH AND SARAWAK
Present day Malaysia includes two States in the island of Borneo, Sabah and Sarawak. Sabah was previously known as North Borneo and incorporated the territory of Labuan which was itself a Crown Colony from 1848 till 1890 and had its own stamps between 1879 and the end of the century.
Both Sarawak and Sabah (North Borneo) have had a long and interesting postal history. Sarawak commenced issuing stamps in March 1869 and Sabah in 1883. With the establishment of the British North Borneo Company in 1882, North Borneo was opened to trade and became a British Protectorate in 1888. Between 1883 and 1887 its stamps were inscribed with the words "North Borneo"; in the latter year the word "British" was added to the title. From 1894 onward the stamps were inscribed with the words "The States of North Borneo" and "British Protectorate" were either overprinted or added to the design in most issues after 1901.
STAMPS DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR AND THE IMMEDIATE POST-WAR YEARS
The Malay Peninsula was invaded by Japanese Forces in 1941 and the stamps of Malaya were overprinted by the Japanese who later issued their own stamps. When Japan surrendered in 1945 Malaya was placed under British Military Administration and the pre-war stamps were overprinted with "B.M.A. MALAYA". In 1947 the stamps of Sarawak and North Borneo were reissued overprinted with the Royal Cipher following their change in status to Crown Colonies.
On 1st February 1948 the Federation of Malaya was formed and the stamps of the British Military Administration were gradually superseded by stamps in uniform design for portraying the Rulers of each State (or the Coat of Arms, in the case of Negri Sembilan) in Johore, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Singapore and Trengganu. The State of Perlis, which had hitherto used the stamps of Kedah, began issuing its own stamps at this time. The twelve territories issued stamps in the Colonial Omnibus designs for the Silver Wedding (1948), the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union (1949) and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (1953).
POSTAGE STAMPS AFTER MERDEKA
The Federation of Malaya achieved independence on the 31st August, 1957. Philatelically these changes were heralded by the release of four stamps on 5th May, 1957, inscribed "Federation of Malaya", which were intended for use throughout the country. Between June and August, each of the component States released their own definitive sets differing only in the inscription and the portrait of the ruler inset.
Changes of portrait became necessary on the stamps of Kedah (1959), Kelantan (1961-2) and Selangor (1961-2) because of the deaths of the rulers of these States. Several stamps were issued by the States to mark local events such as the Diamond Jubilee of the Sultan of Johore (1955) and the Coronations of the Rulers of Johore (1960), Kedah (1959), Kelantan (1961), Negri Sembilan (1961), Selangor (1961) and Perak (1963).
The Federation of Malaya issued a number of colourful commemorative stamps such as the Independence Day Commemorative (1957 and 1958) and the Parliamentary Inauguration set (1959). In the succeeding years stamps were issued for the Natural Rubber Research Conference. The Colombo Plan Conference, National Language Month, Free Primary Education and the Cameron Highlands Hydro-Electric Scheme. In addition the Federation participated in the world "Omnibus" issues for World Refugee Year (1960), Human Rights (1958), Malaria Eradication (1962) and Freedom from Hunger (1963).
On 16th September, 1963, Malaysia, comprising the States of the Federation of Malaya and the States of Sabah (North Borneo), Sarawak and Singapore, was established and a set of three stamps featuring the sun rising over a map of the area was issued. The stamps of North Borneo were overprinted with the word "Sabah" pending the arrival of the new definitive series.
Malaysia issued two stamps in 1963 to commemorate the Fourth World Orchid Conference in Singapore and stamps for other important events such as the Ninth Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial and International Telecommunication Union Centenary followed during the next two years.
The present distinctive National definitive issue featuring birds of Malaysia was released on 9th September, 1965, and on 15th November of the same year the State definitive issues were released.
Since the release of these National and State series, commemorative stamps have been issued from time to time notably for the opening of the National Mosque and the International Airport (August 65), the third South Eastern Asia Peninsula Games (December 65), National Monument (February 66), Installation of the King (April 66), 150th Anniversary of Penang Free School (October 66), The First Malaysia Plan (December 66), Seacom (March 67), 10th Anniversary of Merdeka (August 67) and the Centenary of Council Negri, Sarawak (September 67).
Commemorative postage stamps of the 25 cents, 30 cents and 50 cents denominations will be issued on 2nd December, 1967 to mark the Centenary of the First Postage Stamps of Malaysia.
Sizes: Trapeziform with the following dimensions perforation to perforation in sheets of 50:
(a) Vertical - 30 mm, (b) Horizontal (at top) - 35 mm, (c) Horizontal (at bottom) - 42 mm
Printing Process: Photogravure
Design: The three stamps depict the following:
25 cents - depicts the 1867 Straits Settlements 8c stamp and the current 25c Malaysia stamp, both in actural colours.
30 cents - depicts the 1867 Straits Settlements 24c stamp and the current 30c Malaysia stamp, both in actural colours.
50 cents - depicts the 1867 Straits Settlements 32c stamp and the current 50c Malaysia stamp, both in actual colours.
Colour: All the three stamps are in multi-colours.
Paper: Unwatermarked paper
Printed by: The Government Printing Bureau of Japan
Artist: Enche Ng Peng Nam
Period of Sale: Three months from the date of issue or until stocks are exhausted whichever is earlier
First Day Cover: