Postage stamps and postal history of the Straits Settlements
Straits Settlementsof the Malayan Peninsulahave a distinct postal historyfrom the other Malayan areas.
Mail was originally handled privately by passing ships; the earliest known
postal markings date from around 1806, used by a post officeon Prince of Wales Island(now Penang). Service was regularized in 1837 by the Indian Post Office Act; postage stamps of Indiawere used from 1854, the Settlements being considered part of the "Bengal circle", then from 1861 part of the "Burma circle". The cancellations used were B109 at Malacca, B147 at Penang, and B172 at Singapore.
When the Settlements became a
crown colonyin 1867, they began issuing their own stamps, not least because they adopted a currency based on 96 cents to a silver dollar. for the Settlements started arriving in December; they are notable for a prominent white frame around the profile of Victoria, inscribed "STRAITS SETTLEMENTS POSTAGE". The set of nine values, 2c to 96c, appeared gradually, with the 30c value not being issued until 1872.
Shortages from 1879 through 1882 forced the production of various
surcharges, until new 5c and 10c stamps arrived in January 1882. This was not the end of difficulties, and additional surcharges appear regularly until the end of the century.
In 1892, stamps of the
key plate issueswent on sale, a number of them printed in two colors. A notable feature of this issue is the $5 stamp issued in 1898.
The accession of King Edward VII necessitated new stamps in 1902, still in a key plate design, supplemented in 1903 with a design using oval vignette. In 1907, the remainder of the stamps of
Labuanwere overprinted "STRAITS SETTLEMENTS.", some with new denominations, and in 1910 new large-format stamps appeared with values of $25 and $500 (although available for postage, their usual use was fiscal).
George V replaced his father on stamps beginning in 1912, reusing frames and only replacing vignettes. These stamps were overprinted in 1922 to mark the
Malaya-Borneo Exhibition. The Settlements also joined in the Silver Jubileefor George V in 1935.
The last issue of the Settlements was for George VI beginning in 1937.
In March 1942,
Japanissued stamps for their occupation, made by overprinting existing stamps with Japanese inscriptions.
After the Japanese left in 1945, the British military administration issued provisionals by overprinting Straits Settlements stamps with "BMA / MALAYA". These were available everywhere in Malaya, and used until regular postage stamp printing was organized, as late as 1951 in the case of
Stanley GibbonsLtd: various catalogues
* [http://www.jl.sl.btinternet.co.uk/stampsite/home.html Encyclopaedia of Postal History]
* Stuart Rossiter & John Flower: "The Stamp Atlas"
* [http://michelhoude.com/BMSM/FrameSet/@FrameSet.htm British Malaya Security Markings: Firm Chops, PERFINS, Forwarding Agents Chops etc.]
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