Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Foreign Stamps in Brunei

The above is a Sarawak stamp complete with a portrait of Charles Vyner Brooke. Look closely and you will see the word Brunei handstamped onto the stamp and dated sometime 2nd March 1946. For those of you who are both history challenged and postal knowledge challenged would wonder when we used Sarawak stamps in our country? And if that surprised you, look at the stamp below.

This is a North Borneo stamp also handstamped Brunei. North Borneo was the name for Sabah, in case you are wondering. What's the story behind both stamps?

In 1945, when the Allied Forces took over Brunei and the rest of Southeast Asia basically from the Japanese, they set up a temporary administration in all of the countries. These administrations were called British Military Administration and hence BMA. These administrations in starting up the government found that most of the local stamps that were in used at the local postal authorities were mutilated - local stamps being overprinted by the previous Japanese administrations. So BMA in order to restart postal services needed new stamps.

In some countries, they were lucky to find existing stamp stocks which had no Japanese overprints such as those in Sarawak and North Borneo. For Brunei, no such luck. And at the same time, in order to simplifly administration, all three states were treated as one. So for a time in 1946, Brunei's postal authorities had to use either Sarawak or North Borneo stamps overprinted BMA and hence, that's why for a short time, foreign stamps were in use in Brunei.

I had a hard time hunting these stamps down. Fortunately I managed to get my hands on these two. I also managed to get the entire North Borneo BMA set but at the moment I am still searching for the entire Sarawak BMA set. If anyone out there is willing to part with the entire Sarawak BMA set, let me know.