Labuan 1879 – 1905

Since the 15th century, the north and west coast of Borneo including the island of was part of the Bruneian Empire. In the 18th century, attracted British interest. James Brooke acquired the island for Britain in 1846 through a treaty with the Sultan of Brunei, Omar Ali Saifuddin II on 18 December 1846. A British naval officer, Rodney Mundy visited Brunei with his ship HMS Iris to keep the Sultan in line until the British Government made a final decision to take the island and he took Pengiran Mumin to witness the island’s accession to the British Crown on 24 December 1846. Some sources state that during the signing of the treaty, the Sultan had been threatened by a British navy warship ready to fire on the Sultan’s palace if he refused to sign the treaty while another source says the island was ceded to Britain as a reward for assistance in combating pirates.

The main reason why the British possessed the island was to protect their own interest in the region as a naval base and to suppress Piracy in the South China Sea. The British also believed the island could be the next Singapore. The island became a Crown Colony in 1848 with James Brook appointed as the first governor and commander in chief, with William Napier as his lieutenant-governor. In 1849, the became the first of several British companies to try to exploit Labuan coal deposits. The company was formed to exploit coal deposits on the island and adjacent coast of Borneo but soon became involved in a dispute with James Brooke. Not proving itself a great commercial or strategic asset, administration of Labuan was handed to the in 1890.


1879Type 1, Crown, 2c, 6c, 12c, 16c
1880Type 1, Crown CC, 2c, 6c, 8c, 10c, 12c, 16c,
1880Type 2, Stamp No 9, 8c on 12c
1880Type 3, 6c on 16c, 8c on 12c
1880Type 4, 8c on 12c
1881Type 5, 8c on 12c
1883 - 1886Type 6, Crown CA, 2c, 8c, 10c, 16c, 40c
1883Type 7, $1 on 16c
1885Type 8, 2c on 8c, 2c on 16c
1885Type 9, 2c on 16c
1885Type 10, 2c on 8c
1885 - 1886Type 6, Crown CA, 2c, 8c, 10c, 16c
1891Type 11, 6c on 8c, 6c on 16c, 6c on 40c
1892 - 1893Type 12, No Wmk, 2c, 6c, 8c, 10c, 12c, 16c, 40c,
1892Type 13+14, 2c on 40c, 8c on 16c
1894Type 12, 2c, 6c, 8c, 10c, 12c, 16c, 40c
1894Stamps of North Borneo, engraved "LABUAN", Type 15 or 16, 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c, 6c, 8c, 8c, 12c, 18c, 18c, 24c, 24c
1895Stamps of North Borneo, Type 17, 4c on $1, 10c on $1, 20c on $1, 30c on $1, 40c on $1
1895Stamps of North Borneo, Type 18, 25c, 50c, $1
1896Jubilee 1896, Type 19, 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c, 6c, 8c
1897Stamps of North Borneo, Types 20+21, overprinted "LABUAN", 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c, 6c, 8c, 12c, 18c, 24c
1897Type 16 colour changes, overprinted "LABUAN", 12c, 18c, 24c, 18c
1899Contemporary stamps, Type 22+23, 4c on 5c, 4c on 6c, 4c on 8c, 4c on 12c, 4cc on 18c, 4c on 24c, 4c on 25c, 4c on 50c, 4c on $1
1899Type 24, Surcharged and Optd "Specimen", 4c on 1c, 4c on 2c, 4c on 3c
1900 - 1902Stamps of North Borneo, Type 27+29, overprinted "LABUAN" as Type 25, 2c, 4c, 4c, 5c, 10c, 16c
1901Stamps of North Borneo, Type D1, overprinted "POSTAGE DUE", 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c, 6c, 8c, 12c, 18c, 24c
1902Type 26, 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c, 8c, 10c, 12c, 16c, 18c, 25c, 50c, $1
1904Type 27 (Issue of 1895 and 1897-1898, 4c on 5c, 4c on 6c, 4c on 8c, 4c on 12c, 4c on 18c, 4c on 24c, 4c on 25c, 4c on 50c, 4c on $1
1905Type 28+29, Stamps of North Borneo overprinted "LABUAN", 25c, $1, $2, $5, $10

Link: Labuan, British Colony    Philatelic and Postal History of Labuan from the The Sarawak Specialists’ Society

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