Labuan Stamps History

A post office was operating in Labuan by 1864, and used a circular date stamp as postmark. The postage stamps of India and Hong Kong were used on some mail, but they were probably carried there by individuals, instead of being on sale in Labuan. Mail was routed through Singapore. From 1867 Labuan officially used the postage stamps of the Straits Settlements, then issued its own beginning in May 1879.

The first stamps of Labuan depict the usual profile of Queen Victoria, but are unusual for being inscribed in Arabic and Chinese scripts in addition to “LABUAN POSTAGE”. Perennial shortages necessitated a variety of surcharges in between the several reprints and colour changes of the 1880s. The original stamps were engraved, but the last of the design, in April 1894, were done by lithography.

Beginning in May 1894, the designs of North Borneo were printed in different colours, with “LABUAN” either engraved into the vignette or overprinted. On 24 September 1896, the 50th anniversary of the cession was marked by overprinting “1846 / JUBILEE / 1896” on the overprinted North Borneo designs. Additional overprints appeared through the 1890s. In 1899 many types were surcharged with a value of 4 cents.

A last Labuan-only design came out in 1902, depicting a crown and inscribed “LABUAN COLONY”. After incorporation into the Straits Settlements in 1906, Labuan ceased issuing its own stamps, although they remained valid for some time. Many of the remainders were cancelled to order for sale to collectors, and are now worth only pennies; genuine postal uses are worth much more.

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