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Star and Local Scene Issue of 1895

Star and Local Scene Issue of 1895
One of ten values in the issue of July 22, 1895 for
use on local mail or mail to Sarawak and Labuan

All of Brunei's mail was delivered through Labuan's post office until the Sarawak government opened a post office at the coal mining town of Brooketon (Muara) circa 1888. It used Sarawak stamps until the post office passed to control of the Brunei in February 1907.

On August 20, 1894 Brunei's Sultan Hashim and J.C. Robertson signed an agreement for the production of the "Star and Local Scene" issue (pictured above). The issue has long been the subject of controversy. Robertson intended to reap the profits of the philatelic sale of these stamps but they were also intended for use by the Sultan for his postal services. On March 30, 1895 Robertson replied to an enquiry about the stamp from Whitfield, King and Co. saying,

I have just come back from Brunei, having gone to see the Sultan and the Postmaster about your business principally....He and his postmaster have no idea of the way to conduct any business. I assure you that the delay in sending the stamps to you is caused by the illness of the Postmaster's wife, or at least one of his wives. In the meantime the Post Office is shut."

Robertson then explained that the stamps could be obtained more expeditiously from a Glasgow address. Scott does not list this issue however Stanley Gibbons justifies its listing on the basis of the use of the stamps on commerical mail carried on the Sultan's yacht to Labuan. Because Brunei was not a member of the Universal Postal Union or a party to any other international postal agreements, the stamps were only recognized for use on mail in Brunei, Labuan and Sarawak. Mail for international destinations required additional franking with Labuan stamps. This was one of the reasons for the early scepticism regarding the legitimacy of the Brunei stamps. The lithographed stamps were printed in Glasgow and discussed in philatelic journals in February 1895 although, according to Gibbons, they were issued on July 22, 1895. The set consisted of the following denominations in Straits cents and dollars: half cent brown, one cent brown-lake (pictured here), two cent black, three cent deep blue, five cent deep blue-green, eight cent plum, ten cent orange-red, twenty-five cent turquoise-green, fifty cent yellow-green and one dollar yellow-olive.

The first Brunei post office opened in Brunei town on October 11, 1906 and its stamps were accepted as valid although it did not join the Universal Postal Union until January 1, 1916.


"Brunei's First Stamps of 1895." The Daily Brunei Resources. 17 Apr. 2012. Web.
     8 Apr. 2019.

"Brunei." Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. 1997.

"Brunei." Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth and Empire Stamps 1840-1979. 2015.

Lamb, Bob. "The World in a Nutshell: Brunei." American Philatelist, Feb. 2019: 200. Print.

Melville, Frederick John. Phantom Philately. Worthington, Ohio: Janet van den Berg, 1950. Print.

Rossiter, Stuart and John Flower. The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald and Co., 1986.

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