Sarawak Kingdom


Sarawak British colony

British colony





Quick reference

General issues: Kingdom 1869-1888, British protectorate 1888-1942, British military administration 1945-1946, British colony 1946-1963

Country name on general issues: Sarawak

Special issues: Japanese occupation 1942-1945

Currency: 1 Dollar = 100 Cent 1869-1963

Population: 320 000 in 1901, 777 000 in 1961

Political history Sarawak

Postal history Sarawak

Please click on the image to enlarge

Sarawak is located on the island of Borneo in southeastern Asia. In the 19th century, Sarawak is ruled as part of the sultanate of Brunei. In 1841, part of Sarawak is awarded to the Englisman James Brooke in exchange for his support of the sultan in an internal conflict. In 1846, Sarawak is given the status of a kingdom, Brooke is given the title ‘Rajah’ and becomes the founder of a dynasty that will rule Sarawak until 1946. In subsequent years, the territory of Sarawak is extended until it has reached its present borders. In 1888, Sarawak is becomes a British protectorate.

In WWII, Sarawak is invaded by Japan in 1941 and fully occupied in 1942. Japan forms the North Borneo administrative area which includes Sarawak and also Brunei, Labuan and North Borneo. After the Japanese capitulation, the British establish military administration covering all British possessions on Borneo. In 1946, the British form the colony of Sarawak, deposing the Brooke family as the rulers of Sarawak.  Sarawak joins the federation of Malaysia in 1963 as the federal state of Sarawak.

Postal history Sarawak

Postal history Sarawak

1869 – Rajah James Brooke

In Sarawak stamps are issued from 1869. All issues, until WWII, portray the ruling member of the Brooke dynasty.

In WWII, during the occupation by Japan, the Japanese administration overprints available stamps from Brunei, North Borneo and Sarawak in Japanese. The overprints would read ‘Imperial Japanese Government’, ‘Imperial Japanese Post North Borneo’ or just ‘North Borneo’. The overprints exist in several varieties and in different colors as the overprint was applied both by the central authorities and by local post offices. Two sets of Japanese design have been issued in 1943. Both overprints and definitives were valid throughout the administrative area of North Borneo including Sarawak.

After WWII, the British issue stamps of North Borneo and Sarawak overprinted ‘BMA'[1]‘British Military Administration’ . These overprints were also valid for use throughout all the British possessions in northern Borneo. In 1946, a set is issued to commemorate 100 years of rule by the Brooke family – ironic since the family would be deposed the same year.

From 1947 until 1963, the colony of Sarawak issues stamps. The first issue is an overprint on previous issues, the overprint being an emblem with a crown and ‘GR'[2]‘George Rex’ . Subsequent issues are of the standard design issued in many British colonies.

The stamps of the colony of Sarawak are superseded, from 1963, by the federal issues of Malaysia, used concurrently with the state issues of Sarawak.

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