Old China Town KL The Malaya Study Group Selangor SG 87

The Malaya Study Group exists for collectors of the stamps, postal stationery and postal history of the states of Peninsular Malaysia which until 1963 formed the Federation of Malaya, including the Straits Settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore, the Federated Malay States, Negri Sembilan and Sungei Ujong, Pahang, Perak and Selangor and the Unfederated States, Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Trengganu. Many MSG members also collect & study all of modern Malaysia, Singapore, and the island of Borneo, comprising additionally  Sabah, Sarawak, Borneo, Labuan, and the states of Brunei & the peninsular state of Singapore. Study of the whole area so often adds to understanding and appreciation of the philately of Malaya. The Society has a JOURNAL, "The Malayan Philatelist" and a NEWSLETTER supplied free to members, EXCHANGE PACKETS, AUCTIONS and has produced a number of significant PUBLICATIONS on the stamps and postal history of the area.

There is a fuller report, with many scans, in the Members Only Area

Johore Display by Susan McEwen at Spink, London, February 14th 2015


Scans by Susan McEwen, Photographs by Nick Hackney & Report by Dominic Morris

Spink, 69 Southampton Row, London, WC1

Postal History of Johore Display by Susan McEwen 14.02.15

Report by Dominic Morris



Those not present missed a total treat. This was the best display of Johore, ever; and possibly one of the best ever Named Displays of any State (not just my view but one shared by all who saw it, including some of the most experienced and respected members of our Study Group).

Susan showed Johore from 1876-1949 in three Rounds, covering postal history, with some postal stationery, PPCs, air mails and maps.

Round One covered 1876-1929. She opened with the short-lived 1876-78 postal service with 2 good quality copies of the rare star and crescent overprint on the 2c Straits brown, used. No covers with this overprinted stamp are known to exist.

Susan continued with the 1884 overprints, including some very scarce combination covers, one being one of only four covers known to exist of the Loonchu post-mark- this one being from the Loonchu Coffee Estate to Germany; an 1894 map with a large area of white described ‘unexplored hill country’. In 1894, Straits upped the rate to 3c. Johore had no 3c or 1c stamp, hence the 3c overprint which Susan showed on cover. In 1904, Sultan Sir Ibrahim was visiting London at the Festive Season and sent out his traditional Christmas & New Year greeting card. Susan showed one sent to Australia, which attracted 3c Postage Due (a 3c Taxe Mark applied in London and a 3c Australian PD stamp, unusually with no State mark on the duty plate).

Another highlight of Round one was the complete set of the 1906-07 PPC series; and post-cards showing the transition of the causeway from the era when everything had to be unloaded at each end, ferried as loose goods and reloaded, to the 1909-23 wagon ferry, which ferried a few carriages across at a time to the 1919-23 construction of the rail and road causeway and a PPC of the formal opening of the causeway (with Sir Lawrence Guillemand Governor of the Straits Settlements and the Sultans of Johore, Negri Sembilan and Selangor). Susan also showed WW1 Censor covers which are somewhere between very scarce and rare from Johore. In 1918 shortages caused some out of date 4c stamps to be used and a postcard with the 1899 yellow + red 4c was shown.

Round Two covered postal history and postal stationery from 1930-1945. The Round opened with a cover from Semerah which predated the Semerah postmark (presumably, the bean-counters market-testing demand); followed by: the 1935 Postal Stationery 5c Green envelope uprated for correct rate for its Liechtenstein destination; a 1937 cover addressed to a passenger on RMS Carthage. The Carthage had sailed before the cover arrived so it was forwarded to London where a 1/2d postage due stamp was applied cancelled with a boxed cachet stating ‘Charge not collected. New label required’ and a new 1/2d PD stamp applied to take it to its destination. A lovely cover, accompanied by a PPC of the RMS Carthage.

The Round followed with a Registered letter from Crown Prince Ismail with a letter to the American Consul thanking him for the gift of an American black bear (a lovely piece of social history which, as an ardent supporter of the Monarchies of the Malayan States, I yearn to have in my collection!); a UK to Singapore over-weight cover which picked up 15c of Straits/ FMS PD stamps, the intended Recipient had by then moved on to Johore so the original PD stamps were cancelled and new 15c Johore PD stamps were applied. (This is a totally brilliant and possibly unique PD cover- Eat Your Heart Out, Joe Robertson!)

The Round continued with the Purple 5c Postal Stationery envelope as a cover and the (very scarce) Postal Stationery Post-card used; 1940 Johore rubber export control coupons; a 1941 cover with a Patriotic Label neatly tied by the censor’s tape; a range of FPOs, including a January 1942 FPO 36 with Kedah stamp posted in Johore (Oh, we were really falling apart by then); an FPO 58 from Muar (the only one known); a January 1942 OGS cover/ letter with advice on ‘how to handle Native Labour in these difficult times’, including the invaluable advice ‘to make sure that employees were paid up to date, had adequate supplies of rice and fuel; but don’t let them withdraw all their savings, lest they bolt.’ (Sensible, but perhaps a Tad patronising); and a 22 January 1942 Johore to Singapore cover – believed to be the last known.

Susan concluded the Round with 1941-45, starting with a 1941 Red 8c Postal Stationery envelope, (I want this!). Then she moved onto the Jap Occ period, including the 8c Red Envelope used Jap Occ un-overprinted from Labis to Tanjong Malim 6 May 2602; a 5c cover posted within Muar dated 7 March 1942, un-overprinted; and the NIPPPON GOVERNMENT, 4c Sen overprinted post-card .


Round Three consisted of airmails, Free-Post and BMA period. Susan showed Imperial and KLM airmail covers with the changing rates, including a scarce cover from KLM’s short lived, September 1939 70c rate.
Then my personal favourite, a KLM 5 times overweight registered cover to HRH Sultan Sir Ibrahim, who in July 1939 was sojourning in Switzerland, with his then paramour (between Sultana Helen and Sultana Marcella- of whom Susan showed a press photo)

Susan concluded her airmails with PanAm clippers and $1 rate clipper postcards (2). The covers included one with the $2 Williams and Lee printing on striated paper.

Among the Free-post covers was a December 1945 from Muar bearing a Devizes receiving mark, proof that at least some of the Freepost covers went by air mail. The BMA selection showed two quite scarce pre-war 4c postcards, demonetised but then up-rated by two 2c BMA stamps and commercially used.

Susan concluded her display with an out-of period (1958) but splendid Chinese clubbed packet cover from Pontian to Swatow, with the originating and receiving money transmission service providers printed on the envelope, a $101.15 rate corresponding exactly with the number of 35c rate contents. The $100 was made up of four $25 revenue stamps. Revenues were allowed for postal use at that time but only for clubbed packets.


All in all a magnificent display and a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

Dominic Morris
Hon Sec

After the display Susan heard that her Aunty Doris died on Saturday 14th February, aged 92.
Aunty Doris + Uncle Norman lived in Singapore (1954-1957) and their Photographs and souvenirs had started Susan's interest in Malaya, which eventually led to her Johore philatelic collection.
Uncle Norman died in January 2013.
May they both rest in peace, together again.

Dominic Morris, Hon Sec


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