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.

10th June 2017, Peter Cockburn Display, BMA

Report by Dominic Morris

Pictures by Nick Hackney

There is a fuller report with about 50 pictures in the Members Only Area

Peter’s excellent three-round display was deservedly well attended (including by one member who broke a journey from Madrid to Glasgow to be there and another who had come down specially from Aberdeen)

. Peter started with some context for the BMA, which had been conceived under Whitehall’s Malaya Planning Committee, established in 1943. By July 1945 a large Allied re-capture force had assembled at Trincomalee. It was caught un-prepared for Japan’s sudden surrender on 15 August 1945; so sudden that initially the Japanese occupying forces in Malaya refused to believe it (they did not formally surrender in Singapore until 12 September).

It was not until 29 August that the first Allied forces landed in Penang and Singapore, to a country facing severe shortages of food and other essentials; a rampant black market; looting and other civil disorders. It was not a propitious return!

Under the able Administrator, Sir Ralph Hone, postal services re-started on 17 September 1945 with ‘Free-post’.

Peter started Round One with a range of these Free-post covers, including one with a Krag meter mark applied in the UK to prevent postage due being levied and a cover with the only known example of the Jelutong SPO Penang postmark.


Peter then showed the London, KL and Melbourne over-printings chronologically. The London ones came first, from the pre-War stocks of Straits stamps held by Crown Agents. De La Rue were asked to prepare the over-print plates, keeping one for themselves and sending one each to KL (via India) and Melbourne. Among the ‘London’ material Peter showed the DLR first proof pull 2c sheet, dated 28 June 1945, one of only two known; and a block of the 25c with the double overprint.

In Kuala Lumpur there was a stock of 4,271,000 pre-War stamps that the Japanese hadn’t overprinted. The values were 1c, 5c, 8c grey, 10c,12c, 15c, $5. Peter showed the whole series in UPU SPECIMEN triplets, including the unique $5 triplet with the perfin ‘Specimen’ missing from the middle stamp.


The 5c, 12c and 50c ( a late arrival from India) were sent back to London to be perfinned because they were not available in the London stock; the perfin is placed higher up on the stamp than those values done from those London stocks.

Also shown were the 5c with BMA displacement to the left; covers with a mix of over-printed and pre-War stamps; a sheet of the 15c with the KL black overprint; and the $5 (often used as a currency) with forgery types.

The stamps for the Australian printings were diverted after Singapore fell and arrived in Melbourne/ Sydney in 1942 and were kept in bond through the War. The over-printing was done by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Melbourne for the 1c, 2c, 6c, 8c, 10c, 25c,30c, 40c, 50c, $1 and $2 values. These included most of the striated paper issues but the 30c,40c, $1 and $2 were eventually destroyed before issue.

The 50c forgery made from the one cent was represented by the unique piece with 14x50c forged stamps and two genuine 10c Singapore stamps.

The Australians prided themselves on not wasting a single stamp. Their printings make a happy hunting ground for flyspeck flaws that London or KL would have rejected. Peter showed several.
Peter finished the round with the $1, $2 and $5 new colours printed in London; Japanese Occupation postcards and envelopes, used by government departments between 1947 and 1949 (once the 1945 promulgation against the usage of Japanese Occ. Stationery had been ‘forgotten’); one of only 5 or 6 known used H2 registered envelopes; the second printing of the lower values to 50c; the rare inverted watermark 2c orange from a later printing; and one of only two known sheets of the 1c Plate 3.

Peter’s second round started with a study of the London-printed 10c Plate 2, showing the stages of plate-wear; a sheet of the 10c single plate 1 1948 printing (identifiable by the single ‘jubilee’ line); two UPU folders for the 1947 Conference in Paris one with red and one with blue covers; and postage due stamps and usages. The postal department, being public facing, were punctilious about not issuing old stamps once a new issue (in this case the ‘small heads’ issues) came out; not so the revenue departments.Peter showed BMA stamps used on a 1954 revenue document.

The remainder of the round constituted: AIF free-post covers used for returning POWs, the only known Express cover from the period; parcel post pieces; propaganda instructional labels (including ‘Buy only from price tag shops’ which most present had never seen before); postal stationery including the Benta de-monetisation cancel of pre-War cards, one of only three known Negri cards, the 4c card with the various flaws and AR cards, used extensively in the BMA period to chase up debts, land registrations etc. which had been in abeyance since 1942.

Peter’s third round was a wide range of postal history from the period, which included a cover from Singapore in late 1945 with a pre-war 8c grey, a North Canal Road with both types of registration cachet; and a boxed Pitt Street cachet.

From the States Peter’s display included covers from Selama with the registration cachet hand-written; Kuala Kubu Bahru on a G size BMA registration; pre-War Port Swettenham with the ‘FMS’ removed; Pekan on a G-size BMA registration envelope; Karak Agency in brown; a Jitra AR return card; Kangar Perlis in mud brown; a straight line Kulim; a Sungei Patani intaglio mark; Johore free-post commercial covers; Layang Layang; and a KL rubber institute return from Rawang to Selangor via the scarce Pengkalan Kundang sub-office; and a Chandra Bose propaganda cover used in 1948 (so, after Indian independence but even so!).

Peter finished the round with the BMA airletters and the 1946-47 Malaya Welfare Fund stamps affixed to various covers.

In all, an absolutely splendid display. Thank you, Peter.


There is a fuller report with about 50 pictures in the Members Only Area

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