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.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.

Report of The Malaya Study Group's
Golden Jubilee Programme in Malaysia 2009 


Members of the Malaya Study Group in Malaysia organised a special programme to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Group.

Many congratulations to the organisers of the multi day event, and especially to N.H.Gong who has driven this so successfully.

August 2009 

Report on the MSG golden jubilee event in Penang
by N. H. Gong


MSG members from Malaysia, Singapore and U. K. converged on George Town for the regional philatelic event of the year.

The opening ceremony of the Penang Heritage philatelic exhibition at the Penang state museum on 15th August was very well attended and MSG chairman Peter Cockburn received an appreciation plaque from the Penang Philatelic Society on behalf of the MSG.


DSC 0010: The Opening Ceremony of the Penang Heritage Philatelic Exhibition 2009 at the Penang State Museum on 15th August 2009.




DSC 0035:Mr. Peter Cockburn receiving the appreciation plaque on behalf of the MSG from Dr. Chua Hock Khoon at the Opening Ceremony

The frames on display at the exhibition included contributions from MSG members Peter Chang (U.S.A.) and Ted Proud (U.K.). Other MSG members who displayed material included Dr. Chua Hock Khoon, Liew Chai Huat, Dr. Gong Ngie Hee, Goh Kien Boon and Boey Ken Khoon. Several stamp dealers and Pos Malaysia were in attendance at the concurrent three-day stamp fair which was also held in the museum.




DSC 0084:Dr. Chua Hock Khoon viewing the exhibits together with YB Tuan Wong Hon Wai


DSC 0275: Dr. Chua Hock Khoon describing his display on "India Independence League"



DSC 0278: Mr. Peter Cockburn describing his display on "BMA"



DSC 0302: Mr. Ong Kuee Hong describing his display on "Selangor Delights"


The MSG golden jubilee celebratory dinner on the evening of 15th August was held at the revolving restaurant on the top floor of the City Bayview Hotel. It was indeed a good opportunity for MSG members to mingle and renew friendships and acquaintances. The excellent cuisine and the generous supply of delicious ice-cream undoubtedly contributed to the camaraderie, set against the backdrop of a breathtaking view of the Penang seafront.


The evening’s finale was the MSG’s 50th birthday cake-cutting event.


DSC 0188: Mr. Peter Cockburn views the MSG birthday cake at the MSG celebration dinner





DSC 0185: Mr. Peter Cockburn cutting the MSG birthday cake. Ms. Khoo Salma is on the right, in purple dress


MSG members were at the Penang Teochew Association on the morning of 16th August to listen to the excellent heritage talks by Miss Lim Gaik Siang (curator of the Penang Teochew Association), Ms. Khoo Salma and Mr. Abdur-Razzaq Lubis.



DSC 0201: At the Penang Teochew Association, before the start of the heritage talks


DSC 0215: Miss Lim Gaik Siang giving her talk on "George Town World Heritage Site"






DSC 0245: Mr. Abdur-Razzaq Lubis (Khoo Salma's husband) giving his talk on the origins of the Penang Stamp Club


This was followed by lunch in the historic E & O Hotel, compliments of the management.

The MSG members’ displays on the afternoon of 16th August were held in a comfortable meeting room in the E & O Hotel. Peter Cockburn gave an appreciation plaque and gift to the E & O management, delivered a welcome address and signed on an enlarged facsimile picture postcard of the Penang Cricket Club to open the afternoon’s proceedings. The displays were, in order, “India Independence League” and “Japanese Occupation Revenues” by Dr. Chua Hock Khoon, “BMA” by Peter Cockburn, “BMA errors and varieties” by Liew Chai Huat, “Detainees’ letters” and “Prewar Penang hotels” by Yoong Fen Shern, “Découpage flaws” and “Penang’s past revisited” by Dr. Gong Ngie Hee and “Selangor delights” by Ong Kuee Hong. Afternoon tea and refreshments were served, courtesy of the E & O Hotel, and there was a concurrent lucky draw with prizes donated by longtime MSG member Steven Tan. The afternoon’s activities concluded at about 6 p.m. It had been an enjoyable and memorable event for all participants, and the light evening rain did not dampen our goodbyes and our enthusiasm for more of such gatherings in the future.

DSC 0263: View of the meeting room at the historic E & O Hotel with Mr. Peter Cockburn giving his welcome address.


Display by Dr.N.H.Gong

1831 (25 Oct.) entire to London bearing the intaglio (engraved) ‘Prince of Wales Island Post Office’ postmark with manuscript date ‘25th Oct. 1831’ and backstamped boxed INDIA LETTER/DEAL with London arrival c.d.s. “Prince of Wales Island” was the name given to Penang by Captain Francis Light in 1786 in honour of King George III’s eldest son, who later became King George IV. The question was asked as to why this name was discontinued and replaced by the simple ‘Pinang’. The possible answers are that this was to avoid confusion with Prince of Wales Island in Alaska or Prince of Wales Island in Canada or simply that the name was just too long.

1836 (1 July) missionary entire to London via Calcutta, rated 1/3 with a ‘INDIA LETTER/LIVERPOOL’ boxed cachet and bearing, on reverse, a ‘Calcutta G.P.O. Shipletter’ datestamp and a boxed ‘PINANG POST OFFICE’ handstamp in red. “Pinang” is the betel-nut palm and “Pulau Pinang” was the original local name for Penang at the time Captain Francis Light successfully acquired it from the Sultan of Kedah as a grant for the East India Company.

1847 (6 Nov.) entire per Overland Mail to the United States, rated 2/- and sent c/o Baring Brothers & Co., London (name subsequently crossed out) with the boxed BEARING cachet in front and the three-tiered “PENANG Bearing” handstamp on the reverse. Half the transatlantic postage was collected (12 U.S. cents) as indicated by the accountancy mark in front. Prior to 1854, letters could be sent unpaid, i.e. postage was not prepaid by the sender and had to be collected from the recipient or agent. The boxed “BEARING” handstamp was of the standard Indian type, and was used concurrently with the three-tiered “PENANG Bearing” handstamp for unpaid mail. Dr. Wood also possessed an example of an 1849 entire to the U. S. with these handstamps (see p. 12 of his S. S. book).

c.1863 cover (“Mrs. Smith” correspondence) to England via Galle and Southampton, franked East India 4a. black (2) with octagonal (B/147) cancellations and endorsed “Stamped 8 annas” with the usual sender’s initials on the adhesives. A red d/r ‘Penang P. O.’ despatch c.d.s. is in front and a Clevedon arrival c.d.s. is on the reverse.

1864 cover to Paris via Suez and Marseilles, franked East India 2a. pink and 4a. black cancelled by B/147 octagons. A black d/r ‘Penang P. O.’ (overstruck in red) is in front together with a Suez transit postmark and the small boxed ‘PD’ (Paid) handstamp (Proud PD5) which is the earliest known date of use, having been previously recorded as used only in 1871. Reverse bears a Paris arrival postmark.

1864 (10 Dec.) triple colour franking printed envelope to Boston via Marseilles, franked East India 8p. (2), 2a. yellow-buff (3) and 8a. carmine, all cancelled by the Penang diamond 147 duplex (eleven, instead of ten, diagonal lines enclosing the ‘147’) and rated 1/11 with two “16 cents” accountancy marks and London transit/Boston arrival datestamps alongside.

1867 (9 Feb.) entire from Singapore to Bombay, rated ‘8’ and franked East India 8a. which is tied by a ‘STAMPED’ handstamp and the Penang diamond 147 duplex. The ‘STAMPED’ handstamp appears to have been privately applied (?to discourage theft of the stamp) before the letter was sent by steamer to Penang to catch the next available ship to Bombay.

1889 (27 Aug.) 3¢ blue PSPC to Minden, Germany with a Penang despatch c.d.s. and a German arrival c.d.s. in front. The squared dots dumb obliterator on this PSPC had never previously been described as used in Penang, but was used in Singapore several years earlier between 1880 and 1882 (Proud K19). Perhaps the Singapore GPO, which had discontinued their dumb obliterators much earlier than the Penang GPO, sent this particular obliterator up to Penang where it was then used sporadically. More examples are awaited to support this interesting hypothesis.

1912 (5 Jan.) 3¢ blue PSPC (ISC P1) used to Switzerland, cancelled d/r Penang A c.d.s. with Swiss arrival c.d.s. alongside. An extremely late usage of the first S. S. PSPC during the reign of KGV some 33 years after its issue! Message on reverse reads “Posted card and cover to an officer of the post office, Penang.” This suggests that the sender did not reside in Penang but wanted a late Penang cancellation on the PSPC, courtesy of an obliging postal officer. A rather enterprising way to utilise a S.S. postcard which had already been invalidated in non-S.S. Malay states!

Revenues: 1882 $2 blue on indenture fragment, tied by two early ‘Stamp Office Penang Ju 6 82’ steel circular datestamps. Also 1888 $5 pair and $25 on indenture fragments tied by red embossed ‘Penang 2.5.01’ revenue cancellations. An 1895 indenture of statutory mortgage (2 x $2 revenue stamps) between Zubidah BeeBee (mortgagor) and Daniel William Gott (mortgagee) for the amount of 2000 dollars at 12% interest per annum payable monthly, together with a 1897 indenture of statutory reconveyance ($1 revenue stamp) stating that the loan had been fully repaid. An interesting insight into 19th century money-lending practices.

Incoming mail: (1) 1903 Japanese 4 sen postal stationery postcard to Penang, cancelled s/r ‘Yokohama Japan’ c.d.s. with Singapore transit and Penang arrival postmarks in front. The reverse contains a message from a stamp collector in Yokohama who wanted to exchange Japanese stamps for S. S. stamps. (2) 1906 coloured picture postcard to Singapore, franked G.B ½d. pair and tied d/r ‘Milport’ c.d.s. with the d/r ‘Penang to Singapore’ marine sorter cancellation (used only in P & O ships) alongside.

1892 (26 Sep.) 1¢ PSPC locally addressed to the “Oriental Hotel, Penang”. This suggests that the Oriental Hotel was a separate entity in 1892 following its opening in 1885. The Sarkies brothers had concentrated on expanding the Oriental Hotel since the first hotel building (the Eastern Hotel) could not be expanded further. The merger of the Eastern and Oriental hotels probably took place just before the turn of the century. Reverse shows a message from the Penang Athenæum regarding a debate “That the law of Divorce in force in England should be extended to this Colony”. This suggests that the divorce laws in Penang in 1892 differed from the divorce laws of England.

1912 picture postcard (Sultan Abdul Samad building,Kuala Lumpur) to Holland franked KEVII 3¢ red and tied d/r ‘Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang’ c.d.s. with a Penang transit postmark alongside; and a 1912 cover to Bangkok, franked KEVII 4¢ claret pair and tied d/r ‘Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang’ c.d.s. with Penang and Singapore transit and Bangkok arrival datestamps on reverse.

1915 (2 Mar.) cover to Madras, franked KGV 1¢ green (x4) and tied by the ‘Eastern & Oriental Hotel’ d/r c.d.s. The letter had been opened by the censor and resealed with a WWI censor label affixed on top. This uncommon censor label, reportedly seen also on incoming mail, is inscribed ‘Straits Settlements G. R. Opened by the censor and officially sealed’. Reverse bears Penang despatch and Madras arrival postmarks.

1915 (10 June) paquebot cover from Penang to Singapore, franked G.B. KGV 1d. and tied d/r Penang B c.d.s. The front bears a ‘..AQUEBO..’ cachet and a straight-line ‘CENSOR SINGAPORE’ handstamp in purple just below the adhesive. The ‘PAQUEBO..’ cachet has been described (Proud SL8 State 3) but not the ‘..AQUEBO..’ cachet. Reverse bears a Penang despatch c.d.s. alongside a ‘Singapore P’ (normally associated with paquebot mail) and a ‘Singapore S’ arrival c.d.s. The sender was an enterprising chettiar who probably accepted unused G.B. stamps as a form of currency.

1934 and 1940 (reduced size) official post cards from the Labour Office, Penang to estates in Kampar inscribed ‘On His Majesty’s Service’ with an additional ‘O.G.S. Deputy Controller of Labour, Penang’ circular handstamp in purple. Postage was exempted and each card bears a Penang despatch c.d.s. The reverse of these post cards contained information on the assessment rates for employers of Indian labour who, in 1934, were required to pay 72 cents for males and 48 cents for females in respect of every 72 days’ work performed. By 1940, these rates had been reduced to 36 cents for males and nil for females in respect of every 72 days’ work.

1914 (30 Dec.) picture postcard (Fruit Market, Penang) addressed to ‘Capt. F. E. Wood, Taiping, Perak’ franked KGV 1¢ and tied d/r Penang c.d.s. with same day Taiping arrival c.d.s. alongside. Dr. Wood was the Medical Officer of Health in Perak at this time. He was also known as ‘Captain Wood’ due to his association with the Malay States Guides as their senior medical officer.
The message reads: “Best wishes for the New Year from us both. How are you? When are you coming to see us again?”
The sender’s name is unclear, but contains the line ‘b. Sepoy Lines’. Sepoy Lines was the site of the Malay States Guides’ parade ground and barracks for the Sikh regiment.

The Découpage flaws

Display by Dr.N.H.Gong

Dr. Wood, on page 112 of his handbook on the Straits Settlements, stated that Ewen’s Weekly of January 16th 1915 reported a double print of the 1913 $5 (white back). On page 110, Dr. Wood described the 1913 10¢ (white back) which showed a double print of the keyplate, most noticeable on the left-hand side. When more of these doubled prints were discovered in subsequent years, interest was stoked with many questions being asked as to how these doubled prints could have been produced. This led to a series of articles in The Malayan Philatelist, starting with Patrick Kearney’s report of the $5 in vol. 8/53 and concluding with the explanation by Mr. Ivan Knops (vol. 19/71) that these doubled prints were caused by uneven packing under the printing blanket, i.e. the rubber-covered piece of material on which the paper is laid (also known as “overlay”) before it comes into contact with the printing plate. The Oxford dictionary defines découpage (French = the action of cutting out) as ‘the decoration of surfaces with paper cut-outs’ and this aptly describes the printer’s handiwork which resulted in these flaws. Movement of the carefully cut packing results in insufficient pressure behind the edge of the cut-out and this results in a ‘ghost’ image.

The flaw is not very noticeable to the naked eye and detection of slight doubling requires high magnification and good illumination. It exists either on the left-hand side, the right-hand side, or ‘all-over’. The ‘all-over’ doubling is the rarest but the easiest to spot because the entire keyplate has a distinctly blurred impression with a ‘ghosted’ second image, particularly on the “POSTAGE” and “& REVENUE” and the forehead of the king. This is seen in a used example of the 1913 $5 (wmk. Multiple Crown CA, white back) with a Singapore d/r c.d.s. and magnified 400% for clarity. Another example shown is the 30¢ lower left corner vertical pair (wmk. Multiple Script CA). These flaws appear to be more common and more obvious on the corner copies of the bottom row. For more information, refer to ‘keyplate doubling’ in the TMP CD-ROM (8/53; 14/26, 51, 64, 70; 15/7; 19/71).

Other examples shown are, wmk. Multiple Crown CA, 10¢ (two examples, one on lhs and one on rhs), 25¢, 50¢ and $1 (all rhs) and wmk. Multiple Script CA 25¢ and 30¢ (both rhs).

Lhs: left-hand side doubling
Rhs: right-hand side doubling

As yet uncatalogued by Stanley Gibbons, the découpage flaws represent a significant chapter in the history of Straits Settlements stamps and will be eagerly sought after by collectors looking for ‘uncatalogued varieties’. Success in finding these flaws will be enhanced if one is prepared to spend many hours patiently examining large quantities of stamps, concentrates on the 10¢ and $5 denominations, and has more than just a little bit of luck.

“Detainees Mail”
“Pre War Penang Hotels”
MSG Show & Tell Display by FS Yoong

“Detainees Mail”
This section covers the following

Emergency period detainee mails into/out of Majeedi camp dated 27 Sep 49 inwards and 2nd Mar 49 outward. Outward mail sent O.G.S.

Emergency period mail into Taiping Rehabitation Camp, Taiping dated 2 Jul 50.
Emergency period mail to P.O. Box 5000 dated 11 Sep 50

Emergency period mail with square tri-lingua P.O. Box 5000 slogan cancel. Two different sizes shown.

60’s period P.O. Box 999 mail sent 29 Oct 63.

Vietnamese Boat People mail – pre printed “MRCS” and cancel 16.12.83 from Pulau Bidong to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). All refugees mail were cancelled in Kuala Lumpur. Upon arrival in Vietnam, all mail up to 90’s attracted a surtax from 2dong in the 80’s to 100dong in the 90’s. Refugees were issued ISC AL5,6,7,8 ,10 air letter sheets with hand stamp for sender which include caase no and camp information. A total of 8 types were shown.

Mail sent from Pulau Jerejak Jail and Penang Civil Jail using official – “URUSAN KERAJAAN” letter sheets. All mail were censored with the handstamp. The period for the mail are 1972 and 1977.

Last item is a cover from Hai Nan, China to Penang with blurred cancellation in the late 70’s affixed with China R18 issue. The mail was censored with stamp “DISEMAK OLEH I.P. and signature of the inspector”. No idea what I.P. meant.

“Pre War Penang Hotels”

A page showing Crag Hotel “SANATORIUM”, Penang Hill hotel cover. Cover dated PENANG HILL/B/ MR 21 1907. (Proud D3) and a multi view Penang Picture Post Card cancelled PENANG/D/AU 21 1901 (Proud D28).

Three different Runnymede Hotel envelopes cancelled 1932 to England and France with Penang (Proud M1 state 1). Also a picture post card issued by Runnymede Hotel to guests and sent from E&O hotel post office dated 4 MY 1914 (Proud D2).
In addition to the covers of Runnymede, a number of Runnymede hotel showing different facilities were shown.

A picture post card used with E&O first cancellation was shown (Proud D1); however the manuscript date was missing. The date written was 7.5.1910.

A number of E&O picture postcards were also shown highlighting the long history of the hotel.

A registered letter dated “4 DEC 1924” of E&O Proud D2 cancellation and Penang Registration Label typed E&O Hotel and 2919. A Registered envelope ISC RE4 added 2c green and 3c orange stamps all cancelled 28 SEP 1922 with Proud R2 registration chop.

E&O official hotel envelope cancelled PENANG 28 Mar 1936 Proud M1 State 5. Cover affixed with SS 5c stamp.

An On Government Service envelope dated 19 FEB 1955 from Controller of Post and the content – a Post Office Saving Bank passbook of an account in E&O Post Office.
A picture post card of Bellevue Boarding House and Raffles By-The-Sea hotel.






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