General issues: North Borneo Company 1883-1888, British protectorate 1888-1942, British colony 1946-1963
Country name on general issues: North Borneo
Special issues: Japanese occupation 1942-1945, British military administration 1945-1946
Currency: 1 Dollar = 100 Cent 1883-1963
Population: 175 000 in 1901, 454 000 in 1961
Political history North Borneo
North Borneo is located on the island of Borneo in southeastern Asia. Europeans first settle in North Borneo in 1865. From that date on, gradually more land is leased from the sultan of Brunei – a neighboring sultanate on the island – and the sultan of Sulu, a sultanate that currently forms part of the Philippines. In 1882, the administration of North Borneo is put in the hands of the North Borneo Company, a chartered company. In 1888, North Borneo becomes a British protectorate, the North Borneo Company remaining in charge of the administration. The territory of North Borneo is extended through additional lease agreements until, in 1898, the borders are defined. From 1890 until 1907, the charter of the North Borneo Company is extended to include the administration of Labuan, an island off the coast of North Borneo.
During WWII, North Borneo is invaded by Japan in 1941 and fully occupied in 1942. Japan forms the North Borneo administrative area which also includes Brunei, Labuan and Sarawak. After the Japanese capitulation, the British establish military administration for all British possessions on Borneo. In 1946, the British form the colony of North Borneo, revoking the charter of the North Borneo Company. The colony again includes Labuan – formerly part of the Straits Settlements. British North Borneo joins the federation of Malaysia in 1963 as the federal state of Sabah.
Postal history North Borneo
The North Borneo Company issues stamps from 1883. The issues before WWII bear the country name in Arabic, Chinese and English – the country name being ‘North Borneo’, ‘British North Borneo’, ‘The State of North Borneo’ or ‘The State of North Borneo, British Protectorate’. Issues after WWII are in English only, inscribed North Borneo.
In WWII, while occupied 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 definitives of Japanese design have been issued in 1943. Both overprints and definitives were valid throughout the administrative area of North Borneo.
After WWII, the British issue overprints on pre war issues of North Borneo and Sarawak, the overprint reading ‘BMA'‘British Military Administration’. These overprints were also valid for use throughout all the British possessions in northern Borneo. From 1947 until 1963, the colony of North Borneo issues stamps. The first issue is an overprint on previous issues in which the text ‘The State of Borneo’ and ‘British Protectorate’ are obliterated and an emblem with a crown and ‘GR'‘George Rex’ is added.
The stamps of North Borneo are succeeded by the federal issues of Malaysia, concurrent with the state issues of Sabah after 1963.