So how did Labuan have such interesting stamps? And where is Labuan? (Extra credit if you already know ;-) And what about those Queen Victoria 1894 issue lithographic forgeries? And why, despite the very attractive designs, are Labuan stamps so inexpensive "used"? Read on...
Labuan, meaning "Harbor" in Malay, is a small island, about 35 square miles in area, 5 miles off the north-west coast of Borneo, facing the South China Sea.
Labuan was originally part of the Sultanate of Brunei. But the British wanted to set up a base to combat piracy in the area, and the island was ceded to them. The island became a Crown Colony in 1848, and James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, was appointed Governor.
Labuan subsequently became a coaling station for the South China Seas trade.
Labuan was then administered by the British North Borneo Company, beginning in 1890. The Company had already administered the North Borneo Colony, on a charter grant from the British Government, since 1881.
Direct British government rule was resumed in 1904, and in 1906, the territory became part of the Straits Settlements
The population during the classical era of Labuan was 9,000, and the Capital was Victoria.
Subsequently, Labuan was occupied by the Japanese during WW II (called Maida Island). The Straits Settlements generally- including Labuan- were liberated in 1945, and then were under British military administration until 1946, when British North Borneo was established.
In 1963, the State of Sabah ,which included Labuan, became part of Malaysia.
In 1990, Labuan was declared an international financial center and free trade zone.
Stamps were produced for Labuan between 1879-1905, although stamps of the Straits Settlements had been postmarked there since 1867. The 1879-1894 era had the image of Queen Victoria, while the 1894-1901 stamps had images of North Borneo stamps, but printed in different colors, and overprinted 'Labuan". In 1902, a set of Labuan Colony only stamps were issued with a "Crown" image.
So where did the cheap supply of "used" Labuan stamps come from? Sometime during the late period of the British North Borneo Company administration of Labuan (1890-1906), almost all of the postal issues were cancelled to order (C.T.O.) with an oval bar cancellation. These stamps are still usually CV <$1.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Stamp Album: Labuan and the Victoria Forgeries.