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Prior to 1895 Brunei used the stamps of Sarawak. When Brunei first issued postage stamps in 1895 there were considered to be local issues for quite some time. The stamps were produced in Glasgow for John Robertson who had agreed a monopoly commission with his Majesty the Sultan Hashim under which the government received all internal revenues whilst he received external revenues. As the stamps could only be used in Brunei they were referred to as ‘locals’. Brunei mail sent abroad had to have additional Labuan stamps added as Brunei was not a member of the universal postal union (UPU) at this stage. It wasn't until the 1930s that evidence was found that changed the status of these stamps from 'locals'. These 1895 stamps depict a star and crescent.
1895 Star and Crescent stamp
Following the appointment of a British Resident in Brunei in 1906 the Brunei government started to operate its own postal service and postage stamps were ordered. However, due to delays in receiving these stamps it was decided to overprint (and in some cases surcharge) Labuan stamps for use in Brunei as a temporary measure. This overprinting was carried out in Singapore. The stamps were issued in October 1906.
Overprinted Labuan stamp.
It was in 1907 at the first Brunei stamps arrived. These were known as the 'Brunei River Stamps' as the stamps depicted a typical Brunei River scene. The stamps were produced by the London firm of Thomas De La Rue.
Brunei River Scene
There were five distinct issues of stamps using this design and this website has separate pages for each of the group of stamps produced.
The 1907 issue, which was the first issue of these stamps.
The 1908 issue featured changes in colours and new values added.
The 1916 issue featured further colour changes.
The 1924 issue introduced a new watermark along with some colour changes.
The 1947 issue had colours changed, new values and perforation varieties.
Details of the printings and dates of issue of each of these can be found in the relevant sections on the website.