Under the East India Company Administration the postage stamps of India were used at Malacca, Penang & Singapore from 1854. Collectors can search out stamps from the Indian 1854 imperfs onwards cancelled at Malacca with the “B/109” postmark, at Penang with the “B/147” or a circular datestamp, and at Singapore with the “B/172” or a circular datestamp. All the Indian stamps postmarked at these early Post Offices are listed by Stanley Gibbons, they are elusive and include perhaps the rarest items with 8 different bisects on covers catalogued between £21,000 and £250,000!
The British formed the settlements of Malacca, Penang and Singapore into a Crown Colony in 1867 and issued the first stamps of the Straits Settlements on 1 September 1867.
The rarest stamps of the Straits Settlements are probably the magnificent King George V $500 purple and orange-browns in mint condition which can sell for amounts in the region of £100,000 each.
The 19th Century stamps include many surcharged issues, collectors recognise different types of the same surcharge as available typefaces were limited and a single sheet of stamps might include up to 11 different surcharge types in different quantities, some being very rare and occurring only once in a full setting of 60.
Stamp issues ceased when the Japanese invaded in 1942.
The stamps and postal history of the Straits Settlements, rich in history and specialisation such as the many surcharge types & overprint errors, “Specimen” overprints, plate flaws, watermark errors and different printings represents the largest and most intricate area in Malaysian philately.