Straits Settlements Collection

Singapore was a British Colony from 1819 to 1965, and was part of the Straits Settlements from 1826 to 1946. The Straits Settlements Collection documents Singapore's early philatelic history and heritage. Many interesting and rare archival materials such as essays, proofs, trials, specimens, and stamps issued during the early Straits Settlements are in the Collection.

View the Straits Settlements Collection at the Room of Rarities

Only known 4 Indian stamps Cover


This is the only known Straits Settlements cover used in Singapore, bearing all four 1854 values of Indian stamps used in the Straits Settlements. These stamps illustrate that at that time, Singapore was under the East India Company and under British Indian rule. The cover documents significant postal milestones in Singapore. That is, the use of stamps on the cover after stamps were first introduced in 1854, and mails were sent from Southeast Asia to Europe via sea routes to India followed by overland route to Europe.

Earliest B172 Cancellation Cover


This cover has the earliest known date of the B172 obliterator. Letters sent from Singapore, Penang and Malacca (which made up the Straits Settlements) used the same Indian stamps. To distinguish letters which were sent out from the three Settlements, numbers were assigned. "B172" for Singapore, "B109" for Malacca, and "B147" for Penang.

Bisect Stamp Cover


From 1855 to 1860, stamps of various denominations in Singapore were not available. To alleviate the shortage, the Postmaster cut existing stamps diagonally to double the quantity. These are the first and last time stamps in Singapore were bisected. Hence these stamps on the cover are very rare and much sought after. They are of historical and philatelic significance.

Only Known Edwardian Essays, 1901


Essays are artworks produced by stamp designers. When Queen Victoria passed away, United Kingdom was faced with the challenge of producing new stamp designs after using the queen's head for 60 years. These photographic essays were produced but were not adopted. They are the only known copies.

The Straits Settlements adopted the De La Rue "Postage & Revenue" Universal Key Plate Design instead. The design features King Edward VII head for all values of its new issue of stamps in 1902.

1903-04 Imperforate Plate Proofs of Local Design


For the first time during the history of the Straits Settlements, local designs were introduced. These designs were prepared by Mr Noel Trotter (Postmaster General of Straits Settlements) and Mr W Egerton (later Sir Walter Egerton, Governor of British Guiana).

Proofs are produced to enable the engraver to see that his work are reproduced as he intended, for submission to the printers for technical approval, to the issuing authorities for approval of the design as engraved on the die, and also for record purposes. These documents are of great philatelic interest, as they are rarely available.