North Borneo Stamps: Forgeries of 8 cents surcharge on 2 cents SG3


Genuine [A]

Genuine [B]

Forgery [C]

Forgery [D]

These are the pictures I got from ebay and internet on North Borneo stamps with 8 cents surcharge on 2 cents. This shows how easy is it to find forged North Borneo stamps and it is important for us to know what's genuine and what's not.

Now, as outlined above, [A] and [B] are genuine and [C] and [D] are forgeries. Just by comparing these pictures, I'm sure you'll get the idea. But anyway, let's start by looking at these pointers:

1. If you compare the perforation between the genuine stamps and the fake stamps, you'll notice that the genuine are perforated 12 while the forged stamps are perforated 14. This is very important as most forgeries on the 2 cents stamps are perforated 14 rather than 12. The height of the stamp is approx. 22mm and by counting the vertical perforation you'll get about 13 perf. or no more than 14, whereas in the forgeries you'll often got 16 or more.

2. If you measure the letters of the surcharge (e.g. the I, E or T) in the genuine stamps you'll get about 2¼ mm high whereas in the forgeries it's only 2mm high. Unfortunately, having the right height does not necessarily mean the stamp is genuine because another batch of forgeries on this stamp have the same surcharge height as the original.

3. Now if you look at the letter "H" in the surcharge and compared it in both stamps, you'll notice that the feet of the H are joined together quite clearly shown in picture [B]. If you now look at the forgeries you'll appreciate that the feet of the H are wide apart. In picture [D], the feet of the H are very close together but they are not joined.

4. Look at the "S" letter now. In genuine stamps, the bottom half is considerably bigger than the top half. In forgeries the "S" letter is perfectly upright and the top half and the bottom halves are about the same.

5. What about the shade? Stamp [C] has a red-brown shade and is known as the Genoa forgery probably by the work of N. Imperato.

There are several other subtle differences, but I think that's all we need to know for now. Pointer no 1 is especially important and should be remembered all the time when looking and judging at this stamp. Comments are always welcomed :)


[1] Album Weeds: How to Detect Forged Stamps Part V by Earée

North Borneo Stamps: Jesselton Railway Station and Steam Train




In 1899, the West Coast Railway station was established in Jesselton. The railway connects several towns from Jesselton to Papar to Beaufort and ends in Tenom. The railway, in fact, was more important than the roads at that time and is undoubtedly a great asset for the country. For its 125 miles course, it passes many rubber estates and Government stations. It was because of this railway, Mr. Cowie (the then managing director of BNB company) was able to float off company after company during the rubber boom of 1909. In the old days, the Railway service was criticised for its notorious late starting time and arriving later still. The traveller was lucky if he reached his destination the same day, but often this is not the case as passengers quite frequently had to camp for the night in the coaches owing to a bridge having collapsed, a tree having fallen across the line, or the driver having forgotten to bring enough firewood. The trail from Beaufort to Tenom was particularly a dangerous one and the unevenness of the rails made the journey a terrifying one. Recently in 2008, after 108 years of its advent, accident still, unfortunately, happened.

[Left] 08-10-1945. South Road with the bomb damaged Jesselton Railway Station on the right. (Photographer Sgt. F. A. C. Burke)

[Right] 28-09-1945 - Men of the 2/32nd Battalion marching through the ruins of Jesselton seen from an archway at the entrance to the Jesselton Railway Station. (Photographer Lt. A. W. Horner)

During the war in 1940s, the Jesselton railway station was bombed and demolished by the Japanese army under the command of Lt. General Masao Baba. This has resulted in an interruption to the railway service in North Borneo and was virtually paralysed between 1944 - 1945. Because of its vital impartance, the railway system was targeted by the Japanese and later liberated by the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).

The depiction of the Jesselton Railway Station and the Vulcan-engine train in several North Borneo stamps signify the great importance of the transportation service to the country at that time. In fact, for many years the country has been craving for roads and North Borneo might have been described as the land without a road and as Owen Rutter puts it "...and a land in that condition is as little likely to grow as a plant without water...". Apart from a few miles of metalled road in Jesselton, Kudat and Sandakan, there wasnt a single Government highway in the country.
Today, the steam train has been ressurected for tourism purposes and is due to open for visitors again very soon as the Sabah State Government is upgrading the railway. Please check the railway's website here.

[Left] Beaufort area 01-07-1945. Members of the 2/16 Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers (RAE), acting as fireman and engineer of the locomotive engine which was captured from the Japanese by troops of 2/32 Infantry Battalion.

[Right] Beaufort area 01-07-1945. The railway engine captured by the member of 2/32 Infantry Battalion. Manned by members of 2/16 Field Company, RAE. It is now ready to move out of the yardsfor the Beaufort - Weston run.


With regards to the postal service, the train also serves as a post office and called "Train Post Office (T.P.O)". Basically, passengers drop their letters in a postal box in the train and at every transit a mail clerk sorts them out and delivers them to respective stop. There are several interesting postmark in connection with the Train Post office. These are very rare today and would definetely fetch a higher price.

North Borneo First Stamps Issue (1883-1884) - Value Guide


The British North Borneo Company acquired a royal charter in 1881. In March 1883, the first North Borneo stamps were introduced with the 2c stamp being the first issue. This is unwatermarked and perforated 12. They were designed by T. MacDonald and printed in lithography by Blades, East and Blades in London. Stamps no [1] to no [5] are perforated 12 while no [6] and [7] are perforated 14.

[1] [2] [3]

Because of a high demand for a higher values stamp, the 8 cents surcharge was introduced in June 1883. Proper stamps were later introduced in July 1883, values 4c (pink) and 8c (green) as well as the 50c (violet) and $1 (scarlet).
[4] [5] [6] [7]

The approx. prices in the table below are quoted from 3 well known stamps catalogues, namely Stanley Gibbons, Scotts and Yvert Tellier. The average price (in £) is proposed by taking an average values between these 3 catalogues but also include other catalogues. This should give you a fair idea with regards to your stamps values. However, the general market price, notably in e-bay can be somewhat lower due to increasing availability, thus a rough guide should be around 25%-70% of the said values.

S.Gibbons (£)
Yvert Tellier(€)
Average (£)
1. 2c
2. 8c on 2c
3. 8c on 2c
4. 4c
5. 8c
6. 50c
7. $1
Note: Stamp [1] to [5] should have a perforation 12. Stamp [2] has perf 14 and is therefore a forged stamp, I'm only showing the characteristic of the surcharge. Stamp [6] and [7] are perforated 14

This article is no longer maintained and is inaccurate.
Visit the following for:
Stamp issues of North Borneo
North Borneo stamps
Sarawak stamps
Brunei stamps
Labuan stamps
The Stamps Journal

North Borneo Stamps: Forgeries and Fakes


Stamps forgeries and fakes are the disease of stamps collection. Many forged stamps can be easily detected while some go unnoticed even to the experts eyes. Like many countries, North Borneo stamps are also targeted by the unscrupulous counterfeiters especially the high-value and rare stamps. The term "forgery" and "fake" are used to describe these. These term are usually used interchangably but in strict term they are quite distinct. Forgeries refer to the reproduction of existing genuine stamps to defraud collectors. Fakes on the other hand refer to genuine stamps that have been altered to increase their values and make them more presentable. This includes regumming, reperforated, marked with forged cancellations, surcharges or overprints.

North Borneo Stamps

SG 1 - North Borneo first stamp (1883)
SG 2 - 8 cents surcharge on 2 cents (1883)
SG 3 - 8 cents surcharge on 2 cents (1883)
Fournier forged surcharges (1886) Click HERE and another picture HERE
Issues of 1886-1887
Issues of 1888-1892
Issues of 1916 (Maltese cross) Reference HERE.
Japanese overprints (1944)

Labuan Stamps

Queen Issues

North Borneo & Labuan Postmark

Fake Jesselton Postmark I: 22 AUG 1911 (Madame Joseph Forgery)
Fake Jesselton Postmark II: 22 AUG 1931
Fake Jesselton Postmark III: 22 AUG 1941
Fake Jesselton Postmark IV: 20 AU 49 (Dash before Jesselton)
Fake Jesselton Postmark V: 15 JA 48
Fake Beaufort Postmark: 14 NOV 1918
Fake Kudat Postmark: AU 15 1899
Fake Labuan Postmark I: Oval of 9 bars (1883-1908)
Fake Labuan Postmark II: 28 JUL 1910
Fake Labuan Postmark III: 11 NOV 1946
Fake Sandakan Postmark I: Oval of 14 bars (1887-1891)
Fake Sandakan Postmark II: Eye-shaped with 19 bars (1889-1894)
Fake Sandakan Postmark III: 23 JUN 1886 (Fournier Forgery)
Fake Sandakan Postmark IV: 11 MAR 1887
Fake Sandakan Postmark V: 16 JAN 1916
Fake Sandakan Postmark VI: 1 NOV 1918
Fake Japanese Occupation Postmark I: "17 11 21" (21 NOV 1942)
Fake Japanese Occupation Postmark II: "18 3 1" (1 MAR 1943)

Note: These are the well-documented forgeries and fake postmarks of North Borneo stamps.
I believe, there are many more unnoticed and suspicious postmark around.

Sarawak Stamps

Brunei Stamps


North Borneo Stamps list of Postmarks



Please go to the Updated List of North Borneo Postmarks HERE


From the first issues through c. 1912, most North Borneo stamps have been cancelled with an oval of bars. Stamps with clear postmark of dated town are evidently more attractive and sells for much higher prices. Some of the rarest North Borneo postmark include Airmail postmark (1930), Paqueboat postmark, Silam, Gayah and other small town cancels. 4 commonest postmarks are from Sandakan, Kudat, Jesselton and Victoria (Labuan). "Common" foreign cancels on North Borneo stamps may include Singapore and to a lesser extent, Hong Kong. There are also some fiscally cancelled marks.The Japanese occupation of Borneo introduced a new addition to the variety of postmarks in North Borneo stamps. Because the British Borneo was administered under one administration not only during the Japanese occupation but also during the BMA, some North Borneo stamps may have cancels from towns in Sarawak and Brunei. With regards to Labuan stamps, very few cancels are seen from outside the island of Labuan.

North Borneo Postmark:
Jesselton Oval bars (1910-1955)
Jesselton Registered Marks (R)
Jesselton Avis de Reception (AR)
Jesselton Paid (PD)
Jesselton Parcel Post (PP)
Jesselton Unpaid (UP)
Jesselton Instructional Mark (I)
Jesselton Ship Letter (Paquebot)
Beaufort Registered Mark (R)
Fort Birch
Gantian Registered Mark (R)
Gayah (1885-1897)
Gaya (1898-1899)
Keningau Registered Mark (R)
Keningau Unpaid (UP)
Kota Belud
Kudat Oval bars (1890-1894)
Kudat Registered Mark (R)
Kudat Avis de Reception (AR)
Kudat Unpaid (UP)
Kudat Instructional Marks (I)
Labuan doted and oval postmark
Labuan Registered Marks (R)
Labuan Unpaid Mark (UP)
Labuan Instructional Marks (I)
Labuan Ship Letter (Paquebot)
Lahat Datu
Lahad Datu (Lahad Dato)
Lahad Datu Registered Mark (R)
Lahad Datu Unpaid (UP)
Lahad Datu Airmail (AM) [Note: Jesselton AM]
Lahad Datu Ship Mail (Paquebot)
Membakut Registered Mark (R)
Mempakul Oval bars
Papar Registered Mark (R)
Sandakan doted and bars cancels
Sandakan Hand Stamp Slogan (HS) British Empire Exhibition 1922
Sandakan Registered Mark (R)
Sandakan Avis de Reception (AR)
Sandakan Parcel Post
Sandakan Postage Paid (PP)
Sandakan Unpaid (UP)
Sandakan Instructional Marks (I)
Sandakan Ship Letter (Paquebot)
Semporna Registered (R)
Sipitang Registered Marks (R)
Tamparuli Registered Marks (R)
Tanjong Aru
Tawao (Tawau)
Tawau Registered Postmark (R)
Tawau Instructional mark (I)
Tawau Ship letter (Paquebot)
Tenom Registered Marks (R)
Tenom Unpaid (UP)
Mobile P.O. (1962-1963)
Train P.O.
Train Registered Mark (R)
Japanese Occupation Postmark (1942-1945)
BMA postmark (1945-1946)
Hong Kong
Fiscal / Revenue Cancels:

1. Revenue Stamps

    Revenue Stamps
    Revenue Surcharges

2. Banks

    State Bank of North Borneo
    Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank
    New Oriental Bank Corp. Limited
    Chartered Bank of India

3. Commercial

    Abrahamson, Sandakan
    Albert W. Nieuveld   
    Australia & China Telegraph Co.
    Behn Meyer & Co. Sandakan
    Darby & Company B.N.B
    Hadjee Adamsahib & Co.
    Harrisons & Crossfield
    Jardine Matheson & Co. Ltd
    J.O. Keasbury, Labuan
    Lorentson & Co.
    Lo Tian Cheok & Co.
    Mansfield Bogaart
    North Borneo Trading Co.
    Sabah Steamship Co.
    Ward Son & Co. Labuan

4. Customs

5. District Office

    Fort Birch

6. Government Seal

7. Harbour Master

8. Immigration

9. Land Office

    West Coast

10. Legal
    Judicial (Perfin)

11. Judicial Department


12. Magistrates Court

    Lahad Datu

13. Sessions Court
    British North Borneo

14. Registrars Office

15. Resident's Office

    Keppel Province

16. Postal
    Jesselton GPO
    Sandakan PO

17. Telegraph Office

18. Treasury Department

Fake & Forged North Borneo Postmark:
Look Here



"Designs in connection with postage stamps and coinage may be described, I think, as the silent ambassador on national taste"

William Butler Yeats, Irish Poet, 1865-1939

I am a stamps collector and my stamps collection include countries like US, Great Britain, British Colonies and North Borneo. I like North Borneo stamps in particular because of the rich illustrations and history associated with them and the fact that the country is no longer exist.

With this blog I would like to share my fascination about stamps collection from this country as well as sharing my little knowledge about them.


Some Useful Links:
The Stamps Journal
Cherrystone Auctions
Philasearch (Brunei)
Philasearch (Labuan)
Philasearch (N. Borneo)
Philasearch (Sarawak)
Philasearch (Malaya and States)
Interasia Auction