Brunei - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Brunei is a small country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia. The area is separated into two parts by the Malaysian province of Limbang (Sarawak state). Brunei has a land area of over 2200 square miles with a population of close to 400,000 making it fairly densely populated at around 175 per square mile – the eastern part is scarcely populated with only around 10,000 people living in the mountainous area. Brunei is mostly within the Borneo lowland rain forests although there are areas of mountain rain forests inland. It has typical tropical rainforest climate with temperatures steady throughout the year in the 25 to 30 degree centigrade range and average annual rainfall approaching 3000 mm. Thanks to its vast petroleum and natural gas reserves, the country enjoys the fifth highest GDP per capita (ppp) of over $50,000. Further, government provides for all medical services and subsidizes both rice and housing.

Travel Resources:

The beautiful rainforest at Ulu Temburong National Park, accessible by water taxi, is a fun-filled ride with stops along the way. The canopy walkway for first-timers especially is exciting. Watching the jungle rise in the wake of sunrise is a thrilling experience. Other attractions include the various museums, which house artwork from the ninth century, and the various mosques. The Arts and Handicraft Center conducts workshops for Bruneians in traditional skills, such as weaving, brass casting and keris making. Bruneian cuisine is spicy and rich like that of Singapore and Malaysia and is mostly fish and rice/noodles based.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei Country Guide978-1741048872$17652 pages with 117 maps. Brunei coverage is around 20 pages. Focus on the most popular sites.
Malaysia and Brunei Nelles Map978-3865742469$121:1,500,000 scale. Sites, parks, and beaches highlighted. Insets of Kuala Lumpur, Penange, Pangkor, Melaka, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, and Bandar Seri Begawan.
A History of Brunei978-0700716982$125presents the Sultanate from the earliest times, how it managed to stay independent in the last four centuries and the present Brunei as of 2001. Benevolent rule along with efficient oil wealth distribution makes for a content kingdom!
Brunei Grounded Adapter Plug - GUDB001FD85I0$8


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Brunei were Labuan stamps of 1902-03 Overprinted and/or Surcharged in Red with ‘BRUNEI’ and the denomination issued in 1906 – Brunei became a British protectorate in 1888 but postage stamps were issued only after the administration was transferred from the Sultan to the British Resident. Mail was routed through Labuan during this period and so Labuan stamps had to be used for International mail (outside Labuan and Brunei). The set (Scott #1 to #12) catalogs for around $700 MNH and $1000 used. For local mail (Labuan and Brunei), a local issue set of ten stamps (Scott A1 to A10) issued in 1895 was used. That set is valued at around $170 MNH and around $490 used. The first original issues were a set of 26 stamps (Scott #13 to #39) issued between 1907 and 1921. The design shows a scene on Brunei River and the set consists of several denominations in the range 1c to $25 and background colors. The set catalogs for around $550 MNH and around $1000 used.

Below are other relevant stamp issues of Brunei over the years:
  1. A set of three stamps (Scott #59 to #61) released between 1924 and 1931 showing the dwellings in the Town of Brunei. The Set catalogs for around $25 MNH and $35 used. A sister set of three stamps (Scott #76 to #78) were released in 1949 and show Sultan Ahmed in the left panel and pile dwellings of Bandar Seri Begwan. The set catalogs for around $5 MNH or used.
  2. A set of fourteen stamps (Scott #83 to #96) released on March 1, 1952 depicting Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin and River Kampong. The set catalogs for around $40 MNH and $15 used. Kampong Ayer, the water village on River Kampong is within the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan on the Brunei River. The government considers Kampong Ayer as Brunei’s most valuable heritage and supports it extensively by building numerous facilities such as a police station and clinics.
  3. A set of three stamps (Scott #144 to #146) released on September 29, 1968 showing some of Brunei’s prominent government buildings. The set is very affordable and catalogs for around a dollar MNH and $3 used. The designs show the opening of the hall of language and culture and the broadcasting and information department building. The stamps are special in that the original design had a 1967 imprint but all issued stamps have a 1968 overprint with 1967 crossed-out using four bars (horizontal lines).
  4. A set of two stamps released on December 31, 1973 (Scott #192 and #193) to mark the Winston Churchill Memorial Exhibition. The set catalogs for under a dollar MNH or used. The designs show Churchill painting outdoors and Churchill making “V” sign. This set along with the next set (Scott #194 to #209) depicting Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in a striking design in multiple colors and denominations are considered Brunei’s most recognizable stamp issues. The set catalogs for around $25 MNH and $90 used.
  5. A set of four stamps (Scott #300 to #303) issued on September 23, 1983 in the “Fishing Industry” theme. The set catalogs for around $15 MNH and $10 used. The designs show shrimp and lobster with fisherman on a boat, Pacific jacks, parrotfish and flatfish, and Tuna.
  6. A set of four stamps (Scott #313 to #316) issued on April 21, 1984 in the “Forestry Resources” theme. The set catalogs for around $20 MNH and $15 Used. The designs show enrichment planting in forest, irrigation canal, recreation forest, and wildlife.
  7. A set of five stamps (Scott #406 to #410) released on December 28, 1989 to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Oil & Gas Industry. The set catalogs for around $25 MNH and $20 used. The designs show drill, tanker, refinery, rail transport, and offshore rig.
  8. A set of nine stamps (Scott #447 to #455) released in 1992 in the Birds theme. The set catalogs for around $20 MNH or used. The designs show crested wood partridge, long-tailed parakeet, chestnut-breasted malkoha, Asian paradise flycatcher, magpie robin, white-rumped shama, great argus pheasant, Malay lorikeet, and the black and red broadbill.
  9. A horizontal strip of four stamps (Scott #572 a-d) released on September 1, 2001 to mark the “Visit Brunei Year”. The strip catalogs for around $2 MNH or used. The designs show bridge, waterfall, aerial view of city, and dock.
  10. A horizontal strip of three stamps (Scott #582 a-c) released on March 27, 2004 in honor of the Brunei National Philatelic Society. The strip catalogs for around $2 MNH or used. The designs show magnifying glass focused on Brunei’s first issue, tongs, perforation gauge with stamps, and a set of Brunei stamps and cancels.
  11. A set of twenty stamps (Scott #N1 to #N20) issued between 1942 and 1944 during Japanese occupation of Brunei during World War II. The stamps are very collectible and catalogs between $5 and and $9000 depending on the denomination. 
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Brunei were the Sultanate Half Pitis tin coins released in 1863. The tin coinage with Flag in Obverse and Inscriptions in reverse catalog in the $100 range for VF. A copper cent was also released in 1886 with similar valuation. Following a gap of almost 80 years when British coins were in use, the sultanate adopted a new monetary system (100 Sen = 1 Brunei Dollar) and bronze coins with mintage into the millions were issued starting in 1967.

Numismatic items of Brunei include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upRecent UNCs start around $2. Scarce Cannon Dollars from the 70s and 80s in VF start around $30. Commemorative Silver Proof Sets start around $100. Gold coins from the 80s and 90s trade at a sizable premium over bullion value and go into the 1000s depending on troy ounce, and mintage.
Paper Money$2 and upCommon UNC polymer banknotes start around $2. Bundles, Scarce Dates, and Numbers start around $100. Specimens, Highest denomination UNC banknotes, Uncut proofs etc can go into the 1000s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

The Arts and Handicraft Centre sells locally made jewelry, basketry, keris (ceremonial daggers), songket (traditional fabric), songkok (hats) and other gifts. In the antique category brass items are sought-after.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Antiques$100 and UpAuthentic bronze 19th century Naga (serpent design) kettles, gongs, etc start in the 100s and those with certificates from museums go into the 1000s.
Souvenirs$5 and UpRoyal Brunei Airlines giveaways start around $5. Original sultanate related photos, Boeing models, scout and military patches and equipment start around $50 and go well into the 100s.


Last Updated: 12/2015.
 

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