Johor: 300 Early Postcards contains picture postcards of the Malaysian state of Johor, which offer a rare opportunity to view the architecture, landscapes and lifestyles of a bygone era, from the late 19th century to the 1950s. The book begins with a brief history of the modem Johor and its postcards and includes chapters on royalty, royal visitors and government; the Johor-Singapore Causeway; the capital, Johor Bahru; and the towns, people, economy, flora and fauna of the state. kt concludes with a history of deltiology and philately in Johor.
The postcards in this volume are drawn from the author’s personal collection, built over more than 30 years, and are reproduced at, or close to their natural size and colour. As such, the book is a valuable collector’s item as well as an important historical reference. G.R. Lambert, a German photographer cum publisher, produced the earliest known picture postcard of Singapore in 1897; he also produced the earliest used picture postcard of Johor, c. 1902, in the author collection. Around 1904, a series of uncoloured picture postcards of scenes in Johor Bahru and other parts of Johor was published.
A typical example of picture postcards depicts a black-and-white photograph measuring 90 x 70 mm; the space to the right and below the picture is filled with the sender’s message. The address side is shown and undivided. The words “POST CARD” (23 x 5 mm) in red are printed at the top; there are four dotted lines and one solid line in red to guide the country of the address. The publisher’s name is not stated; it was possibly published by a photographer/publisher in Singapore. In my collection, there are 13 such picture postcards with different scenes of Johor Bahru/Johor. This kind is the first and earliest series of picture postcards of Johor.
The second series of Johor picture postcards with an embossed star and crescent in blue was issued from 1906 to 1909. The photographer/publisher is not known; the picture postcards were likely issued by the Johore Hotel as an advertisement for the establishment. The photographer/publisher could possibly have been G.R. Lambert of Singapore. A typical picture postcard with the embossed star and crescent in blue is shown in this volume; the caption at the foot of the photograph is in a large cursive script (height 10 mm). There are six different picture postcards with such a script. The same picture postcard is also issued with the caption in small capitals (height 2 mm). The picture postcard is cream-coloured; the photograph is light greyish-black, the lettering is reddish-brown. There are a total of 18 views, six of which used both large cursive and small-capital captions.
The embossed star and crescent on the picture side and the Johor coat of arms on the address side of the picture postcards give them a quasi-official look, but they are neither official picture postcards nor picture postcards issued by the Postal Department of Johor. These picture postcards have a high acid content and most of them are foxed or oxidised; few exist in pristine condition. An unusual picture postcard; a 1920 QSL (Quebec Sign Language) pc illustrated by hand with a running tiger, at the top left. It was a card sent by a radio house in Johor to announce its radio frequency details. The choice of a running tiger as its logo is apt, because tigers were common in Johor, and it was reported in 1929 that two man-eating tigers were shot dead there.