©Lin Yangchen

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Digital elevation model from the Panchromatic Remote-Sensing Instrument for Stereo Mapping, Advanced Land Observing Satellite, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; hydrography reconstructed by WWF from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission; polygons from IGIS Map and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Cartographed by Lin Yangchen in the R Language for Statistical Computing.

The sultan who saved the coconut stamp. Major-General Sultan Sir Ibrahim ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Sir Abu Bakar Al-Khalil (1873–1959) was an only son who ruled for 64 years.

The sultan commanded the unique state-level armed forces, the Royal Johore Military Force, and was the only Malay sultan to be portrayed in military uniform. The uniform is similar to the No. 2 dress of the British Army, a departure from all previous Johore stamps, in which the sultan wore the more formal ceremonial No. 1 dress. The No. 2 almost gives the sultan an air of congeniality, befitting of the coconut definitive's rustic character as a "people's stamp". The sultan is rarely pictured wearing a beret as above; he usually wore a peaked cap in portraits.

A younger Sultan Ibrahim in No. 1 dress.

During the Malayan Emergency, Johore experienced some of the worst violence, perhaps owing to the large population of rural Chinese and large swathes of swampy jungle. This led the sultan to say famously, "my state is at war" (Holley 2014).

Police colours, complete with uniform.

Sultan Ibrahim was an Anglophile who spent his last years in London. Unsurprisingly, the Johore edition of the coconut definitive has the most westernized design features among those of the Malay states, with the sultan in western dress with tie and all inscriptions in latin.

De La Rue, 1949

Monotype Grotesque Display Bold Condensed

The typeface of johore follows that in the denomination tablets, giving the bottom panels a homogeneity of typographic style not found in the other state issues. It superficially resembles the bold condensed version of Monotype’s Grotesque Display, whose origins date from William Thorowgood’s Grotesque of 1832. But there are subtle differences, especially in the 'R', the 'E' and the slanted cut of the end of the hook of the 'J' on the stamp. Johore was the only state whose name was printed light-on-dark.

Sultan Ibrahim probably had some interest in stamp design; in 1957, he again shot down a new design, prolonging the tenure of the Johore coconut definitives beyond those of the other states.

Postmarked in Singapore in 1959, the year Sultan Ibrahim died. The destinies of Johore and Singapore are intertwined; Singapore was the birthplace of the sultan, while the Sungei Johore watershed is providing the island with fresh water for a hundred years. To this day, Johore remains a maverick state with a outspoken sultan of the same name who, like the late Ibrahim, asserts the right of Johore to plot its own destiny.

The Johore Market (built in 1894) on Sungei Segget, Johore Bahru's own romantic incarnation of the Thames in London or the Seine in Paris. The market sits on an island, evident from the bridge on either side. Sadly, Sungei Segget became one of the dirtiest rivers in the peninsula and was covered up in 2005 in an attempt to reduce the stench of sewage and rubbish. Published by G. R. Lambert & Co. Ltd.


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