Although the reasons which prompted the Government of Sarawak to order a stamp are not known, it is probable that it was intended to serve both postal and fiscal purposes.
The stamp illustrates a portrait bust of the first Rajah - Sir James Brooke, framed in a narrow colorless oval against an engine-turned background. Above the head, in colorless serif capitals, is the word 'SARAWAK' in a curved line following the arc of the oval. Below is the rectangular tablet bearing the value THREE CENTS in colorless non-serif capitals on a colored background. In each corner of the stamp appears an initial, the upper two enclosed in small colored circles and the lower two in squares at each end of the tablet of value. They read J B R S and represent James Brooke, Rajah, Sarawak. The whole design, in a vertical rectangular format, is enclosed bya thin colored frameline, and measures 26 1/2 mm. x 19 mm. The spandrels in each corner are ornamented with a foliate design and the three-quarter face portrait looks towards the right of the stamp.
The design is the work of the celebrated engraver William Ridgway who was later to be entrusted with the work of designing the second issue of Sarawak bearing the head of Sir Charles Brooke, the second Rajah.