The rattan business started as early as 1890's when the Chinese came to Sarawak to trade.
Many articles were written about the collecting of rattan in Sarawak from 1824, the time James Brooke founded Sarawak.
The Sarawak Gazette carefully recorded trade in rattan , timber and other natural resources. It also mentioned a lot of other interesting business dealings.
The Penans for example were described as people who harvested "rattan and sold them at tamus, allocated by the government officers."
By 1950, rattan was already exported to Singapore and further afield, perhaps even the UK.
Throughout the 1950's and 1960's rattan was transported from the upper reaches of rivers of Sarawak to the lower parts of the rivers and then exported by selected Chinese middlemen. This photo shows rattan bundles atop a big express boat.
This photo is from Mahmud Yussop of Bintulu.