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1932 Covers & Postal History

Manchukuo Year 1 大同 Datong

Transitional Covers

This is part of a batch of unaddressed covers, probably organised by a stamp dealer in Harbin for sale to collectors, they were clearly philatelic. The cover was taken or sent to Harbin Post office on or before 26th July 1932 this was the day of the transition from the Chinese Postal Service to the new Manchu State Postal Administration. Both the old Chinese stamps and the new stamps could be used at this time with the Chinese issues ceasing to be accepted on 7th September 1932. The cover shows an arrival postmark at Yung-ki dated 28th July 1932. Yung-ki is the former name of Kirin City. Such covers are rare and keenly sought after by collectors.

This is a cover from a bookstore in Harbin sent to a library in Paris, France. The cover is showing three "Junk" series stamps with the "Ki-Hie" overprint to a value of 25c, this was the correct postage for a letter from Manchukuo to Paris in 1932. The stamps are postmarked with a Harbin (Pinkiang) date-stamp and over this is applied an arrival postmark for PARIS VIII, this is dated 13th June 1932. It is not possible to read the date of the Harbin postmark but normal transit times suggest that the letter would have entered the postal system no earlier than 10th April 1932., making this a transitional cover.

Postcard with Early Cancels



This is a philatelic item, the owner collected a range of special cancels from Manchukuoan Post Office in Mukden and the Post Office belonging to the SMRZ. All of the cancels refer to Mukden and the First Anniversary of the Mukden Incident.

I have a theory that Post Offices would normally only cancel stamps of the current rate. For postcards in Manchukuo the rate was 2f at this time. The collector therefore must have started by taking the postcard to the SMRZ Post Office, the SMRZ where postcard rate was only 1˝s, he then went to the Manchukuoan post office and added ˝f to top the postage up to the Manchukuoan rate.


First Flight Cover to Tsitsihar to Tokyo

The above example is an Airmail Cover before the introduction of Airmail Stamps (postage to Japan - normal mail 4f plus 30f). The letter has an inauguration of Air Mail service commemorative cancellation (Zirkle 2 - dated 7th November 1932) and a MATC (Manchukuo Air Transport Co) "Air Mail" label. The cover was sent from Tsitsihar and the delivery address is shown as Tokyo Central Post Office.


Nippon Station, Printed Matter Cover



This cover was posted on 14th December 1932 from the Imperial Japanese Post Office in the capital Hsinking. The International Printed Matter rate is correct at 2s (per 50g). Correct that is for a Japanese SMRZ Post Office, had it been sent from a Manchukuoan Post Office it would have cost 5f.

The destination is interesting "Nippon Station" Seattle was a Special Post Office (Station) for handling mail for the Japanese residents of the city. The location was 216 Second Avenue South, Seattle, Washington. This special Post Office was established in September 1915 and could sell stamps and money orders. I assume patrons collected from, and delivered the mail to this address. The Post Office closed in January 1944. Covers to this station are extremely rare.

The 1930 census record shows a James K Matsuo, aged 50 and living in a boarding house at 520a Main Street, Seattle. James K Matsuo entered the USA as a Japanese immigrant in 1901 and in 1930 the census reveals he was an unmarried man working as a cook for the railroad. Records show he was relocated during the war and there the trail runs cold.


The First Set all with the First Commemorative Cancel


The First Commemorative Cancellation - Mukden Post Office  (Zirkle 1) This is a complete set of the First Regular Issue from Manchukuo with the First Commemorative Cancellation. Issued 18th to 19th September 1932 it commemorates the first anniversary of the notorious Mukden Incident. This cancellation only occurs in this colour.

Note the use of the 元 Yuan character. 元年 Chinese: Yuan nian = the first year of an emperor’s reign. Chinese date: 大同元年 Datong Yuan nian (the First year of Kang Teh) in Japanese: 大同元年 Datong Gannen (the First year of Kang Teh).