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1934 Covers & Postal History

Manchukuo Year 3 大同 Datong / From 1st March, Manchukuo Year 1 康德 Kāngdé

      

Shan-Hai-Kuan Cover

This is a registered cover sent from the town of Shan-hai-kuan (now Shanhaiguan) to London in England, mail from this town is sought after by collectors.  Shan-hai-kuan was a border town in a pass at the end of the Great Wall, it was captured by the Japanese during January 1933 and a Manchukuoan post office was soon established. On 10th January 1935, when Shan-hai-kuan became the official exchange office it was re-named Nan-sui-cheng. The renamed P.O. was issued with a plain trisected postmark with Roman lettering NANSUICHENG/Western Date/CHINCHOW, maybe as a diplomatic effort to disguise the origin of the mail by using a language few Chinese could read.

The cover was sent from Shan-hai-kwan on 12th May 1934 and shows an international transit cancel for Harbin dated 14th May. There is no arrival postmark but we know that it reached England because of the blue pencil cross which was typically applied to registered mail in England at that time.

The letter carries three "First Regular Issue" stamps 10f, 2f and 20f a total of 32f. At this time a letter to England would have cost 10f for the first 20g, 6f for the second 20g, plus the registration fee of 16f. This means that for the postage to be correct the weight must have been between 20g and 40g.

 

International "Printed Matter" Mission Covers

Printed matter (印刷物) cover sent from the Catholic Mission at Yenki with postage of 2f. The postmark is dated 12th September 1934, in this instance the year is represented by the character which could be used to signify "first year". There is no arrival postmark but the journey from Yenki to Germany would probably have taken eight or nine days via the Siberian route.

 
 
Catholic Missions in Manchukuo generated huge amounts of printed matter mail. This cover is dated 27th September 1934. It was sent from the SMRZ Post Office in Fushun to the USA. The 2 sen stamp shows that at this time both Post Offices, Manchuokoan and Japanese shared the 2f international tariff for printed matter.
 
SMRZ P.O. Postcard
 
 
This is a philatelic item, the postcard has been taken to two Post Offices to be cancelled. Firstly on 6th June 1934 it was cancelled at the SMRZ Post Office in Mukden and then on 2nd October 1934 it was taken to the Manchukuoan Post Office. This is quite an unusual item and the SMRZ cancel shown is rare. On both occasions a charge of 1½f was applicable. To see the reverse please click here.
 
Philatelic Mystery Cover
 
 
This cover is something of a riddle. The envelope is from the Hotel "Moderné" in Harbin and is clearly addressed to Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, and yet the stamp value is only 7f, well short of the 10f needed. The reverse side of this cover is blank with no sign of an excess fee or arrival date-stamp, there is also no sign that the envelope was sealed.

The postmarks are also an anomaly, the Zirkle 3 (First Anniversary of the Founding of Manchoukuo) commemorative cancels in violet are dated 1st March 1934, while the international postmarks from Harbin K1 (Kiosk 1.) are dated 8am on 2nd March 1934. This is not entirely unusual as the cover had to move from domestic to international mail, so if it was posted late in the day two different dates are possible. Could it simply have been returned to the sender? 

On a grim but historical note; At this time the Hotel Moderné was owned by a wealthy Jewish Russian Jeweller called Kaspé, in August 1933 his son Simeon Kaspé. was kidnapped by Russian Bandits believed to have been hired by local Japanese police. A ransom note was delivered demanding $300,000 for Simeon's release, Kaspé senior refused to pay. The kidnappers then cut off Simeon's ears to put pressure on his father who remained steadfast. After 90 days Simeon's body was found in a shallow grave, he had been tortured to death.

The Hotel Moderné (Modern Hotel) exists in Harbin today and has been restored to all its 1920's glory, it continues to be operated as a luxury hotel.

 
Registered Cover, Dairen to the USA
 
 
This was a letter sent to Mobile, Alabama by a crew member of the freighter SS Liberator while docked at Dairen. Perhaps it contained a Christmas greeting to a girlfriend.

The cancel is dated 23rd November 1934 from 大連山縣通 Ta-lien Shan-hsien-t’ung (Japanese - Dairen Yamagata-dōri) the Post Office at Dairen Yamagata Street Docks. From there the cover went to Dairen Central INPO where it was received the international date-stamp on 24th November 1934. The cover went via Japan and received a transit date-stamp in Kobe on 27th November 1934.

Having left Japan the cover travelled by ship to America. US transit stamp show that it landed at Seattle on 11th December 1934 and finally an arrival date-stamp confirms that it reached its destination in Mobile on 15th December 1934 a transit time of 22 days.

The postage of 26s is correct. The letter rate at this time was 10s plus 16s for registration.

 
Philatelic Cover Addressed to Japan
 
 
This cover was posted on 24th October 1934 the special cancels reads 御巡狩紀念 Commemorating the Imperial Visit. The writing in red at the top of the cover  also reads Commemorating the Imperial Visit.

If this cover travelled through the mail it must have been classed as "Printed Matter" which would have cost 1f. However there is no indication on the envelope to say that it is printed matter so my guess is that it was cancelled at the Post Office in Kirin and then taken away.

The addressee shown on the far left of the cover is a Mr Wan, and the delivery address is Osaka, Nishi-ku (West Ward), is a similar address to that shown on the back of the cover. With regard to the other markings, the red and blue stripe normally indicates "Air Mail" and the word "Registered" crossed out is yet another anomaly and the red, underlined characters at the top read "Commemorating the Imperial Visit".

 
Japanese Military Mail Sent Through (SMRZ) Field Post Offices
 
 
This is a Japanese Military Postcard sent from Mukden to Japan. In this instance both the Japanese military postmark and the shipping line dater (shown in red) use the Japanese 昭和 Shōwa year date. All mail would have been shipped via Dairen.

All Military mail at this time was sent to established Field Post Offices based within the civilian SMRZ Post Office branches at Hsinking, Mukden or 四方台 Szepingkai (now Siping). This cancel is a military Mukden "2" postmark with the date 14th March 1934, the mail was taken aboard ship for Japan on 18th March 1934, there is no arrival date-stamp to say when it was delivered. The time by sea up the coast of Korea through the Yellow sea to the Southern tip of Japan was less than 12 hours, so the card was probably delivered by March 20th or 21st.

 There is no stamp because soldiers, sailors and airmen were given an allowance of mail that they could send home free of charge. See the Military Mail section for more details.

 
Military Postcard Sent Through a Normal SMRZ PO.
 
 
The above is a Japanese Military Postcard to Japan with a postmark for 鐵嶺 Tiehling dated 12th February 1934 (Japanese Year Date 9). The sender was a Mr Yamachi Katsutoshi. Tieling was a SMRZ Post Office and does not have appear to been a designated Field Post Office and has no office number as part of the Postmark.
 
Postcard with a Native Cancel Dated 1st March 1934
 
 
This is a philatelic item with a date-stamp from 昂昂溪 Ang-ang-hsi in 黑龍江省 Heilungjiang province dated 1st March 1934, this is of course the day that Manchukuo became an empire. It may be that the collector had hoped for a commemorative cancel but none was available, however it is still nice to see a native cancel for this date. This date also marks the increase in the cost of sending a postcard from 1f to 1½f and this explains the need for the extra ½f stamp.