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1938 Covers & Postal History

Manchukuo Year 5 康德 Kāngdé

Harbin City Post New Years Day Cover

This is an example of the increased City Mail postage rate, from 1f to 2f. This is a special New Year's Greetings Stamp on a cover posted on New Years Day 1938. Mr Langner probably posted several of these covers to himself, either to sell or as gifts for his philatelic friends.

New Year's Greeting Cart to Japan (Re-directed)

This is a purpose made New Year's greetings card posted from Mukden in Manchukuo on 1st January 1938 to Japan - note the Mukden machine cancel. The card arrived on 4th January 1938 and a paper label was applied by a Japanese postal worker to direct the card to a new address. The original address can be seen here.

The original address was in Nagano and because the recipient was probably a Japanese Soldier on duty at this time, the slip was applied to forward the card to Matsumoto 50th Infantry Regiment, 4th Company.

Re-direction labels used by the Japanese Post Office were often printed but sometimes handwritten on scrap paper, all had to carry the Hanko (seal) of the person responsible for the redirection.


Postage Paid Mail - Harbin to Japan


Above is an item of Postage Paid mail. The only way it is possible to date this cover is from the card that, luckily, was still with the envelope. Roughly translated from the Japanese the card reads......

Happy New Year

Thank you for your patronage last year.  We hope to continue a good relationship.

Welcoming the New Year we appreciate the loyal soldiers fighting hard and pray they will continue to be victorious.

Wishing you and your family a prosperous New Year.

January 1, 1938

Harbin City, Diduan Street No. 119

National Hotel

Owner Ōno Kayoji

Manager Yamamoto Tatsugorō

The cover was posted from the 哈爾濱地段街 Harbin Diduan Street Post Office (located in the Daoli District).. The the lower part of the cancel reads 邮票别纳 No stamps needed or Satisfaction without stamps, in short - Postage Paid. The card may have been posted on New Year's Day or a day or two before.

Commercial mail of this sort is rare and to have the cover complete with its contents is a bonus.

New Year's Greetings Card

The above piece of Ephemera is a New Years Greeting Card showing the flags of Manchukuo and Japan. It is too small for any sort of postal use so it may have been as a table place setting name marker, for informal notes or for some other purpose. Printed on medium card, size 70mm x 140mm, reverse side blank.


Triple Rate Cover to Japan

This item of business mail was posted from Harbin to Nagoya in Japan on 5th May 1938. The stamps used are a 10f from the 1937 "Completion of the Five Year Plan for Re-building of the Capital" series and a 2f New Years stamp also issued in 1937.  At this time the postage rate was 4f per 20g, so it is easy to conclude that the weight of this letter was between 40g and 60g which would have cost 12f on this date.

Registered Cover to Japan
This registered cover was sent from 安東旭橋 Antung Asahi Bridge Post Office (see postmark) to Japan on 25th September 1938. The postage made up of 4 x 3f stamps is correct Letter rate 4f + Registration fee 8f. The postal markings are a red box with characters for "registered" in both Chinese and Japanese plus the grey-blue registration mark 安東旭橋205.
Registered Military Cover to Japan



This is a military cover sent from Harbin to Japan. The date of posting is 19th December 1938, this date is also written on the back of the cover. The postage was 12f - Letter rate 4f + Registration fee 8f.


Railway Cover from Mukden to Japan

This is a rare example of a railway cover sent 2nd August 1938. The letter rate of 4f is correct for a letter of under 20g to Japan at this time.

 This cover travelled from Mukden on the Fengtian/Jilin railroad on its way to Nagoya in Japan. It travelled away from Mukden on the down-line as indicated by the 下 (xià) in the lower segment of the cancel. The railway cancel means that it was sorted and cancelled on the train.

Domestic Letter Rate Commercial Cover
This commercial letter was posted from 克山 K’o-shan to the 三菱商事株式会社 Mitsubishi Corporation on 26th July 1938 and carries a special date-stamp to commemorate the third anniversary of the Manchukuo postal service. The 4f letter rate is correct for this time.
Letter Rate Dealer Cover to the U.S.A
19th October 1938. This is a cover sent by the Harbin Stamp Dealer A. S. Yaroshevitch to a Mr Phillips in Hartford, Conn, U.S.A. The Red Cross stamps used were issued on the 15th October 1938, so a few days earlier and this would have been a First Day Cover.

The rate of 20f was correct for this period, the cover has no arrival postmarks so the transit time is unknown.

Printed Matter Dealer Cover to the U.S.A.
10th October 1938. This is a cover sent my George T Murasheff a dealer in Harbin to C. G. Willard a well known American collector and publisher at that time. The cover carries the Harbin international mail cancel. The reverse of this cover is blank.

The cover is shown as being a Printed Matter cover and the stamp value of 4f demonstrates that the rate shown on my table for this type of mail is correct at this time. On 1st April 1937 the Printed Matter rate was increased from 2f to 4f and this tariff remained in force until 1st March 1942.

An Illustrated Cover to Italy.
This is a hand-made illustrated cover sent from Mukden to Positano in Italy. This is similar to covers produced by Karl Lewis, a commercial artist who lived in Japan and specialised in illustrated covers, including at least three designs sent from Manchukuo. In this instance the cover is not by him but by an unknown hand.

The cover entered the post at Mukden on 12th December 1938 and arrived at Positano on 1st January 1939 a transit time of 20 days. The envelope contained nothing and is still sealed so it is obviously intended, like those of Karl Lewis, to be a collectable artistic/philatelic item.

The postage rate of 20f is correct for an international letter that weighed less than 20g at this time.