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Manchurian Local Overprints 1945 - 1947

Japanese Kerr 54.



Other Names

Harupin Harbin Harbin


  哈 爾 濱



Pinkiang (Map)

  (Pinkiang)   Charbin Haerpin
  Map of 1945     Ha-erh-pin
When the Japanese Army left Harbin in 1945 looters (many from the occupying Russian army) stole much of the stock of Manchukuoan stamps from the main Post Office in Harbin. These were sold to stamp dealers in the city, of which there were many. 

For a short time before the arrival of the Nationalist army, Post Offices had to use overprinted stamps from Changchun, these were replaced in February 1946 when locally produced overprints became available. To add to the confusion dealers in Harbin obtained copies of local overprints from surrounding districts and had these cancelled to order using a Harbin date-stamp. These stamps can cause some identification difficulty for collectors when they appear on covers as they do not represent genuine postal usage.

Dr Sun Yat Sen on Newsprint  issue overprinted "Restricted for use in the North East". Issued by the Chinese Directorate of Posts for the North East. This has no local overprint and the early date indicates it was probably cancelled before or during the introduction of the 1st Overprint shown below. It is likely have been cancelled to order for a Harbin stamp dealer and it may be a first day cover as this overprint is known to have been introduced in February 1946. Note the three stars in place of the time in the bottom segment of the cancel, this is typical of "cancelled to order" usage.

One of the first cigarette manufacturers in China, A. Lopato & Sons of Harbin was established in 1898. The company was acquired by British American Tobacco in 1913 and in 1952 the Chinese took control of all British American Tobacco businesses in China. They were the makers of Sower and Lion cigarettes together with other brand names.

NOTE - Examples of these stamps overprinted with "SPECIMEN" in English are fakes. They usually appear on fake specimen sheets.

  1st Overprint, 26th Ferbruary 1946 - A very clear red four character typeset overprint reading 中華民國 Chinese Republic. Look for the two short lines at the base of the top right hand "chung" character, these are typical of the "Ti" Type style used for the overprint.  
This is a First Day Cover produced for a Harbin dealer and cancelled to order. Like the item shown above it is on a Lopato envelope, eventually I hope to identify the dealer using this stock of envelopes - watch this space.
  According to Chiu's Supplement (Vol 6.) stamps of the second printing had the right hand margins were removed, this was because the margins were of different widths and by removing them the printers could improve the alignment of the overprints. So if, like those above, a right hand margin is present it means they must be First Printing examples (assuming Chiu is correct in this).  



Overprint Proof


2nd Overprint, March 1946  The same typeface and machine produced overprint reading 中華民國 Chinese Republic. This time in a deeper red/carmine colour although the colours are so similar it is difficult to be sure of this set.


Quality control with this printing was high so stamps with an overprint as poorly centred as this example are unusual.


Example of the 50f stamp used in 富拉爾基 Fu-la-erh-ch'i (Fularki) on 14th May 1946. This is a town on the railway line to Siberia, West from Harbin near Angangki. This town is not known to have produced any unique overprints of its own. The above stamp may have been used by a traveller while in transit.



First Day Cover on a plain envelope produced for a Harbin dealer and cancelled to order.


Overprint Proof


11th Overprint, May 1946  Chiu reports that when the Communists captured Harbin 28 April 1946 they were responsible for changing the colour of the overprint to black while using the same type setting. The cover above shows this not to be the case it is more likely that the Nationalists simply ran out of red ink as a result of wartime shortages. I also note that Yang does not show this stamp in his list of Communist issues.

Mirror Offset of the above.



50f on 2f


1Y on 13f


  2Y on 30f  

4Y on 1Y    


4th Overprint, 15th August 1946    Machine overprinted by the Dongji Printing House, Harbin. A series of commemorative overprints  "The 1st Anniversary of the Japanese Surrender" with surcharges, above is the full set. It is interesting to note that Western numerals appear in this issue.

Mirror Offset of the 50f on 2f



First Day Cover - Cancelled to Order



The following commemorative overprints appear on stamps printed by the Hsin Min press and surcharged with new values using a black typeface made up of Sung No 5 with additional characters reading Restricted for use in the North East. Due to wartime shortages the Hsin Min press were forced to use a variety of different papers to complete the contract and as a result more than one type of paper can be found for some of the stamps shown below.

Type 1 - Newsprint (off white with a slight screen texture)
Type 2 - Yellowish White Paper
Type 3 - White Paper (white and smooth)
Type 4 - Soft Native Paper




         50f on 5Y Papers 1 & 3


1Y on 10Y Papers 1,2 & 3




          2Y on 20Y Paper 1


4Y on 50Y Papers 1, 2 & 3


5th Overprint (Communist Issue) 2nd September 1946 - Victory Commemoration chop on North East provincial issue stamps overprinted "Restricted for use in the North East". Issued by the Chinese Directorate of Posts for the North East.

Mirror Offset of the 50f on 5f

Feint Mirror Offset 1Y on 10Y


      50f on 5Y Paper 1 1Y on 10Y Papers 1,2 & 3

     2Y on 20Y Paper 1


4Y on 50Y Papers 1 & 3  also exists with a red overprint.


  4Y on 50Y Paper 1 - Variety (red overprint, rare).  

6th Overprint (Communist Issue), 10th October 1946 - Double Tenth Commemoration chop on North East provincial issue stamps overprinted "Restricted for use in the North East". Issued by the Chinese Directorate of Posts for the North East.

Note: These commemoratives celebrate the anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising of 10th October 1911. This uprising led to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China.




As above - Spock Ear Error.


As above - Bruised Forehead Error.


These stamps have been identified by using Volume II of the Stamp Catalogue of China by Shui-Hon Chan and the four booklet guide The Local Overprinted Stamps of Manchuria 1945-7 by Allen D Kerr (published 1978 and now out of print). Both works are essential for anyone delving seriously into this subject.

Additional information from Chiu's Supplements and The Postage Stamp Catalogue of the Chinese People's Revolutionary War Period.