John V Sweet (Ivan V. Svit)




John V Sweet was the adopted name of Ivan V. Svit, a Ukrainian he lived in Harbin throughout most of the Manchukuo period. John (or Ivan) was a journalist, writer, historian and enthusiastic stamp collector and part time dealer.

From 1932 to 1937 he was the editor of a Ukrainian Weekly Newspaper, secretary of the Harbin Ukrainian Club and was the Representative for Union of Ukrainian Emigrants in Manchuria. In 1934 he also edited The Manchurian Herald's Stamp Monthly, a Harbin based periodical. The cover below shows he was still living in Harbin in June 1940 where he was acting as secretary for the Harbin Philatelic Club (a section of the Harbin Commercial Club) established earlier in the year.. In November of 1941 he moved his business to 101 Seymour Road, Shanghai (PO Box 4098) and continued trading as a stamp dealer. He survived the war and was still in China until at least 1947.

John later moved to New York, but during his time in Manchukuo he regularly submitted articles about stamps to the The China Stamp Society's journal, The China Clipper sending news from Harbin of new issues and varieties he had discovered. He was the Editor of the Journal of the Ukrainian Philatelic and Numismatic Society (Est. 1951) from 1961 until 1972.


This cover was posted on 1st November 1944 from Harbin to I. V. Svit in Changhai (Shanghai). It shows him as being a Ukrainian Émigré and is one of the few covers I am aware of addressed to him using his original Ukrainian name.


This is a cover sent by John V Sweet to Warsaw in Poland from Harbin. From the arrival postmark it is possible to read that this letter was sent in July 1930.    



This is a cover which no doubt contained stamps sent by John V Sweet to the American stamp dealer, Harry Tamer. The postage totals 36f - foreign letter rate 20f (to 20g) plus a registration fee of 16f.

This is a First Day Cover posted from Harbin on 26th June 1940 as shown by the Harbin International Cancel, (bottom right). Travelling on the South Manchuria Railway the letter reached Moukden on 28th June as shown by the transit postmark (bottom left). At Mukden Central Post Office (Moukden A) a registration label 415 was applied over an existing Harbin registration label which reads "Harbin 359". The letter will then have gone on to Dairen, by ship to Japan (probably Kobe) and on to New York arriving on 18th July 1940 and reaching New Milford a day later as shown by the transit and arrival postmarks on the back of the envelope.

The cover is interesting because it was sent via Japan, instead of the normal route through Siberia and shows a transit time of 23 days. This time is comparable to the Siberia route. It seems surprising that post office customers were allowed to choose the route taken by mail, instead of this decision being taken by the Post Office.


This is a registered cover sent from Carrollton, Michigan to Harbin by a known stamp collector A. E. Schaefer of Saginaw. The cover shows stamps to the value of 20c.

The postmark for Carrollton is dated Jan 4th 1939, also shown is an arrival postmark for New York, Jan 5th 1939, and a departure postmark of New York Jan 6th 1939 then finally leaving the USA via San Francisco on Jan 10th 1939. The cover also shows a Harbin arrival postmark dated Feb 1st 1939. A total transit time of 27 days.