A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Japan 1924-1940

1935 Scott 220 6s carmine
"White Tower of Liaoyang and Warship Hiei"
Quick History
Japan's Industrialization, Militarization, and Nationalism throughout the early 20th century culminated in its alliance with the "Axis", Germany and Italy, in WW II, and a huge swath of  lands were occupied in Asia and the Pacific.

Japanese Empire Expansion 1870-1942
Korea had been annexed in 1910, and Taiwan had been occupied since 1895. A puppet state (Manchukuo) had been set up in Manchuria in 1932 after an invasion. Inner Mongolia and the  Republic of China adjacent to the Yellow Sea were occupied by 1937. Hong Kong, Canton, Tonkin and Hanoi were all occupied. All of French Indochina, Burma, Thailand, British Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, Guam and the Philippines were under the Empire by 1942.

And then the tide turned in the Battle of Midway in June,1942. Pearl Harbor had been attacked in December,1941, and the United States had subsequently declared war on Japan.

On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and three days later, on Nagasaki. 120,000 people perished as a result.

The Empire of Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, and American forces occupied the country.

With that sobering background, what sort of stamp production occurred, and what themes were displayed on the stamps of Japan during 1924-1940, the period of this post?

Let's take a look.

1927 10s blue 
"Map of World on Mollweide's Projection"
50th Anniversary of Japan joining the UPU
Into the Deep Blue
A closer look at the stamps and issues

1924 Scott 188 5y gray green "Empress Jingo"
Although Japan would pursue an expansionistic aggressiveness toward its neighbors the next 20 years, the higher denomination definitive stamp design of 1924, the Empress Jingo, (or Jingu) reflected only a nationalistic pride in this legendary heroine of the 3rd century. She had first appeared on a banknote in 1880, so this is a continuing theme. She had also appeared on 1908 stamp issue, illustrated in the previous post.

1925 Scott 191 "Phoenix"
A four stamp issue was released in 1925 in honor of the 25th wedding anniversary of Emperor Yoshihito and Empress Sadako. I'm not sure why a phoenix is the design for two stamps: perhaps because it is long-lived?

1927 Scott 1 1/2s lilac 
"Baron Hisoka Maeshima"
On the 50th anniversary of Japan joining the UPU, a four stamp issue was released. Baron Hisoka Maeshima organized the modern postal system.

1928 Scott 202 1 1/2s deep green "Phoenix"
Enthronement of Emperor Hirohito
Emperor Hirohito, on this happier occasion of his enthronement, had a four stamp issue released in 1928. As it was taboo to illustrate him, this image shows a phoenix. Arising from the ashes and long lived?

1929 Scott 206 1 1/2s gray violet 
"Great Shrines of  Ise"
For a rebuilding of the Shrines of Ise, a two stamp issue was released in 1929. But the reason for showing this stamp is the exquisite perspective and proportion of the design.

1929 Scott 207 3s carmine
"Map of Japanese Empire"
The second stamp in the preceding issue revels the extent of the Japanese Empire. Notice Taiwan (1895) and Korea (1910) are part of the Empire. By 1932, Manchuria (Manchukuo) would be added.

1930 Scott 210 1 1/2s green "Meiji Shrine"
For the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the Meiji Shrine, a two stamp set was issued. The design beauty- and peacefulness- of the stamp with the aggressive militarization of Japan are hard to reconcile.

1934 Scott 217 10s blue & red 
"15th International Red Cross Conference"
In 1934, a four stamp design was produced for the International Red Cross conference. Again, I'm having a difficult time reconciling the apparent support for the Red Cross, and the millions of civilians-especially Chinese- that died while their lands were occupied.

1935 Scott 218 1 1/2s olive green 
"White Tower of Liaoyang and Warship"
On the occasion of the Manchukuo Emperor Kang Teh visiting Tokyo, a four stamp issue was released in 1935. He was head of the puppet government set up by the Japanese after the invasion of Manchuria. The stamp design clearly shows the Navy might of Japan.

1936 Scott 226 10s dark blue 
"Fuji from Mishima"
Beginning in 1936, a number of four stamp sets were produced illustrating National parks- here Fuji-Hakone National Park. There were additional sets produced in 1938, 1939, 1940, and 1940.

1936 Scott 227 1 1/2s gray violet 
"Dove, Map of Manchuria, and Kwantung"
On the 30th anniversary of the leased South Manchuria Railway Zone, a three stamp design was issued in 1936.  The reality is Manchuria was now part of the Japanese Empire.

1936 Scott 231 3s brown violet "Grand Staircase"
Nicely designed, this four stamp set was issued for the opening of the new Diet building in Tokyo.

1937 Scott 256 2s scarlet "New Year's Decoration"
This stamp was issued specifically to pay postage for New Year's cards. There was also a stamp released in 1936 for the same purpose.

1938-39 Coil Stamps
Scott 277 2s crimson "Gen. Maresuke Nogi"
Scott 278 4s dark green "Admiral Heihachiro Togo" 
A nineteen stamp regular issue was released in 1937, with an additional four stamp coil issue produced in 1938-39. Most of the designs are of Shrines and Temples, but the two military heroes above were also featured.

Nogi Maresuke was a war hero, and admired for his loyalty and ritual suicide. On the day of the funeral of Emperor Meiji, he committed suicide. But that was not the first time-when he captured Port Arthur from the Russians in the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War, he felt that he had lost too many soldiers in battle, and requested that he be given permission to commit suicide from the emperor. But that request was refused. This stamp then- appropriately blood red- glorified a hero that gave all to the country- to the point of suicide.

Togo Heihachiro was a great naval war hero He was responsible for destroying the Russian Baltic fleet in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War.

1937-45 Regular Issue
Here is a pic of the entire regular issue for 1937-45. These were the main regular stamps used on correspondence during WW II.
1938 Scott 281 4s olive green  "Kegon Falls"
For Nikko National Park, a four stamp set was issued in 1938. I rather wonder if the National Parks issues of Japan were inspired or modeled after the U.S. 1934 National Parks issue?

1939 Scott 297 10s crimson "Globe"
For the 75th anniversary of the Red Cross Society founding, a four stamp set was issued.

1940 Scott 299 2s brown orange 
"Sacred Golden Kite"
For the legendary founding of Japan 2,600 years previous, a four stamp issue was produced. The Order of the Golden Kite, was established in 1890 by Emperor Meiji for bravery in military battles. About 630,000 medals were awarded for the Pacific War (WW II).

1940 Scott 305 10s carmine
"Sounkyo Gorge"
Another four stamp series illustrating scenes from national parks- this time Daisetsuzan National Park- was produced in 1940. Reminds me of the El Capitan,Yosemite pictorial from the U.S. 1934 National Parks issue

1940 Scott 313 2s purple 
"Education  Minister with Rescript on Education"
On the 50th anniversary of the imperial rescript on education, a two stamp design was issued. Look at the fine engraving on this stamp!

Semi-postal 1937 Scott B2 3s + 2s purple
"Douglas Plane over Japanese Alps"
The only semi-postals issued during the classical era were this three stamp 1937 issue. The surtax was to help build more civil airports.

Air Post 1929-34 Scott C3
"Passenger Plane over Lake Ashi"
Only a few Air Post stamps were issued prior to 1940. This is part of a 1929-34 five stamp issue. Of interest, the lowest denomination stamp (above illustrated) has the highest CV @ $10+.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has, including the 1924-40 issues, twenty-one pages. Also included are 5 pages for the national Parks souvenir sheets. In addition, this includes four pages for the Offices in China and Korea: a category in which I have no examples. ;-)

1938-39 National Parks Issues, Deep Blue
As usual, Deep Blue follows the Scott catalogue exactly, so knowing where to put stamps is not a problem, even though the spaces are not illustrated.

1935 Scott 222 1 1/2s rose carmine "Mt Fuji"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, for the 1924-40 regular issues, semi-postal, air post stamps, and offices, has 6 pages and one line.
There are 105 spaces  for the regular, semi-postal and air post categories (Coverage 77%). There are an additional 16 blank space choices for Offices (25%). There is no coverage for Military stamps (5).
Total spaces are 121 (56% coverage).

• The commemorative 1924-40 issues are well represented in BB.
• There are 9 stamp spaces with CV $10+: of those, four are $35+, with the 1936 Scott 229 10s dull green @ $130!




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Next Page

Air Post

Offices in China
Eight spaces: choose Scott 1-49

Offices in Korea
Eight spaces-choose Scott 1-15 


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1925 Scott 192 8s light red ($10+)
1925 Scott 193 20s  silver & gray green  ($35)
1927 Scott 200 6s carmine rose ($45)
1927 Scott 201 10s blue ($45)
1936 Scott 226 10s dark blue ($10)
1936 Scott 227 1 1/2s gray violet ($10)
1936 Scott 228 3s red brown ($10+)
1936 Scott 229 10s dull green ($130)!
1939 Scott 293 20s sapphire ($10)

B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

C) * 1924: 188 and 189 are eligible; 253 and 254 are not because of 1937 date of issue.

D) *1925: Be aware that for 195, the 6s carmine, there is a 1937 Scott 244 that is  not eligible based on dates. Also, the 196 is the 10s dark blue. Not eligible here is the 1937 Scott 197 10s carmine, or the 1937 Scott 247 10s carmine.

1939 Scott 267 12s indigo 
"Plane and Map of Japan"
Out of the Blue
Japan, for 1924-40, have aesthetically pleasing stamps. There are some overt militaristic stamps, but not many. The devotion and loyalty to a feudalistic Empire, with the many shrines and temples, is, though, very evident.

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain.

Japan - Bud's Big Blue

Have a comment?


  1. Jim,
    Amazing work, as always! The totals for this section are 106 + 16, for a total of 122. No need to post, of course.


  2. Joe

    I'm posting your comment because I really appreciate your very accurate count of spaces in the Big Blue album for the '69/'97 editions.

    In fact, I would like to publish your count totals as a specific post to get that information out to the general Big Blue blog audience. I need your permission though. :-) You, of course, would be given full acknowledgment and credit for your work in the post. Let me know. ;-)

  3. Hi Jim-

    Your Scott 238 Kegon Falls appears to be upside down! Thank you for the time that you devote to providing us with a terrific education. Your efforts are truly appreciated.

    I too am a general collector. I use the Vintage Reproduction of the Scott Brown 19th Century album. I have identified all of the spaces with Scott catalog numbers. In some cases where perf varieties were omitted, I have scanned the pages, modified them with MS Paint, and reprinted them to have a more complete album. This is, of course, a work in progress. I have a spreadsheet that contains a count of spaces by country as I received the album. If you are interested I would be glad to share that information with you.

    Again, thanks for your dilligent work on this excellent body of reference material.


  4. Hi Ron

    And so it was! (I flipped it). ;-) Thanks for the heads-up.

    The Vintage Browns is an excellent choice, and you are following in the footsteps of some of the great historical WW classical collectors.

    I have a set of the original Browns that I use for review and reference.

    The only caveat is the Scott descriptions are frozen in time for the date of publication, and doesn't always follow the modern Scott catalogue. But you know that, I'm sure. ;-)

    But they are still great albums -especially with the upgraded paper of the Vintage reproductions.


  5. Steamboat- I'm not finding it- where is it located? ;-)

  6. " I'm not sure why a phoenix is the design for two stamps." The far east phoenix comes in a male and a female version. They represent emperor and empress and are seen on roofs of temples thus, e.g. the phoenix hall in Uji (Japan 1949-57-59 definitives, also 1971 and 1976 150y definitives).
    Thus a phenix is a perfect symbol for an imperial wedding commemoration.

    1. Appreciate the cultural history lesson - thanks!

    2. Appreciate the cultural history lesson - thanks!

  7. Will there be a section about the Japanese occupation? There are hundreds of stamps, and the confusion in the philatelic groups and forums are great.
    Even the big catalogs are not in agreement: For example, what Michel lists under Japan, Scott lists under China, in the case of Mengjiang.

    1. Unfortunately, not. I agree that is a specialty, and I don't have the material to cover it adequately.

  8. Jim, are you missing a space for air post?

    1. Patrick - by golly, I am! I added C3, which, for some reason, was included in the checklist, I noticed it was included in my own Japan checklist: C3-C7. Also, I actually included a pic of C3 in the blog post. Anyway, thanks Patrick for noticing the oversight. Now fixed. ;-)