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...

Saturday, October 19, 2013


1935 Scott 74 10f dark blue "Phoenix"
Quick History
Manchuria, located in northeast China and inner Mongolia, was traditionally ruled by the ethnic Manchus: hence the name. But when Imperial Japan seized the lands in 1931, the Han Chinese were, by far, the largest ethnic group, although there was also a stewing pot of Japanese (increasing during the puppet years), Koreans, Mongols, and White Russians. To add some legitimacy to the raw takeover from China, Japan formed a puppet government for Manchukuo ("Manchu State"), and brought back the "last emperor" from the Qing Dynasty, Asin-Giorp Puyi.

Manchukuo 1939
The Capital was Changchun (renamed Hsingking), and the population was 43,000,000. Manchukuo became an industrial power during the 1930s, and steel production actually exceeded Japan for awhile. The South Manchuria Railway Company built an impressive transport system.

But the industrialization was built on the backs of 10 million Chinese slave laborers. The newly imported 100,000 Japanese farmers were given the best lands.

Harmony of the Japanese, Chinese, and Mongol Peoples
Yet, the puppet government promoted racial harmony, a theme we will see in their stamp production. The Han Chinese, naturally, resented the takeover. After the Soviet Red Army recaptured the lands in 1945, Manchuria became a staging ground for the Communist Party of China during the Chinese Civil War.

Now, let;s take a closer look at the stamps and themes of the 1932-1940 puppet state of Manchukuo.

1933 Scott 19 1f orange 
"Flags, Map and Wreath"
Into the Deep Blue
The 1911 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has for 1932-1940 Manchukuo, 140 major stamp descriptions. Of those, 66 are CV <$1-$1+, or 47%. Manchukuo is more expensive than many countries, but still there are plenty of stamps available for a representative collection.

Although I focus on 1840-1940 for non British Commonwealth countries, I will make an exception for Manchukuo. The Classic Steiner pages complete the Manchukuo issues through 1945, and I will do likewise. ;-) This will add 27 more stamps for 1941-45.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Fen = 1 Yuan
1932 Scott 3 1 1/2f lilac "Pagoda at Liaoyang"
The White Pagoda (baita) of the ancient city of Liaoyang, dating back to 1189 in the Liao Dynasty, was chosen to be on the  first stamp design.  Clearly, the puppet regime was appealing to the Manchu roots, and perhaps, by association, adding legitimacy.

The first issue of 1932 had 18 lithographic stamps and was unwatermarked. The lower 11 denominations had this design (CV <$1-$1+ for seven).

Note the five characters on the upper horizontal tablet reads "Manchu State Postal Administration".

Also note the "unwatermarked" status and the "five characters" will be important in order to differentiate future issues. ;-)

1932 Scott 15 20f gray brown
"Chief Executive Henry Pu-yi"
As mentioned, the puppet regime recruited the "last emperor", Asin-Gioro Puyi, who had ruled as the 12th Qing Emperor between 1908-1912, and briefly for 12 days in 1917 during the warlord era.

He had become Emperor at age 2 years and 10 months, and he cried from fright  (as one would expect) when his father carried him to the throne amidst the cacophonous drums and music. But he was treated as a God, the ritual kowtow required by all. And he found he could have his eunuchs beaten, who cared for him, if he became displeased.

1933 Scott 21 4f light red
"Flags, Map and Wreath"
For the first anniversary of the establishment of the State, a four stamp issue with two designs was produced.  CV is $4+ for two stamps.

1934 Scott 29 10f deep orange, wmk 239
"Pagoda at Liaoyang"
In 1934, another 9 stamp set was produced using the two designs of the 1932 issue. However, now the stamps are watermarked "Curved Wavy Lines", and are engraved on granite paper, rather than lithographed. CV is <$1-$1+ for 5 stamps.

Besides the watermarking, the little threads embedded in the granite paper is a helpful clue to identify this issue from the 1932 issue.

1934 Scott 36 1f on 4f olive green
Surcharged in black
A surcharged "1f" stamp was issued in 1934 on the unwatermarked 1932 4f olive green, as shown above. CV is $2+.

1934 Scott 32 1 1/2f orange brown
"Emperor's Palace"
In `1934, Pu-yi was formally enthroned as Emperor of Manchukuo, becoming Emperor Kang Teh. A four stamp set was released in celebration showing the "Emperor's Palace", as above, and a "Phoenix".

1934-36 Scott 39 1 1/2f dark violet, wmk 239
"Pagoda at Liaoyang"
A new set of stamps were released acknowledging the change in status of the regime. Now the upper six characters (important!) read "Manchu Empire Postal Administration".

The nine lower denomination stamps, engraved on granite paper, and watermarked "Curvy Waved Lines" have a CV of <$1-$2.

1935 Scott 54 50f olive green, wmk 239
"Emperor Kang Teh"
The six upper denomination stamps show now "Emperor Kang Teh (Pu-yi). CV is <$1-$2 for 5 stamps.

Pu-yi was an interesting man. He was both unwilling and willing to be Emperor under the Japanese. Naturally, he resented the Japanese, and was at odds with them in private.  But he was also annoyed that they only made him Emperor of Manchukuo, and he was not fully restored as Qing Emperor.

After WW II, he was captured by the Russians, and repatriated to China in 1949 under Mao Zedong. He spent 10 years under confinement, when he was declared reformed. He then gave his support to the communist government, and wrote a famous biography "The first half of my life" ( English: "From Emperor to Citizen").

1935 Scott 57 10f deep blue, wmk 242
In 1935, two denominations were added to the "Pagoda at Liaoyang" issue. The 10f (pictured), and the 13f light brown, though, have watermark 242 "Characters".

Left: wmk 239 "Curved Wavy Lines"
Right: wmk 242 "Characters"
This might be a good time to review the watermarks so far. The "Curved Wavy Lines" watermark looks like, to me, a vertical EKG strip. The "Characters" watermark show, well, characters. ;-)

1935 Scott 63 4f dull olive green
"Sacred White Mountains and Black Waters"
In `1935, a new four stamp definitive issue, lithographed, was produced. One design, "Sacred White Mountains", is shown above. The other is shown on the next image. These stamps have watermark 141 "Horizontal Zigzag Lines"

This was the first of the "Face Saving" issues which were intended for mail to China. There was no "Manchu State" script on the stamps.

1935 Scott 62 2f green "Orchid Crest of Manchukuo", wmk 141
1935 Scott 68 8f ocher, wmk 242
The second 1935 design shows the Imperial Seal, the "Orchid Crest". These 1935 stamps need to differentiated  from another 1935 lithographed three stamp issue with identical designs, but with watermark 242 "Characters". The 8f ocher above is a member of that group.

Left: wmk 141 "Horizontal Zigzag lines"
Right: wmk 242 "Characters"
The  pic shows the "Horizontal Zigzag Lines" watermark and another example of the "Characters" watermark.
1935 Scott 68 8f ocher, wmk 242, lithographed
1936 Scott 77 8f ocher, wmk 242, engraved
"Orchid Crest"
But there are more complications. ;-) In 1936, an engraved and redrawn four stamp set was issued with the foregoing "Sacred White Mountains" and "Orchid Crest" designs. This issue has wmk 242 "Characters". Note the difference in design for the "Orchid Crest" (wider leaves).

By the way, do not rely on the color Scott illustration for the A13 "Orchid Crest-wide leaves" design, as they mistakenly just repeat the A9 "Orchid Crest-narrow leaves" image in my 2010 Standard Postage Catalogue, and my 2011 Classic Specialized Catalogue. (The '47 Scott black & white image is correct.)

1935 Scott 71 1 1/2f dull green "Mt. Fuji"
A four stamp set was produced in 1925 with two designs. The first design, "Mt. Fuji", is illustrated above. The set was released when Emperor Kang Teh visited Tokyo. Can you think of a better image to pay homage to Japan than "Mt. Fuji"? ;-)

1935 Scott 72 3f orange "Phoenix"
The second engraved design for the 1935 set shows the "Phoenix", a legendary bird indeed ripe with symbolism. I also show this lovely design- the 10f dark blue- in the post header image.

1936 Scott 79 1 1/2f black brown
"Wild Goose over Sea of Japan"
In commemoration of the postal convention with Japan, a four stamp set was released in 1936. The "Wild Goose over Sea of Japan" design is stunning!

1936 Scott 85 1 1/2f violet "New State Council Building"
1937 Scott 86 2f light green "Carting Soybeans"
Then in 1936, a four design, 18 stamp engraved issue was produced. The first two designs are shown above

1936 Scott 91 7f brown black "North Mausoleum at Mukden"
1936 Scott 100 1y  violet "Summer Palace at Chengteh"
The next two designs, quite exquisitely engraved like miniature paintings, are shown here. CV is <$1-$1+ for 15 stamps.

1936-37 Scott 90 6f carmine , engraved
1944-45 Scott 159 6f crimson rose, lithographed
Be aware that in 1944-45, a cruder 6 stamp lithographed set was produced. They should be easily distinguished from the finer engraved 1936-37 issue.

1937 Scott 105 2 1/2f on 2f
In 1937, there was a series of seven stamps that were surcharged. They were intended primarily to pay postage to China.

1937 Scott 111 3f blue green
"Composite Picture of Manchurian City"
For the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Manchurian State, a two stamp issue was released. The design above was intended to show the increasing modernization of the cities.

1937 Scott 112 2 1/2f dark violet 
New denominations in a three stamp set was produced in 1937, mainly for postage to China.

1937 Scott 113 5f black, engraved
1944 Scott 158 5f gray black, lithographed
"Sacred Mountains and Black Water"
The 1937 set was engraved, but there is a 1944 set that was lithographed that one needs to be aware of for proper identification. One will note many differences on careful inspection.

1937 Scott 116 2f dark violet "Pouter Pigeon"
With the completion of the Capital Hsinking under the five year construction plan, a celebratory four stamp issue was released in 1937. A Pouter Pigeon is a domesticated variety of the common Rock Pigeon.

1937 Scott 121 2f dark carmine "Map"
Another five stamp set was released in 1937: One of the designs is shown here. One must remember that in the 1930s, world wide stamp collecting was still popular, and claims to Regime legitimacy through "stamp propaganda" was quite often practiced.  The number of issues produced went up and the revenue nicely followed. ;-)

1940 Scott 137 4f indigo "Dragon Dance"
For the 2600th anniversary of the Japanese Empire, a two stamp set was produced. Nice design here.

This is the end of coverage for the Scott Classic catalogue, but we will continue.

1942 Scott 140 2f light green
Overprinted in red
The fall of Singapore was celebrated in 1942 with this overprinted specimen.

1942 Scott 144 10f red/yellow 
"Map of Manchukuo"
For the 10th anniversary of the founding of Manchukuo, a four stamp set was issued. Stamp production, despite the "East Asia War", was still at a high standard.

1942 Scott 147 6f light green 
"Women of Five Races, Dancing"
One of the myths perpetuated by Manchukuo was "National Harmony". The reality was that Chinese and Japanese students were educated in separate schools, or were segregated within a school. Guess who received the better education? ;-)

1942 Scott 148 3f chocolate
Overprinted in green
I find this stamp hugely ironic- and tragically wrong. It celebrates the one year anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which shows one day earlier on this stamp because of the International Date Line. The inscription reads "Asiatic Prosperity Began This Day December 8, 1941".

1943 Scott 153 6f red brown "Smelting Furnace"
Manchukuo was a center of steel production, and for the second anniversary of the "Greater Asian War", this theme was chosen.

1945 Scott 164 10f red "One Heart, One Soul"
The last stamp issued by Manchukuo. And so it ends.

Deep Blue
1936-37 issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 11 pages for Manchukuo, and follows the Scott major number format exactly. The Steiner is a pleasure! :-)

1941 Scott 138 2f deep carmine "Soldier"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two pages, has 79 spaces for Manchukuo 1932-1938. Coverage is 56%. Overall, I am satisfied with BB's "representative" selection.

Wrong "Pagoda at Liaoyang" image cuts in Big Blue spaces
(By green & red stickpin): Need to be reversed
 • A major image cut error/switch by BB. The 1934-36 Scott 37 ( with six characters on the upper tablet) image cut is placed beginning with the "1932" series, while the 1932 Scott 1 (with five characters on the upper tablet) is placed beginning with the "1934-36" series. ;-) Because of the image cut switch, I have seen owners of BB struggle to put the "wrong" series in the spaces. Ignore, and put the correct series in its place.

• There are three stamps with CV $10+, and one stamp- the 1933 Scott 22 10f deep blue "Old State Council Building" with a CV of $50+.

• There are some series that are not included as choices because of BB's date specifications or color criteria. The specifics are listed in the "Comments" section after the checklist.

• BB only goes to 1938, and ignores eight stamps issued during 1939-40. (An aside- For the "classic" pages, Steiner's inclusion of stamps through the end of the regime in 1945 makes a lot of sense for Manchukuo.)





50,51,52,(53),62* or 66,63,64 or 68,65* or 70,


Next Page





A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1932 Scott 10 8f ocher ($10+)
1933 Scott 20 2f dull green ($10+)
1933 Scott 22 10f deep blue ($50+)
1934 Scott 35 10f dark blue ($10+)
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice
C) *1932-I did not include the 1934 wmk 239 series, as it is mostly in slightly different colors, and BB specifies "1932".
D) *1/*37- A major image cut error/switch by BB. The 1934-36 Scott 37 ( with six characters on the upper tablet) image cut is placed beginning with the "1932" series, while the 1932 Scott 1 (with five characters on the upper tablet) is placed beginning with the "1934-36" series. ;-) Ignore, and put the correct series in its place.
E) *1934-35- I did not include the 1936 redrawn engraved Scott 75-78 because of BB's date specification, and because the image cut does not match the redrawn version.
F) *62 or 66, 64 or 68, 65 or 70- 1935 wmk 141 vs wmk 242 sets
G) *65 or 70- "dull red" in BB, but "brown red" in Scott.

1942 Scott 146 3f orange
"Allegory of National Harmony"
Out of the Blue
Manchukuo and it's stamps are at a particularly sharp historical interface, and I've thoroughly enjoyed learning about the era.

Note: Map and poster image appear to be in the public domain.

Note: Want to know more about Manchukuo stamps?
Check out this great site....

Bud's Big Blue - Manchukuo

Have a comment about Manchukuo?


  1. Jim

    Excellent and timely article (as I am going through my Manchukuo stamps now). I learned a lot about the various issues that I was not aware of, very helpful in understanding the stamps. Manchukuo is important in history as well, as it demonstrates the imperialistic goals of the Japanese government at the time, which still has a profound effect on relationships within the region. This will definitely a link when I put up a Manchukuo page.

  2. Michael - appreciate your comments and thanks for the link. :-)

    BTW, my "Natal" post, now in the hopper, has a reference to your excellent South Africa Area Transition Chart.



    1. Thanks Jim, the South Africa chart was very complex (I had some help in validating it). I am now beginning to work on the Russian Revolution Chart, which I fear will be equally complex.

      Back to Manchukuo, It is very interesting how you can almost tell the history of this Japanese puppet state, just through the stamps. Hadn't really realized how much there is until I read through your description.


  3. excellent article and I applaud the amount of research and care put into it. Thanks and keep it up!!

  4. Thanks Clif- I see you are a blogger also- I enjoyed your Botany and Stamps theme blog.

  5. While I was living in eastern China, I twice visited the region known as Manchuria (formerly Manchukuo). Traveling with Chinese friends, we spent a cold night on a traditional, Manchu, heated, clay bed that worked quite nicely. The next day, we were standing near the base of an ice-encrusted waterfall. Suddenly, there was this thunderous sound from a large ice shelf that had broken off and was cascading down into the stream. I was so stunned that I thought a tidal wave might sweep us away. However, the actual wave of water merely crested the dock and dampened our hiking boots.

    In the modern Chinese city of Dandong, we visited the eastern most section of the Great Wall. Later, we took a tourist boat cruise on the Yalu River and came quite close to the North Korean shoreline. It was May Day, and the North Koreans were displaying their flags and picnicking along the river bank. On this special holiday, Chinese, Koreans, and Westerners all smiled and waved to each other.

    Driving out of town, I asked the driver to pull over by the Chinese-DPRK border fence. Although most of the border consists of two different fences running parallel to each other, we found one section that only had one. Since we didn't see anyone else around, my American friend and I stuck our arms through the border fence. We quickly retrieved a couple of small rocks from the North Korean soil as souvenirs. Our Chinese friends thought we were crazy, but they were quite amused by our antics.

    That evening, we had dinner in restaurant run by expat North Koreans. The North Korean waitresses not only served the food, but they entertained guests with music and dancing. Believe or not, dog was menu option, and it is considered something of delicacy. However, none of us ordered anything canine that evening

    Peering out of the restaurant window, we could view both sides of the Yalu River. While Dandong, on the Chinese side was lit up with lights, the North Korean village on he opposite side was pitch black with no lights at all (save one small red bulb on the pier).

    Before the Korean War, the Broken Bridge once spanned the Yalu River, but the North Korean side of it was destroyed by the US Air Force. Currently, the Chinese section is intact and lit up at night, but the North Korean span was never rebuilt and it remains forever dark.

    1. Gina - thanks for the story about your adventures in this part of the world.

  6. Thanks for sharing such valuable information regarding Manchukuo stamps. I could now arrange my stamps with description.