Paper Heritage - Railway Thematics: Manchurian Local Overprints 1945/46

The defeat of Japan in 1945 and the collapse of its puppet government in Manchukuo created a vacuum in a China where nationalist and communist forces had already long been in conflict. Both sides moved quickly to repossess Manchuria. As each town or area was taken, a postal service was established using, in the vast majority of locations, stamps of Manchukuo overprinted with Chinese characters.

The Kerr catalogue, not currently in print to my knowledge, recognizes 272 different locations, identifiable by the style of their overprints. Most translate along the lines of 'Chinese Republic - Temporary Use', 'Chinese Postal Service - Temporary Use' or similar overprint. The remarkable similarity of the format and wording in many of the locations suggest that the overprints, though not officially authorised by the central postal authorities, had active support at the highest levels of provincial postal management.

The Manchukuo 39 fen of 1937 (steam train on Sungari River Bridge) is the only value employed for these overprints which is of railway interest. Supplies of this value seem to have been very limited, as Kerr lists only 17 (out of 272) locations where this stamp was overprinted (occasionally surcharged also with new value). According to Kerr, these 17 locations produced 23 stamps, possibly 24, if a Mukden value exists with overprint inverted.

Now, the complications! The airmail catalogue, Sanabria (1966 edition), lists 21 different overprints - but this includes additional locations, plus some varieties mentioned below. A significant difference is in the Kerr listing for Mukden, which gives five varieties of the same style of overprint, whilst Sanabria lists but two.

Sanabria does not identify the overprints by location, so I shall use Kerr as a basis for numbering these issues, as do most collectors of these stamps. However, for the benefit of the tiny number of readers with a Sanabria catalogue, I shall attempt to cross-reference, not an easy task.

Kerr lists all the 272 locations alphapetically and numbers them sequentially, A Cheng being location 1 and Yung Shan Chen location 272. Catalogue numbers are composed firstly of the location and then the stamp number. In so far as I have records, there was one single stamp issued but, for the most part, they were issued in sets. Where a 39 fen value exists, it is very frequently the most valuable stamp in the set. A typical example is Kerr 191,1-12 where 191,12 is the 39 fen and carries almost half the set value.

Almost all Manchurian local overprints (MLOs) are elusive; many are very scarce. I am indebted to Bill Weinberger for providing a number of scans and much useful information in this article. However, there still remains a small number of reported 39 fen values below, for which I am still looking for a scan. I have attempted to describe the overprints, as per the Kerr catalogue illustrations. However, if anyone can provide scans of any of the missing stamps, I should be most grateful if you would email them to me.

Chang Chun Chang Chun : Kerr 13,16 : Sanabria 9 : Single stamp issue. This stamp is surcharged 5Y/39f

Chang Chun Chang Chun : Kerr 13,16 : Sanabria 9 : Single stamp issue. Unlisted variety : bar at top

Fo-Shan : Fo Shan : Kerr 40,11 (in set/13, Kerr 40,1-13) : Not in Sanabria.

Hai Cheng Hai Cheng : Kerr 48,26 (set/31, Kerr 48,1-31) : Sanabria 22

Kiao Ho Kiao Ho : Kerr 93,13 (set/5 Kerr 93,9-13) : Sanabria 16.

Kwei Lin Kwei Lin : Kerr 111,X12 - stated 'Not regularly issued - suspect issue' : Not in Sanabria

Mao Erh Shan Mao Erh Shan : Kerr 136,13 (set Kerr 136,1-17) : Sanabria 19

Mo Lin: No image Mo Lin : Kerr 143,4 (set Kerr 143,1-4) Not in Sanabria :
Overprint Description : Arch of 4 chars, 2 larger chars. beneath

Mukden Mukden - details below Mukden

Sanabria apparently lists two basic issues for Mukden, San.5 and San. 21, as well as a double overprint variety, shown above right (San.5a); Kerr lists several, though not the double overprint,as follows:
Kerr 148, 23 - May not exist
Kerr 148, 50
Kerr 148, 50a (inverted opt) - May not exist
Kerr 148, 77
Kerr 148, 104
Kerr 148, 104a (inverted opt)

The overprints are very similar and 148,23 (if it exists), 148.50 and 148.77 are hard to distinguish; Kerr devotes an entire page to means of identifying them. I consider San. 5 to cover all three of these. I believe the stamp illustrated above left to be 148,77.
However, one stamp -148,104 - may be distinguished by having a noticeably smaller overprint, and I have illustrated this below; this stamp probably equates to Sanabria 21.

Mukden Mukden - smaller type Kerr 148, 104 : probably Sanabria 21

Peh An Peh An : Kerr 160, 11 (set 160,9-11) : Sanabria 12 : Stamp surcharged 5Y/39f

Peh An Chen Kerr 9 Peh An Chen : Kerr, 161,9 (set 161, 1-12) : Sanabria 11

Peh An Chen Kerr 19 Peh An Chen : Kerr, 161,19 (set 161, 13-22) : Sanabria 14. This overprint is always blurred.

Pu Si Pu Si : Kerr 172,4 (set 172,1-7): Sanabria 24.

Pu Si sideways Pu Si : Sanabria 24a : Overprint sideways. Kerr 172,4 variety, unlisted in Kerr.

Shah Sung Kan Sha Sung Kan : Kerr 178,5 (set 178,1-5) : Sanabria 20

Schwang Cheng Schwang Cheng : Kerr 184,16 (set 184,1-21) : Sanabria 15

Sia Cheng Tze Kerr 12 Sia Cheng Tze : Kerr 191,12 (set 191,1-12) : Sanabria 13 : Surcharged 50f/39f

Sia Cheng Tze Kerr 36 Sia Cheng Tze : Kerr 191,36 (set 191,25-36) : Sanabria 18 : Surcharged 50f/39f

Siao Kiu Chan Siao Kiu Chan : Kerr 193,9 (set 193,1-13):Sanabria 6.

Siao Kiu Chan-pair Siao Kiu Chan : San.6a ; Pair, one w/o opt. (Kerr 193,9 var., unlisted).

Sin Li Tun Sin Li Tun : Kerr 195,10 (set 195,1-13) : Sanabria 17

Tung Ho Tung Ho : Kerr 246,56 (set 246,47-56) : Sanabria 8 : Surcharged 5Y/39f

The following four items do not appear in Kerr, but they do appear in Sanabria. Location unknown in some cases

Sanabria 7 Sanabria 7 : Peh Chen : Kerr 162, unlisted value

Sanabria 10 : Location unknown.

Sanabria 23 : Location unknown.

Sanabria 25 : A Cheng : Kerr 1, unlisted value.

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