Stamp News December 2008
Philately of Epic Proportions
Japan to Australia by airmail in early postwar years
Correspondence between Japan and Australia resumed reasonably soon after the end of WWII. The earliest item I have is a Stationery card dated 17 September 1946, in which a penpal states "Now the war is over & we are privileged to write to you, I am very happy to let you know altho' we have lost our home we were safe & are living peacefully.". Philatelic relations had resumed at least as early as 15 February 1948, for that is the date on another Stationery card, to venerable Philatelic Trader, William Ackland in Melbourne.
The earliest contact between Commerce Houses which I have, is also the highest aggregate franking article I've noted of the early postwar-era. It's our subject item this month. This is a parcel-wrapping portion, fortuitously with adequate remnant information to enable us to deduce the philatelic significance. The stamps are cancelled 25. 4. 7, or 7 April 1950, "25" in the Japanese Showa Era equating to our 1950. The article passed the Tokyo Branch of Customs the following day. The presence of the air mail handstamp enables us to conclude that the postage rate of 2080 yen represented 26 times the 80 yen basic airmail rate to the destination of Sydney Australia.
The very high postage rate permitted the use of a strip of four of the 1949 500 yen Locomotive Construction, the then highest denomination stamp of Japan. I've found this to be a scarce stamp on entire, and previously to Australia had seen only one item, bearing a single 500 yen. The airmail rate in 1950 from Australia to Japan was 1/6d, and therefore a 26 times rate item would be 39/-, just short of requiring a £2 Arms for transmission. Such cross-comparisons I find useful in determining a ballpark degree of relative scarcity.
Austria - August 2008 update For the subject of this column last August, the highly franked Austria-Australia parcel-wrapping, I sent up a flare for assistance in determining the rate. Thankfully, Heinz Patzak in France, and Martin Frischauf in Austria are avid Stamp News readers, and kindly answered my plea. Both gentlemen pointed out my two errors. I had misread schillings for groschen in the case of the 6s stamps; the aggregate postage was therefore 322s 90g, not 311s 2g as I made it. Secondly, I read a European "1" as a "7" (I should know better), the indicated weight is 1200 grams, not 7200.
Rod Perry's other column, Woodchip-free Zone, appears in Stamp News. Rod invites owners of highly franked covers of the world to send scans of their items to him at email@example.com.