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Tazawa 2 Sen China Overprinted Stamp with Perfin by Mitsui Bussan

Uploader: NIKKOPublication: 2016-07-31
Basic Information Category: Stamps & Postcards Subcategory: Stamps (Cancelled) Year: 1918 CE Century: 20 CE Country of Origin: Japan Issuer: 日本逓信省
SpecificationLength: 2.5 cm Width: 2.1 cm
This Tazawa stamp with face value of 2 Sen (銭) was cancelled in Hankow, China in the 1910s (possibly 1918). The date on the cancel is in Common Era year instead of the usual Japanese era year. This type of cancel is called European text cancel (欧文印). Interestingly, it also carries a perfin by the Mitsui Bussan (三井物産).

Tawaza is the nickname of the common stamps issued during the Taisho and early Showa period (1913-1937). After the death of Emperor Meiji, a new series of stamps was needed to accompany the succession of Prince Yoshihito, the later Taisho Emperor. It was the first time a public stamp design audition ever held in Japan. Tazawa Masakoto (田沢昌言), a technician at the Ministry of Communications (逓信省), won the prize by his Art Nouveau style of design. The stamps carrying Tawaza’s design were, therefore, nicknamed after him.

In 1913, the same year when Tazawa stamps were first released, several counterfeits of the previous chrysanthemum stamps (菊切手) were found by the Yokohama post office. The ministry decided to use a special paper (毛紙, literally fiber paper) with red and blue color fibers to prevent further forges. Therefore, only Tazawa stamps printed in 1913 are on plain white papers. There was a revision in 1926 that shrank the graphic from 19mm to 18.5mm, but the paper remained the same.

After the First Sino-Japanese War, Hankow had second most numbers of concessions (first being Tientsin) held by other countries in China: Germany (returned in 1917), Russia (returned in 1924), the British Empire (returned in 1926), Japan and France. The last two nations continued to hold the concessions until the end of World War II. The stamps issued in the concessions are usually overprinted with text “China” in order to differentiate from the stamps issued in the mainland of the host country. In this case, China (支那) was overprinted on top of the 2 sen Tazawa stamp.

In philately, a perfin is a stamp that has had initials or a name perforated across it to discourage theft. The name is a contraction of perforated initials or perforated insignia. They are also sometimes called SPIFS (Stamps Perforated with Initials of Firms and Societies). At the time, Japanese companies often perfined the stamps they bought to prevent their employees from reselling or mailing for personal purposes. The earliest example of Japanese perfin stamp is believed to be from the Yokohama branch of the HSBC in June 1896, although it was not until October 1st 1909, the Ministry of Communications of Japan finally legalized and started regulating the perfin practice. Japanese companies needed to register with the local post office before they can put perfin on the stamps. Although there were about 600 types of perfin registered in the mainland Japan, only a handful of them, like B&S, K&W, HSBC and Mitsui, also registered with the Japanese concessions post offices.
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