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Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Look Back At Japan's Philately Week - 1955

Just because the past is interesting, here’s a newspaper article from the October 17, 1955 edition of Nippon Times - thanks, Vinnie! The Nippon Times was one of a few English-language broadsheets for Japan (mostly for the Tokyo market), that contained local Japanese news and international stuff - heck, there were even NHL hockey scores in this daily paper! Leafs won.

This article is about Japan’s foray into producing postage stamps commemorating International Philately Week, which is a week dedicated to the collecting of stamps.

I used to do that - it was a great way to learn a bit about different countries, and was probably my very first exposure to Japan… or maybe it was a Godzilla movie on TV. Same thing. Stamp-stamp-stamp!

Here’s the article - just note that BOAC is an old British airline that I heard of when I either flew from London to my current home in Toronto as a wee lad, or when The Beatles sang Back In The USSR. Considering I once was removed from a church by my dad because I wouldn't stop singing Yellow Submarine, I'm thinking there's a good possibility I heard the former song first. But alas, it was released AFTER I arrived in Toronto. So... plane it must have been.

BOAC was founded in 1939 as a merger between Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd. It ceased operations in March of 1974 when it merged with British European Airways to form the on-going and current British Airways.

Okay… take-off!

To mark Japan’s 19555 Philately Week commencing November 1, a ¥10 postage stamp depicting Utamaro’s wood-block color-print “Girl Blowing a Glass Toy” will go on sale at all post offices throughout the nation on the opening day. The dull red, dull green, pale yellowish brown and black photogravure adhesive was designed by Masaru Kimura. Five million stamps will be issued in sheets of 10 (5 x 2).
An attractive first-day souvenir cover displaying this stamp will be flown from Tokyo to London by British Overseas Airways Corporation. These covers will be priced at ¥150 each, which will include addressing by BOAC on behalf of the sender, stamping, posting and final distribution after completion of the flight.
The cover will be the first to be flown out of this country for the benefit of the All Japan Philatelic Federation. It was at the special request of the federation that this first commemorative cover be air mailed from Japan to the United Kingdom where the use of the postage stamp was first introduced to the world in 1840.
The covers may be obtained by writing to the Sales Promotion Officer, BOAC, Sanshin Building, Yuraku-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, enclosing ¥150 for each flight cover required and giving return address in this country. BOAC cannot return any cover  to an overseas address. Deadline is October 20. No order received after this date can be accepted.


Cool, huh?  Oh… a postage stamp is something people used to affix to a hand or typewritten letter that would then be driven, flown, shipped, carted by horse, bull, goat or camel to destination addresses of your choice.

It's a very pretty and subdued postage stamp. I preferred the later Hokusai ukiyio-e images.  

When I got to Japan back in 1990 - having stopped collecting stamps in Canada (I collected stamps from everywhere) a few years previous, being given a bag of stamps by a kind student at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture) helped stimulate my interest again… as well… since there was no internet back then (at least none that look like the internet nowadays), I had to purchase stamps at the local post office to mail my plethora of letters… and the styles and colors of Japan’s stamps was intriguing.

But it was two things… seeing Japan’s historical base of stamps commemorating the Philately Week—especially the one’s depicting ukiyo-e, that captured my love affair with these gummy pieces of paper.

It’s also what started me on the desire to purchase original ukiyo-e artworks. And while I am glad to still have these stamps and original ukiyo-e, the cost did mean I had to rely on an extra school lunch or two to get me through my cash-strapped evenings.

By the way, there is a Scott catalogue value of US$10 for the stamp in mint condition. I'm richer than I think.

Andrew Joseph

1 comment:

  1. Pan Am, BOAC, TWA, Sabena ... all gone now, but familiar airlines of the 50's, 60's, and 70's. I took at least 60 flights before I turned 21 (counting destinations, not connecting flights) -- the golden age of flying where everyone smoked and drank on planes. The most fun was a C-130 Hercules transport that was staffed by RCAF (and RAAF) crews for UNMOGIP. Long time ago ... when people still collected stamps and knew how to use them.