Some classic revenue stamps of Japan (updated)

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Here are some 18th century revenue stamps from Japan. Normally I would know very little about these, as they fall out of the scope of regular postage stamp catalogs. But with little help from my online friends I think I’ve nailed these pretty accurately. As many of these stamps come up frequently under the ‘I’ve got an unidentified Japanese stamp…’ discussions, I think these are worth sharing.

1885 Japan. 5 Sen Document revenue stamp.

1885 Japan. 5 Sen Document revenue stamp.

In Japan, document revenue stamps are usually placed in the upper left or right corner of the front page (though the location is a matter of custom rather than law). The revenue stamp should have a chop seal (cancel) placed half over it and half over the agreement to protect against re-use.  The above document revenue stamp has got very traditional in Japanese design: on the corners are cherry blossoms, on the middle is the chrysanthemum symbol (symbol of the emperor). Stamps from this set are relatively common findings especially in old collections of stamps.

1898 Japan. General revenues (missing 2 sen value).

1898 Japan. General revenues (missing 2 sen value).

The above revenues are from 1898 to 1909 general purpose series. The values 1 sen to 10 sen (unfortunately I don’t have the 2 sen value to display) feature “karakusa scroll” in addition of the chrysanthemum symbol. Based on how often these stamps come up on various ‘mystery stamp discussions’, these have to be one of the most common revenues to date.

1885. Japanese telegraph stamp.

1885. Japanese telegraph stamp.

Above is Japanese 15 Sen telegraph stamp issued in 1885. I’ve seen these sold on eBay monthly less than 0.10US$ a piece. It features a very typical telegraph postmark (see also this entry about Japanese postmarks).

1875 Japan. 3 Rin tobacco revenue. Sadly it's nothing more than a space filler in current condition.

1875 Japan. 3 Rin tobacco revenue. Sadly it's nothing more than a space filler in current condition.

And last, but not least is a 3 Rin tobacco tax (duty) stamp.  The series was issued in November 1875.  The design is very cutting edge for the time: on the top is the chrysanthemum symbol, below that are four characters “tobako inshi” (tobacco duty) and face value. In the center is mount Fuji with two tobacco plants around.  Various tobacco revenues are relatively easy to find even 150 later as tobacco was very popular in Japan at the time.

PS. If the topic interest, do check out entry about Japanese 1898 parcel post revenue stamp.

Closing words

As usual, please feel free to chime in and share your knowledge / opinions.

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