It is hoped that these preliminary notes will be of some help to anyone not familiar with these issues, especially if confronted by the imperfs or “proofs” sometimes offered. Where possible, scans are from items in the writer’s collection, though others are cropped from internet auctions – apologies for the quality of some of the latter.
The 1 anna farmer of June 1942, with the value tablet in Japanese katakana script, is listed as SG J46 and Scott 2N2. The ten cents values of March 1943 are listed as SG J73-81 and Scott 2N30-37. The original plate, used for all values, was later reprinted (illegitimately) several times with variant fonts inserted into the value tablets. Small variations make most plate positions easily recognisable, and the definitive and invaluable study of both originals and reprints is Jeremy Pilcher, U Sein Win and Alan Meech, “The farmer issues and their reprints”, which forms the whole of Vol. 7 No. 2 of The Burma Peacock, the journal of the Burma Philatelic Study Circle. For the 1 anna, see also Ito Kyoichi, “An account of the early postal service in Japanese Burma”, with commentary by Robert M Spaulding, Jr., Japanese Philately, Vol. 34 No. 2.
Given that all values are modestly priced, it is surprising that this series has received the attention that it has from forgers.
A note on distinguishing originals from reprints
The originals were typographed in sheets of ten columns of five rows (seven columns in the single case of the 5 cents small “c”) on papers without gum, the 1 anna on laid paper watermarked at intervals with the image of an elephant and “TITAGHUR SUPERFINE” or “ELEPHANT BRAND”, and the cents values on wove papers without watermark.
Shades of the original cents values exist from various printings, but the particular characteristics of individual plate positions are consistent between printings.
Perforations vary slightly. At least some printings of the cents values were perforated horizontally by a line perforator of 11½, and vertically by repeated strokes of a single line perforator of the same gauge, the sheet passed through one column at a time. Distinctive patterns of blind perf pins can be seen repeated on adjacent lines of perforation, but are not perfectly aligned.
Gibbons and Scott list varieties of the 3 cents and 15 cents on laid paper. As Gerald Davis has demonstrated masterfully, in “The farmers of Burma, laid at last” in The Burma Peacock, Vol. 18 No. 3, the original 3 cents is known on laid papers watermarked with Britannia and a crown and “FOOLSCAP LEDGER”, and with “HERTFORDSHIRE/LEDGER/MADE IN ENGLAND”. Only a small number of stamps within the sheet would show any portion of these watermarks.
A reprint of the 3 cents exists on laid paper watermarked, as the 1 anna original, with an elephant and “TITAGHUR SUPERFINE”. It is in a distinctive shade of steel blue.
Reprint B exists imperforate, cut into blocks of four. What appeared to be a set of nine such values was offered by Gibbons in 1997 for £950, described as “of unknown status”. It was still on offer at the same price in 2001.
Both originals and reprints of the cents values exist C.T.O. in sheets:
Originals: Kalaw (Japanese/Burmese bilingual) 18 4 44; THEGON 11 9 43
Reprint A: BASSEIN-BURMA, MAUBIN, MYAUNGMYA & WAKEMA 29 MAR 43 (can appear as 2 MAR)
No doubt others exist.
I am not competent to draw distinctions between originals and reprints by perforation, nor to deal with the question of whether the “5C” overprint on the 1 anna (SG J57, Scott 2N3) has been forged on the genuine stamp.
In the opinion of some, the “reprints” are merely different printings of the genuine stamp. I am not aware that anyone has yet proved this by finding examples genuinely used on cover.
According to Masayoshi Tsuchiya (A Complete Overview of Japanese Occupation Stamps in Southeast Asia) and Ito & Spaulding, imperf proofs were made of the 1 anna: four or five sheets in scarlet on paper as issued, and one or two in black on thicker paper without watermark.
Copies of the former were offered in the April 2005 Gerald Davis sale.
Other values do not exist as proofs, but are known imperforate. Gibbons lists only the 5C (large “C”) and the 10c thus, and Scott only the former. However, in the Gerald Davis sale imperforate pairs and multiples of all values are listed, though it is not clear which of these may be from versions identified by Pilcher, Sein Win and Meech as reprints.
1 Forgeries from the “Japanese Special Service Post” stable
Produced in India. 1 anna. Litho’d, imperf, in red (the issued colour), orange and blue – the colours of the 1943 Independence series, alongside similar forgeries of which, plus the 1943 “state crest”, this is usually found, on covers inscribed “Japanese Special Service Post”, cancelled with a forged Japanese Occupation of Malaya postmark. The red version is also found alone on covers similarly inscribed, cancelled with a forged Penang commemorative cancellation. These are also found uncancelled, though they appear to have been produced with the principal purpose of creating these covers. Neither the 1 anna nor the associated forgeries mentioned above are found in pairs or multiples, and seem to have been printed together in one plate as a collection of singles, in each of these three colours.
Cents values, as above, but in very basic approximations of issued colours, on off white and buff papers, again on “Japanese Special Service Post” covers. I have not seen the 1c or 5C (Large “C”). These are not so commonly met as the 1 anna.
Forgeries of unknown origin of the cents values
Typographed on fragile newsprint type papers. The 1c shows a dotted line along the bottom frame of the top stamp – presumably the remains of the perforations on the original from which the block was made. The 1C and 2C are known as perfed singles, but are commonly seen in imperf blocks of three and four respectively, as shown here. The ink on these two values is more fluorescent than on the others. The other values were evidently also printed in blocks or rows, but are only found as perforated singles in various cheap bulk packets probably originating from one source, along with similar forgeries of the 1943 Independence and 1944 “Java” series. All values are known except the 5 cents with small “c”. The crude sloping perforations and variable margins are distinctive.
Imperf copies of the 1c and 2c as shown here have been seen for sale as “proofs” in the stock of a reputable UK dealer who claims to know this area.
See David Sher, “Packet forgeries of the 1943 farmer stamps”, The Burma Peacock, Vol. 15, No. 4, and “New Japanese Occupation of Burma forgeries appear”, Vol. 13, No. 2.
Forgeries of unknown origin of the 1 anna
These are known in various colours, apparently lithographed, on newsprint paper. I have seen green, orange, black and a dark purple – though the latter two may be simply different scans of the same colour.
The top three positions, like the 1c forgery above, show a dotted line along the bottom frame – presumably the remains of the perforations on the original.
Forgeries recently produced in Myanmar
Together with forgeries of the “state crest” and 1942 “Yano seal”, these were produced in 1994 by persons associated with the short-lived “Yangon Philatelic Service”. Typographed in blocks of four on a small hand press, sometimes repeated to make larger “sheets”, on newsprint type papers sometimes “aged” by immersion in boiled tea. Singles also found crudely perforated by sewing machine. See Mohammed Ersoof, “Modern forgery in Myanmar”, The Burma Peacock, Vol. 19, No. 4.
Reproductions by “atdinvest”
This notorious eBay internet seller, Juan A Canoura Sr. of Hialeah Gardens, Florida, offered innumerable reproductions of worldwide stamps of his own manufacture, marketed as “classic forgeries”, and all in multiples computer-generated from a single scan, printed possibly by thermal transfer on gummed “sheets” cut to A4 size. The ink stands proud on the surface and has a shiny appearance. The farmers are all printed in five columns of six rows. Colours are mostly wrong and overprints are wrongly added from the “Showa” series. Because the multiples are generated from one image, there are no variations of any kind between different positions, making these readily identifiable, even if cut down into smaller blocks.
For background on “atdinvest” productions, see this report.
Genuine stamps with forged cancellation
“EXPERIMENTAL P.O./R-516/13 OCT 43”
“EXPERIMENTAL P.O./R-516/15 NOV 44”
reverse “TWANTE/17 NOV 44”