Cherry Blossoms: 1/2 Sen Gray with Syllabics


Gray issued 4 February 1875 with Syllabics ro (2 – ro), (3 – ha) and (4 – ni) only

Scott #40 and Sakura #41 on foreign paper

Size 19 1/2 mm x 22 1/2 mm


The 1/2 sen gray with syllabics has eight plates.  The two plates for Syllabic ro (2-ro) were the old plates used for the 1/2 sen brown foreign paper.  Three new plates for both syllabic (3-ha) and (4-ni) were engraved.  Any gray stamp with syllabic i (1-i) is a forgery.

Reminder:  Only 16 petals or florets in the genuine Kiku Crest (Chrysanthemum Crest).  There is no known forgery in gray with the Ki-Hansen error which occurs only on Plate 4, Positions 23 of the genuine 1/2 sen brown with crossed branches.


Genuine: 1/2 sen gray with syllabic 2 (ro) - simiten
Syllabic ro (2-ro) with sumiten (black dot specimen)



Genuine: 1/2 sen gray with syllabic 3 (ha)
Syllabic (3-ha)
Genuine: 1/2 sen gray with syllabic 4 (ni)
Syllabic (4-ni)

Differences Between Genuine and Forged

Known classic forgeries are of ro ro and ha .  All with i i are forgeries.  There are no classic forgeries of ni .  However, more modern “reproductions” of ni exist.  Used copies with this syllabic are very rare and genuine stamps with forged cancels exist.


1/2 sen gray with syllabic 1


All 1/2 gray Cherry Blossom stamps with syllabic i (1-i) are forgeries.


1/2 gray stems between 3rd and 5th leaves

Genuine: Stems between the third and fifth leaves are solid or have very close lines.  Forgeries:  In the syllabic forgeries the stems are missing.

1/2 gray line crossing flower & stems over leaves

Genuine: In the paulownia flower, a line crosses most of the small blossoms. Forgeries:  These lines are fewer or missing in the forgeries.  

Genuine: The paulownia branches pass in front of the top leaf. Forgeries:  These branches stop of the edge of the top leaf and appear to pass behind.

Wada 1/2 Sen Forgeries Plates 15 & 16

Plate 15: As said before, the forgers did whatever suited them at the time.  Then often changed the same plate in different ways to make a different stamp or to change from sankō to mozō, or remove the sankō or mozō altogether.  Wada’s Plate 15 is a great example of the possible changes that could be made.  See all the changes Wada made to Plate 15 here.

Plate 16:  Only used for the 1/2 values with syllabics.  The same plate was used to forge both the February 1874 issue in brown and the 1875 issue in gray.   Different positions on the same plate had different syllabics.  The whole plate was printed in both colors and all are “unsigned.”  The positions with their syllabics are listed below:

      • Postions 1 & 5:  syllabic (3-ha)  (Note:  No genuine in brown with this syllabic.)
      • Positions 2 – 4:  syllabic i (1-i)
      • Positions 6 – 8:  syllabic ro   (2-ro)

Signed” Forgeries

Since the forgers only had to change the color of the printing ink slightly, it is possible that any of the forgeries done in the 1/2 brown shade with syllabic can also be found in the gray shade. Maeda forgeries are known only in the brown shade at this time.

The shades of gray vary greatly.  It is often difficult to tell whether the shade is gray or brown without a side by side comparison. The stamp will show the shade differences better than the images here on the web.



Wada Plate15, State I: 1/2 sen gray, syllabic 2 with sankō
Wada: Plate 15, State 1, syllabic ro with sankō

Chrysanthemum Crest has 15 petals




Wada Plate15, State 2: 1/2 sen gray, syllabic 2 with mozō
Wada: Plate15, State 2, syllabic ro with mozō

Chrysanthemum Crest has 15 petals



Mihon Type 1: 1/2 sen gray with syllabic 2
Mihon: Type 1

Chrysanthemum Crest has 15 petals

Probably Type 2 and Type 3 Mihon exist in the gray color as well as the brown, but there are no images available at this time.




Unsigned” Forgeries



All of the Wada forgeries with syllabics occur in both the gray and brown shades.  See the individual differences in the section of Wada unsigned forgeries in brown.


    • There are no genuine 1/2 sen gray with syllabic i i,  All with this syllabic in gray are forgeries.
    • Most forgeries are of ro and ha.  The only known forgery of syllabic ni  ニ  is the poorly printed ABC  Kurabu (Club) forgery  shown below .

Wada unsigned forgeries in the brown and gray shades were from the same plates.  See Wada unsigned forgeries in brown for the characteristics of syllabic ro ro.

Wada: 1/2 gray syllabic 1 (i), Plate 15, State 4, Position 2
Wada: Plate 15, Position 2, state 4, syllabic i (1-i)

Genuine syllabic i (1-i) doesn’t exist


Wada: 1/2 gray, syllabic 3 (ha), Plate 16, position 1
Wada: Plate 16, Position 1, syllabic (3-ha)
Spiro: 1/2 sen gray syllabic 2 (ro)
Spiro: syllabic ro (2 -ro), 17 petals in Chrysanthemum Crest



Note: Numbers in parenthesis and bold are the catalog numbers found on reverse of the forgeries.  State 4 forgeries did not have any numbers on the reverse. It is believed that State 4 forgeries exist for all different values.  But only a few State 4 examples were available for examination.  When State 4 was available for examination, the design type is recorded.

Genuine 1/2 sen gray syllabic ニ with ABC: Design 118.
ABC (Kurabu) Club Forgery syllabic ニ  (ni-4)  – Design 118

States 1, 2, 3, & 5 (No. 34).

Characteristics of Design 118:

      1. Crest has large filled-in circle at center.



Genuine with JSPA 1/2 sen gray, syllabic ha, 20 May 1962
JSPA: 1/2 Sen Gray, Syllabic ハ (ha-3) from Sheet No. 6, Issued 20 May 1962

This stamp reproduces the genuine issue of 4 February 1975 on wove paper.  The sheet is on wove paper.

Click here to see more information about JSPA reproductions.



Tayama: 1912

This 1/2 sen gray cherry blossom stamp, syllabic ハ  (ha), is in found in Sheet 1 included with the 1912 issue of the Communications Law Monthly Report.  Type 1 Cancel.

Inscriptions translate:
1/2 sen pale black;
Issued: Meiji 8.2 (February 1875);
Off Sale: Meiji 9.5 (May 1876);
Invalidated: Meiji 22. 11 (November 1889)

Click here to see more information about Tayama reproductions.


Tayama: 1912 syllabic ハ (ha)