Cherry Blossoms: 20 Sen Violet without Syllabics


 Issued 3 October 1872 – Scott #17 and Sakura #13 with crossed branches on native paper (Matsuda Printing)

February 1874  Scott  #17b and Sakura #21 (Government Printing)

Size 22 1/2 mm x 25 1/2 mm

Only one plate for these stamps is known and it was used for both Matsuda printing and the 1874 Government printing.  The Matsuda printings were on both native wove and laid paper.  The Government printings on a more soft and fibrous papers, either wove or laid,  are very very rare.  It is not possible to accurately tell differences in paper from scans.  The difference between the Matsuda printing and the Government printing must be determined by an expert seeing the actual stamp. The Government printing color is described as a deep red violet while the Matsuda colors are described as bright violet and dull lilac.

Reminder:  Only 16 petals or florets in the genuine Kiku Crest (Chrysanthemum Crest).



Genuine – All Matsuda Printing

Cherry Blossom-20 sen, no syllabic
Position 9
Cherry Blossom-20 sen, no syllabic with mihon
 Mihon Overprint
Cherry Blossom-20 sen, no syllabic with sumiten
Sumiten (black dot)

Differences Between Genuine and Forged

These characteristics are typical of most of the forgeries.  However there are some forgeries that are like the genuine for one or more of the characteristics.  Be sure to check individual forgeries by the forgers below.  Some of the forgeries have a different number of petals in the Chrysanthemum Crest.  A forger sometimes has the correct number of petals in some positions but the wrong number in other positions.  This number varies from 15 petals to 17 petals.

CB: 30 sen gray - characteristics of genuine & forged

A.  Genuine:   There are seven round buds on the center flower stem and five buds on the side stems.  The leaves have scalloped edges,  Forgeries:   Some have five buds on the center stem and less then five on the side stems.  The edges of the leaves are straighter.

B:  Genuine:  The bottom of the “2” in the 20 sen have a very distinctive curved shape.   Forgeries:   The bottom of the “2” in often straight and very little or no upturn at the end.

C:  Genuine:   Each  inner frame ornament has a distinct central notch from which three flower stems protrude. The center flower stem  continues back to the base of the ornament.   Forgeries:   Some forgeries have no V-shaped depression and all the flower stems end at the edge of the ornament.



Signed” Forgeries




Wada: Plate 12, State 1 with sankō
Wada: Plate 12, State 1

Sankō at bottom as part of value characters.  In some positions, the crest only has 15 petals.



Wada: Plate12, State 2 with mozō
Wada: Plate 12, State 2

 Mozō horizontal on inside beside corner ornaments.  In some positions the crest only has 15 petals.



Maeda: 20 sen violet, type 2 with sankō
Maeda: Type 2

Sankō on both sides of central value characters,



Mihon: Type 1, 20 sen violet
Mihon: Type 1

Crest has 17 petals.



Mihon: Type 2, 20 sen violet
Mihon: Type 2

Crest has 16 petals as genuine.



Mihon: Type 3, 20 sen violet
Mihon: Type 3

Crest has 17 petals.




Unsigned” Forgeries



Maeda: 20 sen, type 1, with no syllabic
Maeda: Type 1

Note:  There are 4 flower stems in this forgery in the corner ornaments instead of the 3 found in the genuine.


Sprio: 20 sen, no syll;abic

East value panel touches inner circle.


Mihon: 20 sen, no syllabic, type 2 without mihon
Mihon: Type 2 without mihon

Break in design




Unknown forger 20 sen cherry blossom without syllabic
Unknown Forger – Forgery Discovered by Michael E. Ruggiero

April 2013

This stamp was declared a forgery for the following reasons:

  1.  The inner corner ornaments are not exactly like the genuine.
  2. The ink used had a reddish tint, but not the red violet of the Government printing of 1874. (Postmarked 1874)
  3. It was on fibrous paper with vertical laid lines, perforation 13 1/2 x 13 1/2.
  4. It could not be plated to any position on the photograph of the only known plate used for the genuine stamp





Forgery & Cancel of 20 sen cherry blossom

On further examination of the cancel by Kenneth Bryson, the cancel has the following reasons for suspicion: (See red arrows on stamp at right.)

  1.  The time at the top of the circle 午後 gogo [P.M.] is written right to left .
  2. 明治七  Meiji 7 (1874) lower down on the circle is written left to right.
  3. 大阪  Osaka, the center post office name, it written with an old style radical that is believed was not used in this time period.
  4.  The usual date and time that should appear on the left side is missing.  However the separating dots are clear and sharp so it would seem that the rest of the cancel show be visible.

For more detailed information see, Japanese Philately, Vol. 68, pages 101 and 337,






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 20 sen violet no syllabic with ABC: Design 104
ABC (Kurabu) Club Forgery – Design 104

State 1 (No. 13) and States 2, 3, & 5 (No. 15).

Characteristics of Design 104:

      1. Breaks.

Reproductions without syllabic


JSPA Reproduction: 20 sen Cherry Blossom, no syllabic
JSPA  Sheet No. 2 Issued 20 September 1961

This stamp reproduces the genuine issue of 3 October 1872 on laid paper.  The sheet is on vertical laid paper.

Click here to see more information about JSPA reproductions.


Tayama: 1908

This stamp in found in Sheet 1 included with the 1908 issue of the Communications Law Monthly Report.  Type 2 Cancel.

Inscriptions translate:
20 sen violet;
Issued: Meiji 5.9 (September 1872);
Off Sale: Meiji 8.2 (February 1875);
Invalidated: Meiji 22. 11 (November 1889)

Click here to see more information about Tayama reproductions.


Tayama: 20 sen stamp from sheet 1 of 1908 CL Report