Cherry Blossoms: 20 Sen Red (Rose) with Syllabics


4 February 1875
Scott #48 and Sakura #47 with syllabics  Syllabic chi (8)  (chi-8) on hard wove paper,  or syllabic Syllabic ri (9) (ri-9) on soft porous wove paper.
Size 19 1/2 mm x 22 1/2 mm

The Government engraved the 4 known plates of syllabic Syllabic chi (8) chi (8), and it can be assumed that they also engraved one syllabic Syllabic ri (9)ri (9) plate.  Syllabic Syllabic chi (8)is found on hard wove foreign paper but the only two known copies of  syllabic Syllabic ri (9)  are on a soft porous paper.

There is a great story about the discovery the first two copes of syllabic Syllabic ri (9)in Japanese Philately, Vol. 67, pages 94-95.  Needless to say,  syllabic Syllabic ri (9)is a great rarity.   The second copy was discovered and sold on eBay on 11 October 2009.  It seems clear that the owner who sold the stamp on eBay had no idea of what he had.  His reserve price was only $9.00.  But more than one knowledgeable bidder found the stamp and the final selling price was $50,100.  No unused copies of this stamp have been found. The 20 sen stamp was used for foreign mail.  Look at your used copies of this stamp carefully, it might be a small gold mine and not a forgery.  I’m not sure when Scott first listed this syllabic, but my 2001 edition of the Scott Catalog only lists syllabic Syllabic chi (8).  Current catalogs do list both syllabics.

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



Genuine – Syllabic Syllabic chi (8) (chi 8)

Genuine – Syllabic Syllabic ri (9) (ri 9)

20 Sen Cherry Blossom, syl chi - unused
I believe that this “unused” copy once had a black dot (sumi-ten) and it was cleaned.  Notice the dull color.
20 sen Cherry Blossom, syl chi - used
Used Copy – Bright Shade
20 sen Cherry Blossom, syl. ri - First Copy
Discovery Copy of Syllabic Syllabic ri (9)(ri-9)
20 sen Cherry Blossom, syl. ri - Second Copy
Second Copy of syllabic Syllabic ri (9) (ri-9)

Secret Mark


This secret mark is found on both the genuine stamps with syllabic Syllabic chi (8) and the newly discovered (1991) syllabic Syllabic ri (9). There are seven thick vertical lines in the SE section and only six lines in all three of the other like sections.

BEWARE:  Some forgeries have the same secret mark.

Secret Mark -20 sen red Cherry Blossom



Differences Between Genuine and Forged

These characteristics are typical of most of the forgeries.  Not all forgeries have all the characteristics.

A:  Genuine:  The horizontal line at the base of the “2” ends with a pointed almost vertical line.  Forgeries:   In some forgeries this vertical line doesn’t exist, and in others it is shorter and less pronounced.

BGenuine:   There is always a space between the circular band and the inner frame line.    Forgeries:   In some forgeries the circular band touches the inner frame line, in others the space is less.  In at least one forgery the space is greater.

C:  Genuine:  The lower end of the scroll work in the central band ends in an upward curl, close to but not touching the paulownia leaf.   Forgeries:  Some end in a downward curl that touches the paulownia leaf and others with the upward curl have a line that extends to the paulowia leaf.

D:  Genuine:  The leaves of the corner cherry blossoms always touch the adjoining frame.    Forgeries:   In most forgeries, some of the cherry blossoms have space between the leaves and the frames.


Differences between Genuine & Forged


Signed” Forgeries




Wada: 20 sen. sankō under central value characters
Wada: Plate 35, State I

Sankō vertical below central characters.



Wada: 20 sen. mozō under central characters
Wada: Plate 35, State 2

Mōzo horizontal below central characters.



Wada: 20 sen. sankō on each side of central characters
Wada: Plate 35, State 3

Sankō horizontal on either side of central inscription.



Wada: 20 sen. mozō on either side of central characters at bottom.
Wada: Plate 35, State 4

Mōzo horizontal on either side of bottom central character.




 Forgeries “signed” Mihon – With and Without the Mihon

It is believed that all “signed” types of these stamps exist without the mihon characters.

Genuine 20 sen red & Mihon, type 1 with mihon
Mihon: Type 1

With mihon hidden under cancel.

Genuine 20 sen red & Mihon, type 2 with mihon
Mihon: Type 2

With mihon hidden under cancel.

Genuine 20 sen red & Mihon, type 2 without mihon
Mihon: Type 2

Without mihon

Genuine 20 sen red & Mihon, type 3 with mihon
Mihon: Type 3

With mihon hidden under cancel.


“Unsigned ” Forgeries

Genuine, 20 sen red, with Wada Plate 35, State 3
Wada: Plate 35, State 5
Genuine, 20 sen red, with Wada Plate 36
Wada: Plate 36
Genuine, 20 sen red with Ramsden forgery

Notice the dot in the center of the Chrysanthemum Crest.

Genuine, 20 sen red with Spiro forgery

Only one flower branch instead of three.


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 rose syllabic チ with ABC: Design 120.
ABC (Kurabu) Club Forgery syllabic  チ  (chi-8) – Design 120

States 1, 2, 3 & 5 (No. 39).

Characteristics of Design 120:

      1. Break in frame line.


Tayama: 20 sen stamp from 1912 CL Report


Tayama 1912

This 20 sen stamp, syllabic Syllabic chi (8) (chi-8) is found in sheet 2 included with the 1912 issue of the Communications Law Monthly Report.  It has the type 2 cancel.

Inscriptions translate:
20 sen red;
Issued: Meiji 8.2 (February 1875);
Off Sale: Meiji 10.8 (August 1877);
Invalidated: Meiji 22. 11 (November 1889)

Click here to see more information about Tayama reproductions.


Japan Stamp Publicity Association


Genuine with JSPA Sheet No. 5: 20 sen
 JSPA Sheet No. 5 issued 20 April 1962

This stamp reproduces the genuine issue of 4 February 1875 on wove paper with syllabic チ (chi-8).  The sheet is on wove paper.   For more information click here.