A State that Came up Short

Do you know who this is? It’s Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China, the last of the Ch’ing Dynasty–that is, the Manchurians who conquered China centuries before–and the one and only figurehead of the short-lived, never entirely real country of “Manchukuo.” This was a puppet state set up by the Japanese when they seized Manchuria from China in 1932. It was dissolved at the end of World War II in 1945, with Pu Yi packed off to China as a political prisoner, as told in the movie, The Last Emperor.

Stamps are fragile, flimsy little bits of paper that can tell us much. Sometimes they’re all the storms of history may leave behind. There is no Manchukuo today: hardly anyone in the Western world is aware that it ever existed.

But it did, it did. And that’s what makes stamp collecting such a cool hobby.


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