Ir. Soekarno and Dr. Mohammed Hatta proclaimed Indonesia’s independence from the Netherlands on August 17, 1945, two days after the Japanese capitulation. The Repoeblik had a strong presence on Sumatra and Java, much less so on Borneo and in the Great East. On August 19 the leaders announced the creation of eight provinces, namely, Sumatra, West Java, Central Java, East Java, Borneo, Sulawesi (Celebes), the Moluccas, and the Lesser Sunda Islands. While governors were appointed for each province, only those of Sumatra, Java, and the Lesser Sunda Islands actually took up office in their province. The latter was installed on Bali and had little influence beyond that island. It is for this reason that from a philatelic point of view we generally speak only of the Repoeblik Java and Repoeblik Sumatra.

As the Dutch did not recognize the new republic, a struggle for independence ensued which lasted until December 27, 1949, when the Dutch, under international pressure, recognized the sovereignty of the Repoeblik Indonesia Serikat (Federal Republic of Indonesia). During this period there were many Republican overprints, and on Java and Sumatra there were also new Republican issues.


Repoeblik Java

Initially stamps of the Netherlands Indies as well as from the Japanese occupation were used without overprint. However, often the old country name was deleted by pen or paint brush. Subsequently we find Repoeblik Indonesia applied to the stamps in various forms, handwritten, typewritten, and hand stamped on these issues. Later in 1945 we see machine overprints. The first own issue of the Repoeblik Java were the Indonesia Merdeka or Free Indonesia stamps. These were issued on January 12, 1946, and sold at a surcharge to finance the independence movement.

On June 1, 1946, the first definitive stamps appeared, and on August 17, 1946, the first commemorative series. After this, stamps were issued infrequently through August 1949. The last stamp issued was the so-called Surakarta Military stamp of which only 500 were printed. It depicts the inextinguishable blaze of the revolution, and fewer than fifty are known to still exist.


Repoeblik Sumatra

On Sumatra we also find that initially stamps of the Netherlands Indies and Japanese occupation were used without overprint. In the mean time the post offices sent their stamps to Medan and Padang to have them overprinted with Repoeblik Indonesia. There were several hand stamps used for this. Because many stamps had already been overprinted during the Japanese occupation, we find many stamps with Japanese occupation as well as Repoeblik Indonesia overprints. There were also a few locations that applied their own local overprints. For example, the South Sumatran regions of Benkoelen, Palembang, and Lampong applied their own regional and local overprints.

On October 28, 1946, the Japanese occupation money was replaced by the “Oeang Repoeblik Indonesia” (currency of the Republic of Indonesia or O.R.I.). Stamps were again overprinted, this time with O.R.I., N.R.I. (Negara Repoeblik Indonesia = State of the Republic of Indonesia) and URIPS (Uang Republik Indonesia Propinsi Sumatra = money of the Republic Indonesia Province of Sumatra) within a stylized clover leaf.

In addition, there was also machine printed overprint applied to pre-war stamps with and without Japanese and Republican manual overprints in 1946 and 1947.

The first own issue for Sumatra was the Fonds Kemerdekaan (Freedom Fund) issue of May 17, 1946. The stamps were sold with a surcharge to help finance the independence movement. In June 1946 appeared the first stamp with President Soekarno. It was also sold with a surcharge for the independence movement. In 1947 two stamps were overprinted Pos Udara to create the first airmail stamps.

Because of continuing inflation, previously issued stamps were overprinted with new values. In Atjeh, which was cut off from the rest of Sumatra for much of the time, this was done locally in 1949.


Repoeblik Bali

One of the provinces which was founded on August 19, 1945, was that of Soenda Ketjil or the Lesser Sunda Islands. It was headquartered on the island of Bali and was the only province outside of Java and Sumatra where the Republicans actually took office. The Japanese had given authority to the Republicans on Bali in October 1945, but because law and order deteriorated rapidly, the Republicans were forced to relinquish it at the end of January 1946.

During this short-lived Republican episode mostly Japanese occupation stamps were used. However, in January 1946 an overprint + 5 sen was applied to 10 cent stamps. The surcharge was probably to help finance the independence movement. There were also a few other stamps which appear to be Republican in nature. So far we have only found these stamps used on Bali, though the + 5 sen stamp was distributed to Lombok. The Dutch took over control of Bali in March 1946. However, these stamps continued to be used through the end of April 1946 when new Dutch Indies stamps arrived.

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