Inflation in Paradise

The inflation-stamps of South Sumatra

By H. Ramkema and Hans P. van Weeren

Recently, someone sent to Mr. Ramkema a photocopy of a sheet of twenty 25 rupiah “segel-inflasi” (inflation stamp) for approval as Mr. Ramkema had published the “Catalogue Revenues, Japanese occupation of the Netherlands Indies 1942-1945 and Administration Republic of Indonesia 1945-1949”  (Philatelic Society Dai Nippon, the Netherlands, August 1999). This is known to be the first in depth inventory of the fiscal stamps and seals of Indonesia from the 1942-1949 period. The sender assumed that the “segel-inflasi” could be fiscal items but this was not the case.<!–[endif]–>

Mr. Ramkema realized that he had seen the “segel-inflasi” before. In the Dai Nippon auction of June 7, 1988 had been offered “Interim Sumatra, five different varieties of the R 25 “segel-inflasi”; each on a banknote of 25 rupiah of the NRI”. NRI means Negara Republik Indonesia (State of the Republic Indonesia).

Shortly after the photocopy of the sheet was brought to his attention, a few “segel-inflasi” stamps were offered at the auction of the APPI, the Indonesian Stampdealers Association and Mr. Ramkema acquired one of the lots.

He decided to contact Hans P. van Weeren whom he knew as an active collector of banknotes of Indonesia, specializing in the period of the Indonesian revolution (1945-1949).

Hans van Weeren told him that he is currently preparing a series of articles about “Banknotes in Paradise”. This is intended to be a series about the banknotes of the Indonesian revolution and the rebellious movements against the central government in Jakarta for the IBNS-Journal. He suggested to Mr. Ramkema to join their efforts by starting his series on this particular subject of the “segel-inflasi”-stamps.

So we combined our information for the publication of an article for both the IBNS-journal and for the Dai Nippon society in the Netherlands.

 In October 1986, Hans van Weeren visited the retired drg. (dentist) Mohammed Isa at his home in Jakarta. Dr. Isa was the military governor of South Sumatra responsible for the issue of the “segel-inflasi” -stamps.

Both the 5 rp and the 25 rp depict a lakeshore with a palm tree and on the background a mountain with clouds. The text reads: “Segel-inflasi R 5.- (or R 25.-) Rep. Indonesia, daerah mil. istimewa Sum. Selatan” which means: Inflation stamp, 5 (25) rupiah, Republic of Indonesia, special military district of South Sumatra.

Dr. Isa informed him that his staff had prepared both a 5 rupiah and a 25 rupiah “segel-inflasi” to control inflation. Especially, the number of the (red) 25 rupiah Bukittinggi notes dated January 17, 1948 (PS 191a) in circulation caused rapid inflation. Those notes were called “the falling airplane”, as the note depicts two airplanes amongst other means of transportation.
Thinking about a method to control inflation he remembered that he had once read about a measure somewhere in Europe, in what he thought to be either Hungary or Greece, where they used printed stamps to control circulation.

He therefore ordered the printing of the stamps (on the available thin copying paper) and announced that the old notes could be handed in for exchange during a certain period of time. The intention was that one could hand in two notes in return for one note with a “segel-inflasi”, bringing thereby the number of notes in circulation down by 50 %.

He had saved some unissued stamps of both the 5 rupiah and the 25 rupiah “segel-inflasi”. He took a copy of both “segel-inflasi”-stamps from a sheet he had and gave them to Hans van Weeren as a courtesy. Dr. Isa also had saved some black 50 and black 100 rupiah Bukittinggi-notes (PS 194 var. nl and PS 195c). He mentioned that those notes were locally printed in Djambi. This was done because it had then become impossible to distribute notes from Bukittinggi since the Dutch gradually had regained control over the cities and roads on Sumatra (apart from Aceh) and the republican forces were forced to retreat to the more remote areas.

Dr. Isa stated that, due to rapid inflation, the 5 rupiah “segel-inflasi” was never issued. However, on the listing below there are several 5 rupiah “segel-inflasi” which to us appear to be correctly issued notes. As the printing of the olive-green 5 rupiah “segel-inflasi” shows major differences (especially in the dark-red to gray-brown underprint) it is quite possible that the stamp was indeed issued (possibly locally) as in those turbulent days many things did not go according to procedures. It is also possible that Dr. Isa simply may not have remembered correctly what happened.

The red 25 rupiah “segel-inflasi” also show major differences, especially in the yellow underprint.

There are unissued stamps around, entire sheets at times. It is therefore possible that “segel-inflasi” from remaining stocks were used in a later stage to add (collector) value to notes which would otherwise not have had great significance as the notes without the stamps often were either not interesting or badly damaged.

It is possible that this was done with both the listed 250 rupiah and 500 rupiah notes from Bengkulu (PS 163 and PS164a), the two notes listed with each three “segel-inflasi” stamps and both listed 5 rupiah notes with a 25 rupiah “segel-inflasi” stamp affixed.

On the other hand, David August mentions in his 1979 article¹ that Dr. Isa was residing in Bengkulu when issuing the “segel-inflasi”. We believe that the “segel-inflasi” issue took place in 1949 on notes issued in 1947, 1948 and 1949.

 The “segel-inflasi” banknotes are listed in two catalogues. In “Pick”² numbers PS 410 and PS 411. The “note” with PS 412 refers to these notes, not to PS 412.

In the “Katalog Uang Kertas Indonesia”³ the 25 rupiah “segel-inflasi” is listed under number H 527.

Below we list the notes known to us so far.

Listing of notes with “segel-inflasi”.

5 rupiah “segel-inflasi”, olive-green with dark-red to gray-brown underprint (a rising bird).

Handjaja  Pick     

H nl          PS 410 nl        Stamp on PS 185

                                       5 rupiah Bukittinggi, blue, dated 17.8. 1947

H nl        PS 410 a          Stamp on PS 189 a

                                       5 rupiah Bukittinggi, green, two, red, serial numbers, dated 1.1. 1948

H nl        PS 410 a          Stamp on PS 189 b             

                                       5 rupiah Bukittinggi, green, one, red, serial number, dated 1.1. 1948

H nl        PS 410 b          Stamp on PS 192 c

                                       5 rupiah Bukittinggi, brown, yellow, unpt., red serial number, dated  1.4. 1948

H nl        PS 410 b          Stamp on PS 192 d

                                       5 rupiah Bukittinggi, brown, w/o unpt., red serial number, dated  1.4. 1948

H nl        PS 410 c          Stamp on PS 387 a

                                       5 rupiah Tandjungkarang (Lampong), light purple, red serial number and seal (and additional Kroë-postmark) dated 1.6. 1948

H nl        PS 410 c          Stamp on PS 387 a

                                       5 rupiah Tandjungkarang (Lampong), dark-purple, black serial number and seal, dated 1.6. 1948

                                       25 rupiah “segel-inflasi”  ,red on light-yellow underprint (possibly the same rising bird as shown on the underprint for the 5 rupiah “segel-inflasi” )

 a. Stamps on 25 rupiah banknotes

H 527      PS 411 a         Stamp on PS 191 a

                                       25 rupiah Bukittinggi, red, red serial number dated 17.1. 1948

H 527      PS 411 a         Stamp on PS 191 a

                                       25 rupiah Bukittinggi, red, black serial number, dated 17.1. 1948 ª)

H 527 nl PS 411 b          Stamp on PS 191 d

                                       25 rupiah Bukittinggi, black, dated 17.1. 1948 ªª)

H nl        PS 411 c          Stamp on PS 355

                                      25 rupiah Pendopo (Lintang IV Lawang), black, dated 17.1. 1949.

b. Stamps on other denominations than 25 rupiah

H nl        PS nl                Stamp on PS 189 b

                                      5 rupiah Bukittinggi, green, one red serial number, dated 1.1. 1948

H nl        PS nl                Stamp on PS 163

                                      250 rupiah Bengkulu, red, dated 1.6. 1047

H nl        PS nl               Stamp on PS 164 a

                                     500 rupiah Bengkulu, red, dated 1.6. 1947

 ª) There are many varieties in the numbering known for this note. They will be discussed in a forthcoming article in this series. The authors are aware of the existence of the “segel-inflasi” stamp on most of the known varieties.

ªª) This note is mentioned in Pick, but not seen by the authors.

Unissued remainders of the 25 rupiah “segel-inflasi”.

As mentioned before, Dr. Isa gave an unissued 5 rupiah and 25 rupiah “segel-inflasi” to Hans van Weeren in 1986, both cut from sheets he had in his possession. The sheet of twenty stamps mentioned in the first lines of this article was numbered 023896. Illustrated is a sheet of twenty stamps numbered 023921. Mr. Ramkema has recently acquired a sheet of eight numbered 023922.

It is possible that the “segel-inflasi”-stamps were only printed in sheets of twenty.

The authors have not recently seen sheets of the 5 rupiah “segel-inflasi”.

The author would appreciate any reactions to this article.  He can be reached via e-mail at

Acknowledgements: The estate of the late Mr. Pronker of Den Helder,  the Netherlands, for reproduction of some of the illustrated notes. David B. August, Manèl Garrretsen, Alim A. Sumana and Mathis Verkooyen for friendship and sharing knowledge based on many years of collecting. Hélène van Weeren-Engelkamp for assistance with the editing of the article.



¹August:       David B. August,   Indonesian Revolution 1945-1950: Emergency Banknote Issues, part II,   IBSN Journal 18 (1979), no. 4, page 116

²Pick:          Neil Shafer and Colin R. Bruce II,  Standard Catalog of World Paper Money, Volume One, Specialized Issues,  Eighth edition, Iola, WI, 1998

³Handjaja:   Sugiana Handjaja c.s., Indonesian paper Money catalogue 1782 – 1996, s.l. (Jakarta), s.a. (1996)