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An Interesting Chinese Philatelic Document Comes to Light!

Currently we are offering an example of the 1962 “Stage Art of Mei Lan-fang” miniature sheet on an illustrated First Day Cover.

This miniature sheet is one of the most sought- after issues of the Peoples Republic and I’ve seen individual examples in never hinged mint condition sell at prices approaching £20,000! Our example on a First Day Cover (“FDC”) is rarer but the market dictates that FDCs are worth less, consequently we’ve estimated ours at £6,000-£7,000.

Along with this FDC the collection included other items – but none more interesting to me than a neat little 24 page, full colour booklet entitled “Postage Stamps of People’s Republic of China / 1963”. It is a wholesale price list produced by the China Philatelic Company at Peking. This well edited and well produced booklet explains that the firm is “a state-operated enterprise exclusively engaged in the export of New China stamps, sets, singles, packets, FDCs, etc.” and that this is a wholesale price list of issues released during 1962, or about to be released in 1963.

All these well-loved issues are illustrated in colour and the stories behind each design explained in full, however the most interesting part of this attractive booklet takes up the just last couple of pages – it’s the price list in old British currency in pounds, shillings and pence.…

Back in 1963 average earnings were almost 30 times lower than they are today so I’ve taken the liberty to add approximate modern price comparisons in British Pounds and US dollars, it’s all just a bit of fun really. The fact that 1960s PRC stamps have escalated in value will surprise no-one, however it is interesting to see just how these sought- after issues entered the western market a lifetime ago for what seems like a pittance. This is not overly scientific (give me a break, I’m a stamp guy…), in the brackets below I’ve attempted to illustrate how much the equivalent prices might feel as experienced by us IN TODAYS VALUES.

1962 8f Birth Anniv. of Lu Hsun 2s7d per 10 (or todays approximate value of 37p or 52c each) which currently catalogue £7.50 each in Stanley Gibbons.

1962 Ancient Bridges 13s6d per 10 sets (or todays approx. value of £1.94 or U$2.70 each) currently cat £43.00 each.

1962 Support for Cuba 12s10d per 10 sets (or todays approx. value of £1.84 or U$2.58 each) currently cat £180.

1962 Support for Algeria 9s9d per 10 sets (or todays approx. value of £1.40 or U$1.96 each) currently cat £8.

1962 Stage Art perforated set £2.11s per 10 (or todays approx. value of £5.90 or U$8.25 each) current cat £1,600… a big winner!

1962 Stage Art imperforate set sold out! Currently catalogues £7,000… you missed out!

1962 Stage Art miniature sheet 13s2d each (or todays value of approx. £18.90 or U$26.46 each) cats £18,000… you just won the lottery!!

In total the list offers 19 different sets / items plus other packages, it’s interesting to note (as we have an example of that rare Stage Art miniature sheet on FDC) that ALL the First Day Covers are shown as being “SOLD OUT” by 1963!

I’m grateful to the late owner who saved this price list, it’s a fascinating piece of philatelic history and includes reproductions of the sets and miniature sheet each with a single little black line through the lower right corner to combat reproduction! The owner himself never used the list, he wasn’t a stamp dealer and the excellent stamps he owned were given to him as he travelled in the PRC throughout the early 1960s as a salesman of industrial equipment!


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