The first Hong Kong stamps were issued on 8 December 1862. Printed by De La Rue the small elegant design depicting the Queen with both European and Chinese characters remained constant throughout the 19th Century despite the many changes in colours, values and watermarks. They were also regularly surcharged and on one occasion overprinted for the 1891 50th Anniversary of the Colony. Hong Kong’s rarest stamp is the 1865 96c bistre (not to be confused with the cheaper brownish grey version!) in mint condition, we last sold an example in the 1990s and it now catalogues around £80,000.
The early 20th Century stamps include many expensive higher values, especially in mint condition plus some highly sought- after inverted watermark varieties, the issues of KGVI were interrupted by the Japanese Occupation (who only issued 3 stamps for Hong Kong) and the 1946 Victory set was conceived by the Postmaster General of Hong Kong while in the Stanley Internment Camp for Civilians.
From 1st July 1997 the stamps have been inscribed “Hong Kong. China” and have remained popular amongst stamp collectors for their beautiful blending of Western and Oriental styles.
The postmarks are extremely popular, especially the cancellations from a wide range of British Post Offices at the Chinese Treaty Ports and areas leased from the Chinese have proved to be a fascinating collecting area and an excellent list of which Hong Kong stamps can be found with which postmark can be found at the back of the Stanley Gibbons Hong Kong catalogue. The postal history of this period involves the Opium Wars and much foreign involvement with Chinese affairs & trade and is as popular as it is fascinating.