History of China Stamps

China stamps are amongst the most popular stamps in the world, and Chinese philately has grown in stature alongside the country itself. The first China stamps were issued by the Municipality of Shanghai in 1865. In all 12 different Municipal stamp-issuing posts existed in the 19th Century and their stamps and postal history are eagerly sought-after by collectors. The first stamps for the entire Chinese Empire were issued in 1878. The ‘Large Dragons’ were issued in 1-candarin, 3-candarin and 5-candarin values, although specialists identify 3 distinct sets based on paper thickness and spacing on the printing plate between the stamps.

Until the mid-1910s China stamp issuing policy was relatively straightforward and despite some overprinted surcharges, they are beautiful and easy to identify. Some very rare stamps were issued during this period including a series known as the “Red Revenues” where previous unissued revenue stamps were overprinted for postage. Arguably the most valuable China stamp comes from this series, the $1 on 3c deep red in mint condition being catalogued as £850,000 in the Stanley Gibbons 2015 guide.

When political upheaval took hold, local uprisings saw China stamps variously overprinted between the 1910s–1930s as currencies devalued. The early 1930s saw somewhat primitive stamps issued by breakaway Communist areas, therefore now highly collectable. Following the defeat of the Japanese Invasion a wide range of different local unique and overprinted stamps were issued as Nationalists vied with Communists for territory.

People’s Republic of China Stamps

The first stamps for the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) were issued in 1949. Beautiful and miniature sheets that track the great upheavals and development of this magnificent country have continued ever since. The most popular People’s Republic of China stamps were issued during the so-called “Red Period” in the late 1960s where despite Communist reservations over this bourgeois hobby, the need for foreign currency from philately saw the pictorial issuing policy continue, albeit with highly politicised themes.

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Taiwan/Republic of China
China Stamps rare