The history of Chinese stamps parallels the country’s great shifts in its ruling powers. China’s first stamps were printed by the British colonial postal system in Shanghai in 1865. British colonists wishing to send letters home were the target audience for these stamps, and their adoption spurred other Chinese municipalities with large international communities to quickly follow suit.

The country’s first national stamps, the “Haiguan Dalong” or “Large Dragons” series, were created in 1878 for the Chinese Imperial Customs service, run by an Englishman named Robert Hart, who organized the Chinese Imperial Post in 1897. His service ended with a stamp celebrating the first anniversary of Emperor Hsuan T’ung’s ascension to the throne in 1909. Early issues of Chinese stamps were frequently overprinted to mark special events, like the jubilee of international settlement in 1893, or to adapt local postage prices to regional fluctuations in the yuan’s value.

During the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s, complex underground postal systems developed among networks of Chinese communists, who printed many small runs of crudely designed stamps. After the Japanese were defeated in 1945, China’s postal service was still not centrally organized, so most stamps were designed only for specific regions. These stamps generally featured portraits of Mao Zedong or patriotic military emblems. The first official stamps for the National Republic of China were also printed in 1945, some featuring Sun Yat-sen, the rebel leader who helped depose the Manchu dynasty.

During the 1950s and '60s, Chinese stamps most commonly portrayed communist heroes and symbols, like the popular series inscribed with quotes from Mao’s “Little Red Book.” Some of the most interesting communist-era stamps are from a 40-part series depicting poses for a radio gymnastics program that all citizens were expected to practice.

Another popular set among collectors is the 1964 series of traditional tree peonies, long cultivated for the Chinese aristocracy. Stamps printed after the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s showcased historic Chinese emperors, artwork, landscapes, or, most recently, symbols of China’s financial and material successes. The first Chinese Zodiac stamp, which celebrated the Year of the Monkey, debuted in 1980.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Alphabetilately

Alphabetilately

First shown in 2008 to celebrate the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 15th anniversary, Alphabetilately is esse… [read review or visit site]

Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

You can get happily lost searching through the 10,000 or so objects on the Asian Art Museum's website. For example,… [read review or visit site]

Gotheborg.com

Gotheborg.com

Jan-Erik Nilsson's extensive reference on antique Chinese porcelain. Jam-packed with information (e.g. on porcelain… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

China Prc, 1980 T46 Chinese New Year Monkey Stamp, Superb Mint Mnh, GenuineP.r. China Stamp T46 Sc#1586 Year Of The Monkey 1980 Mnh China 1897 Red Revenue $1 On 3c Hinged MintNystamps China Stamp # 269 Mint $1300 Nystamps China Stamp # 239 Mint Og H $1300China(1981-2003), Excellent Mnh Stamp Collection Mounted In A Minkus Specialty China(1950-1980), Excellent Mnh Stamp Collection Mounted In A Minkus Specialty China Old Group Of Stamps Good For PlattingNystamps China Dragon Stamp # 160 Mint Og H $650China Old Postcard 5 Countries India Johore Hong Kong Japan To Germany 1904 !!Nystamps China Stamp # 268 Mint Og H $675China 1897 Icp Coiling Dragons Mint And Used AccumulationNystamps China Dragon Stamp # 121 Mint Og H $400China Taiwan 1970 Occupations Of 12 Months Painting Postage StampsChina Prc 1971 Bridge Postcard To England, 3 Values, (sc $250) - A GemNystamps China Dragon Stamp # 122 Mint Og H $650China 1897 Red Revenue 2c On 3c Hinged MintChina 1897 Red Revenue 4c On 3c Unused Without GumChina 1962 C94m Mei Lanfang S/s Scott No. 628 MnhChina 1878-83 Large Dragon Thin Paper 1ca UsedChina Sinkiang 1915 1/2c To $1 And 1916-19 $2 And $5 Hinged MintChina-taiwan Scott# 1355-58 Emperors Vf Mint Nh StampsScarce China Meter W/ Bird CoverChina(-1949), Excellent Stamp Collection Mounted In A Minkus Specialty Album W/cNystamps China Dowager Stamp # 23 Mint Og H $650Nystamps China Stamp # 267 Mint Og H $140Postal History China Unused Empress Dowager Postcard Hankow 1911China 1897 Empress Dowager Small Surcharge 30c On 24ca Hinged MintChina 1894 Empress Dowager 24ca Hinged MintNystamps China Red Revenue Stamp # 80 Mint Og H $550Excellent Stamp Lot Mnh, Very High Quality!Nystamps China Stamp # 238 Mint $800China(2004-2011), Excellent Mnh Stamp Collection Mounted In A Minkus Specialty 1963 - Prc Cover - Shanghai To Usa - Scotts# 623, 678, 597China Taiwan 1966 Ancient Chinese Paintings In Palace Museum StampsChina Prc 1999 The Rare Naglar Atm Frama Vending Machine Stamp Set Mint Mnh Rrr!China Prc 1964 S67 Oil/petroleum Industry Set Of 5, Unmounted Mint, Scarce Set!China 1878-83 Large Dragon Thin Paper 5ca Used1981 China T58 Stamp Complete Block Of 4China ++ Large Dragon 1 Candarin Mint Gum ++Nystamps China Large Dragon Stamp # 1 Mint Og H $675 ŤChina 1914-19 1st Peking $10 Hall Of Classics Hinged MintChina Old Postcard Shanghai Local Post To General Customs Shanghai 1908 !!Interesting China Registered Censored Airmail CoverNystamps China Dragon Stamp # 159 Mint Og H $275China, 1885 1ca Green Large Dragon, Very Fine Used, Chan #10, Lovely StampChina Prc Sc#960-64, Cultural Revolution, "long Live Chairman Mao" Mint NhNystamps China Dragon Stamp # 97 Mint Og H $2100 ĿChina Prc 1960 Goldfish Used Cto Set China Stamps Taiwan 1966 Painted Face Of Chinese Opera NmhExcellent Stamp Lot Mnh, Very High Quality!China Prc 1951 Gate Of Heavenly Peace Peking Sg#1495-98 Set Of Used StampsChina Old Photo Postcard Manchuria Gouvernor Chinese General Chang Tso Lin !!Nystamps China Dragon Stamp # 120 Mint Og H $175China Large Stamp Collection, Includes Sinkiang Xinjiang Overprints, PerfinsNystamps China Large Dragon Stamp # 3 Used $450 ŤChina East 1945 40c On 25c Soldier Imperf Marginal Unused1953 China.cover From Baoji To Guiyang.rare Franking.usedChina Old Postcard Registered Mail To Peking German Asia Bank 1912 !!Tibet, Good Collection Of Early Imperf Stamps, Postmark/cancel