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”)

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]

Alphabetilately

Alphabetilately

First shown in 2008 to celebrate the Smithsonian National Postal Museum's 15th anniversary, Alphabetilately is esse… [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 1980 Stamp T46,sc#1586, Gengshen Monkey Year Mnh Og GenuineChina #713-715 Imperf.Prc W1 Chairman Mao's Thoughts - Postally Used.China 1978 T28, Sc#1389-1393, Galloping Horses, Mnh Margin Imprint Rare $$$[73] China 1897 Scott#78 Mint Cv:$500 **red Revenue With Surcharge**China 1973 N57-n62, Sc#1108-13, Giant Panda Set, Mnh Margin Imprint Rare $$$Hong Kong Po China Kgv 1922 Overprinted Sg#18-28 Mh Stamps Mounted MintChina 1971 N12-20, Sc#1067-75, 50th Anniv. Founding Cpc ,mnh Margin Imprint RareChina 1967 W4 , Sc#960-964, Long Life To Mao, Mnh Mint X-long Margin Rare $$$[69] China 1897 Scott#78b Mint Cv:$550 (central Character With Large Box)China 1960 Chrysanthemums In Natural Colors - Mnh / Og / Vf[04] Pr China Stamp T46 ** Year Of The Monkey ** Scott#1586 Mint Never HingedChina 1903 Coiled Dragon Multiple On Cover Chefoo To Nottingham Ohio Usa [07] China 1912 Scott#200 Mlh Cv:$200 **president Yuan Shih Kai**1898 Mixed Franking German Po/chefoo Local Post[10] China 1912 Scott#199 Mlh Cv:$160 **president Yuan Shih Kai**1951 Air Mail Cover From Tientsin To Paris W/air Mail Issue[01] China 1912 Scott#201 Mlh Cv:$600 **president Yuan Shih Kai**[08] China Selection Of Small Dragons Used (x12) High Catalogue Value!!!!China Classic Dragon - Lot Of Mh StampsChina - 1878/83 "large Dragon" 3ca Brown-red Fine Used Sg.2.1913 Registered Postcard To Germany W/republic+revolution+coiling Dragon Issues1914 Double Registered Cover From Lokchong To EnglandHong Kong Po China Kgv 1922 Overprinted Sg#19-28 Used Stamps Good PostmarksChina Stamp Coiling Dragon 1902 Field Postcard Peking-tientsin-hong Kong-germanyHong Kong Po China Kgv 1917 Overprinted Sg#01-14 Used Stamps Good PostmarksChina - Empire 3 Candarins "large Dragon" Stamp Used 1878 Azur Complet CancelChina Hand Painted Man Rides Bird Pre-paid Pc 1904 4c Dragon Shanghai P/ms C289China Prc 1974 Mao's Directives Postal Used Set Cover Front Sg 2585-2587 W7366China Wwii Register Air Mail, To U.s.a. British Censored, 驼峰航线 _c33[42] China 1897 Scott#79 Mint Cv:$825 **red Revenu With Surcharge**1922 Large Official Cover From Kiangsi Governor To Hankow RareChina Macau 1913-1926 2 X Stamps With Red Overprint Mint Hinged[48] China 1898 Scott#109 Used Cv:$300 Wild Goose **5 Dollars**1897 Red Revenue One Cent Mint Chan 87China Prc, Excellent Old Stamps Hinged On PagesWeeda China C11-c18 Short Set On Cover/front, Scarce Junkers F-13 Airmail IssueChina Prc Sc#767-81, Beautiful Chinese Peonies Complete Set S61 Mint NhChina 1967 Thoughts Of Mao Tse-tung Nh 8f Sg 2349a Cat Gbp4000 ($6000)China 1971.y(n4) 50th Anniv Of Founding Of The Chinese Communist Party. Rare!!!Manchukuo China Japan 1934 Unissued 8 Fen Never Hinged Block L46[63] China Prc 1974 Nice Selection Of Complete Sets MnhChina 1969 W18-6, Sc#1046, 43rd Anniv. Pla, Blk 4 Mnh Margin Imprint Rare $$$Imperial China 1878 Large Dragon Mint , Thin Paper 5 CandarinsChina Prc Sc#684-95i, 1963 Children's Day Imperf Set S54i Mint Nh1897 Dowager Large Figures Complete Set Mint Chan 56-64China Prc Fdc 1981, 红楼梦首日封 _c33China: Better Meter Cancel F1 Pitney Bowes "r" On Airmail Cover 1958 To GermanyPr China 1956 Air Letter Cover With R8 Postage 35 Fen, Mailed To UssrHong Kong Po China Kgv 1917 Overprinted Sg#07-13 Mh Stamps Mounted Mint[67] China 1888 Scott#14 Mlh Cv:$250 Small DragonFish 1960 China Michel 534/45 MnhDrbobstamps Prc Scott #1211-1214 Mnh Complete Stamp Set Cat. $415Useful China Used Section1965 China Fdc,victory Over Japanese First Day CoverNoblespirit No Reserve 1083 Rare Prc-china Fdc No.1761 & 1810 S/s =$250 CvChina Manchukuo Postcard 1934, 暂作一分五厘, Scarce _c331897 China Dowager Mint 5-cent On 5c. Overprint Vf - 42 Or 51Prc China Stamps 中国邮票 Presentation Folder 1951 No948China Prc 1981 T69 Dream Of Red Mansion Factory Imprint Mnh-xf Rare Set 中国邮票