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]



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

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 Monkey T46 1586 Mnh PerfectPr China 1960 S38 Goldfish Imp Mnh Sc#506-517China Prc 1967 Poems Of Mao W7 Complet Set 14 Stamps Mnh PerfectChina - Huge Collection Of Mint Part Sheets 1930s To Late 1940sChina Prc 1971 50th Anniv Of Communist Party Complet Set 1065/1075 Mnh PerfectChina Old Registered Mail Cover Peking !!China 1967 1968 Mao Tse - Toung Collection Revolutionary Theater MnhChina Prc 1979 Souvenir Sheet Study Science 1518 Mnh PerfectChina Prc 1977-81 Rare Presentation Book With Mnh Stamps & The Red MonkeyPr China 1963 S57 Hwang Shan Complete Set Blk4 Cto Sc#716-731China Prc 1978 Souvenir Sheet T28 Horses Mnh PerfectChina 1950s/60s M&u Lot (app 110+stamps) [g9429]China Old Postcard Prisoners Post Bando Japan To Canton 1919 !!China Prc 1972 Yenan Forum Complet Set 1083/1089 Mnh PerfectPr China 1967 W3-3 Yanan Forum Literature & Art Blk4 Imp Mnh Sc957China Prc 1974 Industrial Products Complet Set 1211/1214 Mnh PerfectChina Stamp:#prc China #1389-1398 Galloping Horse Set Of 10 Stamps MnhChina Stamp Prc T46 Geng Shen Year Monkey Stamp 1980 Scott #1586 Tl375China Prc 1965’ S73 Jinggangshan Mountain Complete Set Mnh OgChina 1885-88 Small Dragon Perf 12 Set Of 3 Hinged MintChina Stamp:#prc China #n53 54 55 56 1973 Set MnhChina Prc 1973 Panda Complet Set 1108/1113 Mnh PerfectChina German Old Inflation Cover Registered Ludwigshafen To Siangtan Hunan 1923!China, Prc, Excellent Selection Of Stamps Hinged On Minkus PagesHong Kong Early Classic Stamp Collection Used Abroad In China & Japan, PostmarksSmall Collection Of China Chinese Vintage Postally Used StampsChina Prc 1980 Souvenir Sheet Lotus 1617 Mnh PerfectChina Old Double Postcard International Troops Peking Boxer War To Italy 1901 !!1966 China Rare Set Used Stamps No ReserveChina Prc 1978 Souvenir Sheet Art And Craft 1433 Mnh PerfectChina Prc 1972 Red Flag Canal Complet Set 1104/1107 Mnh PerfectChina 1968 Mao Tse - Toung 1759/61 Revolutionary Theater MnhChina Prc 1972 Ships Complet Set 1095/1098 Mnh PerfectChina Prc 1979 - 1980 Souvenir Sheet Painting Of Baishi 1573 Mnh PerfectChina Prc Stamp 1968 Sc#998 Mnh Og W12 Chairman Mao Going To An Yuan 1921China Stamp W7 X2 ƖChina Prc 1979 Souvenir Sheet Great Wall Overprint Exhibition 1492 Mnh PerfectChina Old Postcard Tsinanfu Chinese Gouverneur Choufu Tsingtau To Germany 1904!!Prc Peoples Republic Of China Stamps # 798a S/s Dealer Buy Price $5,000 RareChina Prc 1979 Souvenir Sheet Great Wall 1483 Mnh PerfectChina 1929 Air Set Mounted Mint...China Hongkong Old Postcard Hong Kong To Bruxelles Belgium 1883 !!Pr China 1967 W7-6 Poems Of Mao Fairies Imp Mnh Sc#970China Prc 1978 Souvenir Sheet Science Conference 1381a Mnh PerfectChina Prc 1981 Souvenir Sheet Dream Of Red Mission 1761 Mnh PerfectChina Prc 1973 Dance Revolutionry Ballet Complet Set 1126/1129 Mnh PerfectChina Prc 1971 Albanian Labor Party Complet Set 1080/1083 Mnh PerfectChina Old Imperial Hand Painted Postcard Shanhaikwan !!China To O Us Germantown Pa 1920's Cover With Junk IsuesCollection Of China Chinese Vintage Mint Stamps In 1950s China Transparent Cover Cip Coil Dragon Stamps U Tientsin City To Peking (33)China 1956 Good Airmail Cover Peking To East Germany/ddr ,chine, Engels, SavantsChina 1899 Stationary Or Postcard,peking Via Shanghai-hongkong To AustriaNoblespirit~ No Reserve~3668/72 Excellent China Prc 1255-70=$230 Gem Xf NhChina Republic Registered Cover Yencheng To Usa 1913Pr China Stamps T69 Whole Set Mnh Og Very FineChina, Prc, Excellent Selection Of Stamps Mostly Mounted On Minkus PagesChina Collection Of Stamps Fm Early To Prc On 5 Stocksheets + 2 Covers, Job LotChina, Excellent Assortment Of Stamps Hinged/mounted On Scott PagesChina Pr R-letter, Mao-stamps