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 Prc 1978, Science From Childhood T41, Sc# 1518, Mnh, Xf Souvenir Sheet #m8Year Of The Dragon Stamp Panel Of 9 China Stamps In Art Folder 1980 Monkey T 46China Old Postcard Chungking Peking Hankow To England 1909 !!China Excellent Early Collection 1878-1954 On Pages Loaded With Dragons & ValueChina Prc 1967-8, Mao Tse-tung Poems, W7, Sc#967-980, Full Set Used Stamps #m3China 1968 Latest Instruction From Chairman Mao Cto. Used Set Fresh AppearanceChina Prc, 1964, Peonies, S61, Sc# 767-781, Mnh, Xf, Stamps #m17China Prc 1960, Goldfish, S38, Sc# 506-517, Mnh Yellow Gum Stamps #m40China Prc 1967, Long Life To Mao, W4, Sc# 960-964, Mnh Stamps #m1Prc China 1950 Surcharge On North East China Stamps, Complete Set, Sc3, UnusedChina Prc 1958, Heroes Monument, C47, Sc# 344a, Mnh Xf Souvenir Sheet #m27China Prc, 1963, Hwang Shanr, S57, Sc# 716-731, Mnh & Mlh Stamps, High Cv #m30China 1962 Stage Art Of Mei Lanfang. Used Not Gum. (high Catalog Value)China Prc 1971, Founding Cpc, Sc# 1067-1075, Mnh Stamp Xf, Unfolded Strip #m4China 1967 Mao Poems 2 Etc. Mnh, OgChina Prc 1962, Mei Lan-fang Sc# 620-627, C94, Used Stamps #m36China 1910 Attractive Cover Temple Of Heaven Franking To Germany H60Ww, China, 2000+ Stamps Hinged/mounted In A 7 Vol Scott International AlbumsChina Prc 1968, Chairman Mao Goes To Anyuan, W12, Sc# 998, Mnh Stamp #m2China Postcard - Shantung, Yen Tzu's Temple, Ch'u-fou, Used 1910 To Uk Authentic China Tibet 1r $1 Overprint Goose Coiling Dragon Mint Gum Stamp T01China Prc 1984, Sc# 1904, Mnh Souvenir Sheet & Stamps #m16China 1902 Stationery With Interesting Cancelation To Germany H56China Prc 1965, Zunyi Meeting, C109, Sc# 818-820, Mnh Stamps #m20Prc China 1968 Mao's Revolutionary Line In Literature And Art, Incompl., W5 China Prc 1978, Bridge Stamp, Sc# 1452, Mnh, Xf, S/s, Souvenir Sheet #m6China W10 Latest Instruction From Chairman Mao /mint OgChina 1955 Sg.ms1663a. Set Of 4 Sheets Mnh.no Gum 1955China Prc 1960, Pig-breeding, S40, Sc# 518-522, Mnh Stamps #m41China Prc 1967, Thoughts Of Mao Tse-tung, W1, Sc# 938-948 , Used Stamps #m24China Prc, 1963, 4th Anniv Of Revolution, C97, Sc# 655-660, Mnh Stamps #m37China Prc 1961, Tibetan People, Sc# 600-604, S47, Mnh Stamps #m341897 $5 Flying Geese Mint Chan 103China Prc 1978, Arts And Crafts, T29, Sc# 1433, Mnh, Xf, S/s, Souvenir Sheet #m7Collection 19 China Used Small Dragon 1c 3c 5 C Stamps Unchecked For Variety K13China 16 Mint Dowager Stamps Overprint Gum Unchecked For Variety Rare Lot K12China Prc 1963, Butterflies, S65, Sc# 661-680, Mnh Stamps #m39China Prc 1978, J25, National Science Conferenc, Sc# 1383a, Mnh Xf Sheet #m5China Prc 1958 700th Anniv. Of Works Of Kuan Han-ching S/s, C50 Sc#355-357a, MnhChina Prc 1971, Paris Commune, Sc# 1054-1057, Mnh Stamps #m33China Prc 1955, Ancient Scientists, Sc# 245a-248a, Mnh Sheets & Stamps #m28China Old Cover Canton To Ka Yin Tsu !!China Prc, 1963, Children's Play, S54, Sc# 767-781, Perf & Imperf Stamps #m29China Prc 1965, Chingkiang Mountains, C73, Sc# 834-841, Mnh Stamps #m19China Prc 1960, Chrysanthemums, Flowers S44 Sc# 542-559, Mnh & Mlh Stamps #m31Prc China 1959 Fdc W/ 10th Anniv. Of Founding Of Prc(5th Set) C71 Sc# 456China Prc, 1964, Oil Industry, S67, Sc# 799-803, Mint New Gum Stamps #m18China Coiling Dragon Set Used + 3 Unus No Gum.all Fine Wm Yin/yang Never RepairdChina 1904 Used Ppc Funeral Monument W/ Boxed Cancels To Italy H59China, Taiwan, Collection Of Mint & Used Stamps, High Cv #y182Prc China 1968 Chirman Mao Goes To Anyuan, Sc# 998, W12, Unused China 1972 Stamp Set. Vf & Mnh ( Unused Stamp Set )China Prc 1981, T69, Dream Of Red Mansions, Sc# 1761, Mnh Souvenir Sheet #m14China Tibet Rare 1p-4a Pairs Overprint On Coiling Dragon Mint Gum 15 Stamps T03China Old Postcard Recreation Ground Kulangsoo Amoy Moukden To Germany 1913 !!China Prc 1979, T37, Camellias Of Yunnan, Sc# 1541, Souvenir Sheet #m13China 1909 Temple Of Heaven Compl.set In Blocks Of 20 +margin Og Nh Cto ShanghaiAuthentic China Dowager 2 8c Overprint On 6c 1 10c On 6c Stamps Margin Gum K01 China Postal History Air Mail Cover About 1950 Very Clean ItemChina Scott #1041 Imperf Sheet Of 1 Mint Lightly Hinged $550.00 Scv Nice!!