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”)



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]

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    

Mnh Prc China Stamp C94 Sc620-27 Mei Lanfang Set Of 8 Og Fresh Set VfChina. 1967. P.r.o.c. Mao's Poems. Incomplete Used SetMnh Prc China Stamp W1 Sc938-48 Thoughts Of Mao Set Of 11China 1898-1905 Chinese Imperial Post Stamps On Piece. Dragon. Must See Used Prc China Stamp W2 Mao's Set Of 8 China-rare-1913-cip Coiling Dragons-cover-chenchow-moukden-siberia-to-norwayChina. 1897. Used Collection Of OverprintsCto Used Prc China Stamp W1 Sc938-48 Thoughts Of Mao Set Of 11Stamp .. China Prc Sc#1586 Monkey A400 1980 Rare Margin Mnh-og/luxe C$2.000.00+Stamp Timbre S. Sheet .. China Prc Chine Sc#1617 Lotus 1980 Mnh-og/luxe C$350.00P R China--1967-- W3 Speech At The Yan'an Forum -----very Fine Unused-lot15632China Dowager Surcharged +1little Dragon Unused No Gum + Dragons Used Major V.fiPrc S-56 Butterflies MintChina Prc Interesting Cover With Roses (#16646)China. 1897. Used Collection, Dragons And Carbs.Used Prc China Stamp W10 Mao's Instruction Complete Set Of 5 F-vfChina 1962 Mei Lanfang Stamps Full Set UsedChina Formula Intl Airletter Sht Hankow To U.s. Nov 1948 Enclosure 2015-977Drbobstamps Prc China Scott #1541 Mnh Souvenir Sheet W/ Gold OverprintChina Prc 1963 S57 Hwangshan Mountain Landscapes Set Of 16, Vf Cto Og Lh SceneryChina Old Hand Painted Postcard Registered Mengtsz Tonkin Suez To Egypt 1904 !!China 1964 Flower S/s Mint Nh Scott #782 [id:9912]Mint Prc China Stamp S38 Gold Fish Set Of 12 Mnh Prc China Stamp C97 Set Of 6 China. 1878. 1 Ca. Green, Large Dragon. Unused Stamp.Mnh Prc China Stamp C109 Set Of 3 VfStamp Timbre .. China Imperial- Chine Sc#3 5c Dragon Rare Customs Chinkiang 1881China 1960 Cover. Basketball Sports Theme.P.r.china Stamp T46 Sc#1586 Year Of The Monkey 1980 Mnh + Bonus 11 Stamps YearsChina. 1897. 1 C. On 3 C. Red. Unused StampChina. 1894. 60th Birthday Of The Emperor's Mother. Used LotChina. 1885. Used Lot - Small DragonChina. 1878. 3 Ca. Red, Large Dragon. Unused Stamp.1904 Imperial China Postal Due Ovp On Coiling Dragons ½c To 10c Mh Sg: D137-42P R China--1970-- W19 An Example Of Revolutionary Youth Bigblock-unused-lot14965Drbobstamps Prc China Scott #1383 Scarce Mnh Souvenir SheetUsed Prc China Stamp Sc982-990 W5 Revolutionary Lierature Set Of 9 1897 Chinese Imperial Post Red Revenue Ovp 1c On 3c Vg Used Sg 88 Very High CvChina. 1950. First Anniversary Of P.r.o.c. - 1st Print - Complete Unused SetChina. 1940s. 3 Covers Postcards To Austria. All With Censor.China. 1878. 5 Ca. Yellow-ocher, Large Dragon. Used Stamp.Prc Collection Mint Never HingedChina. 1950. First Anniversary Of P.r.o.c. - 1st Print - Used LotChina-1904-cip Coiling Dragons-beautiful Postcard-lunar Wusong-shanghai- FranceP R China-----1950--- Mix W4,te.ji.n,r5,beaulieu 1/2cent ----all Unused-lot15670China, 1903 Foochow 1c Provisional Bisected Coiling Dragon Stamp, Chan #136aChina. 1898-1909. 2 Classic Album Pages. Up To $5P R China--1968-- W5 Chairman Mao's Revolutionary Line -triple---unused-lot13721China. 1878. 5 Ca. Yellow-ocher, Large Dragon. Used Stamp.Drbobstamps China Scott #1355-8 Mnh Complete Stamp SetChina 1962 Cat. Michel 648-655Nystamps China Red Revenue Stamp # 80 Mint Og H $500Nystamps China Large Dragon Stamp # 2a Used $450 大龍保真 Guaranteed GenuineChina. 1878. 5 Ca. Yellow-ocher, Large Dragon. Used Stamp.China Prc, 1964 S61 Peonies Set Of 15, Vf Cto Og Lh, Peony Flowers/faunaMint Prc China Stamp N57-62 Panda Set Of 6Stamp Timbre Booklet .. China Prc Chine Sc#1647 Cock 1981 Mnh-og/luxe C$375.00Drbobstamps Prc China Scott #1114-6, 1275-7, 1281-5 & 1121 (folded Once) All MnhChina Imperial Post Chinese Set Of 12 ; Very Fine Used.R O China--1896-1914-- Qing Dynasty Beaulieu 10cent -bigpage--unused--lot11071