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    

China Prc 1980 T46 Year Of Monkey Unaddress Fdc RareChina 1880-90s Small Dragon, Dowager And Red Revenue AccumulationChina-v Rare 7/9/1949 Silver Yuan Bisected 1c+4c Hushi To Fuzhou - Fukien/fujianDrbobstamps Prc China Scott # 1761 Mnh Vf Souvenir SheetChina Prc 1960 Goldfish Set Of 12 Mnh, S38China 1978 Horses Set + Ms ( T26 ) Mnh** Genuine And Very Good ! (fw13/224)China Prc 1978 T28m Galloping Horse S/s Unaddress FdcChina Prc 1978 National Science Miniature Sheet Unused, J25mChina Old Imperial Postcard Tsining To Tenghien 1908 !!China Prc 1974 Industrial Products Set Of 4 Mnh, N17Interesting China Airmail Censored Registered Cover W/ Large TearInteresting China Censored Registered CoverChina Old Postcard Paitaho Shanghai To Magedeburg Germany 1904 !!China Old Imperial Postcard Registered Mail Chefoo To Germany 1912 !!China-rare 18/4/1949 Gold Yuan Cover- $1,500 Rate-second Day Of Last Gold Yuan!China-very Rare-1943 Wwii-airmail-cover-50c Provincial Surchg-to-nigeria-frwd UkChina Old Imperial Stamp Dowager 30 Cents Used !!Us/ww(a-c), China, 3000+ Stamps Hinged In A Minkus AlbumInteresting China Censored Registered Airmail Cover W/ TearsChina Prc 1966 1st Sports Meet Set 4 Mnh Pairs, C121Prc W3 Cto Vf1962 Mei Lanfang Complete Set 8 Values Non Hinged UsedChina Prc, 1967 Cover To Italy With "thoughts Of Mao" Stamps Pair -m03China Prc 1949 Political Conference Original Set Unused, C1Drbobstamps Prc China Scott # 1844 Mnh Vf Post Office Fresh Souvenir SheetKa019 Pc India C.e.f.1902 F.p.o.nChina Old Imperial Postcard Soochow Shanghai To Roma Italy 1905 !!China Prc 1965-1975 Stamp Album 91 With Rare Stamps Mnh $2,210 2 X China Old Cover Shanghai Exhibition To Germany 1950 1953 !!Interesting China Censored Airmail Registered Cover W/ TearsChina-rare-1941-wwii-airmail Registered Cover Shanghai To Usa Via HawaiiDrbobstamps Prc China Scott #1080-1083 Mnh Set Of Four StampsChina Very Nice Assortment With A Lot Hi Cat Stamps In Big StockbookChina Old Imperial Stamp Large Dragon 5 Candarins Used !!China Old Postcard First President Of The Chinese Republic Yuan Shih Kai !!China Prc 1979 J42m Hong Kong Exhibition S/s Unaddress FdcChina Prc 1978 T29m Arts And Crafts S/s Unaddress FdcChina Prc 1962 C92 Scientists Of Ancient China Unaddress FdcChina 1950 C6 *1st Anniversary Of People Republic* Set Of 5 Roiginal? Mount MintMnh Prc China S68 Power Station Set Of 4 China - Collection Of Mostly Unmounted Mint Issues Mostly From 1980sChina Japan Old Postcard Formosa Taiwan Tamsui To Amoy Ijpo 1906 !!China Taiwan Registered Mail To France With Set Of Stamps Painting Emporers 1962Nystamps China Many Mint Old Stamp Collection Album With CoverChina-rare 1946 Yiyang Hun- Anhwa-hunan $19.80 Rate-60 Stamp-norwegian Mission1963 China Pandas - 3 Stamps, Original, MnhPrc N1 Cto, Block Of 4, VfChina Old Postcard Hbm Consulate Shanghai To France 1911 !!Momen: China Stamps 3ca Large Dragon Blue Customs Oct 17 1883 Lot #52571963 China Butterflies Collection Used. Momen: China Stamps # Postcard Lot #4763China Stamps New T.43 Chinese Classical Novel-pilgrimage To The WestNoblespirit No Reserve Excellent China + Prc Stamp Pages CollectionDrbobstamps Prc China Scott #1108-1113 Mnh Complete Set Of SixNystamps China Pr Many Mint Old Stamp Collection AlbumChina 1963 Landscapes Of Huangshan Sc# 716/31 S57 UsedChina Prc 1960 Chrysanthemums Set Used Cto Never Hinged S44China Prc 1963 C98 Karl Marx Birthday Unaddress FdcChina Old Postcard Peking Chinese Emperors Funeral 1909 !!China Old Imperial Stamp Large Dragon 1 Candarin Used !!