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    

0809 China Sinkiang Kashgar Osh 1900registered Cover Swen Hedin Expedition Tibet08186 China 1916 Shanghai Wwi Censor Cover 2 Rare Cancels Railway Postal Wagons1904 Imperial China 10c O/p Postage Due Dragon Stamps Used In Block Of 4 @@1967-1968 China Prc # 967-980 Full Set Used - Poems By Mao Tse-tungChina 1878 Large Dragon Stamp Mint Unused 1 Candarin 質量中國郵票0818 China Sinkiang Kashgar Osh Postcard To Germany (swen Hedin Expediti Tibet?)Rare Chinese Stamps On Cover!! 20f And 22f Mei Lan-fang -china Stamp Cover - UkChina /early Meter Label/airmail Piece/,cranes/ Good Color/ Great PostmarksChina 1897 Mint Red Revenue 1ct 質量中國郵票1963 China Hwangshan Landscapes Set Stamps Used1912 Waterlow And Sons Ovpt On Flying Geese $5 Mint Chan 183China 1899-1912 1c Orange Coiling Dragon Fu Used With Kuliang Bridge Type Cancel1897 Imperial China 1c On 1ca O/p Dowager Dragon Stamps Used In Block Of 4 @@Powerful China Collection Used #51897 Imperial China 1c On Ica Small Dragon Stamps Used In Pair On Piece ScarceChina, Large Stamp Collection In Old Album, Early Classics/prc/liberated AreasChina T44 Selected Paintings Of Qi Baishi With Factory Imprint Stamp 1980China 1885-1913 Early Stamp Collection: Dragon, Dowager, Post Offices Etc 質量中國郵票1967-1968 China Chairman Mao 6 X Stamps Lot Used1960 China Chinese Goldfishes Set Stamps Mounted Mint M/m - Some ImperfectionsChina Prc Good Lot Used Incl Cultural Revolution °/bb268C761 China Taiwan / Formosa1962 - Yvert 419/422 4 Stamps Mnh. Cat 210 €China Prc 1971 Mnh & Mh N12-20 50th Anniversary Founding Prc-blocks-imprints-maoChina 1913 Mnh Junk 7ct London Printing, Block Of 25, Fresh Full Gum 1900 Russia Red Band Cover From A Chinese Firm In Vladivostok To Shanghai, ChinaChina,chine:1964 Peonies,complete Set, Mint Never Hinged- Mnh.original & GenuineChina 1897 Red Revenue 2 Ct Used 質量中國郵票1907 Russia Red Band Cover From A Chinese Firm In Vladivostok To Shanghai, ChinaChina To Usa 1951 CoverChina Old Cover Shanghai To Germany 1964 !!Powerful Small Dragon Collection MintPowerful Prc Collection Mint Never Hinged #3 With Faults1898/1910 Imperial China 7 X Dragon Stamps Used Nice PostmarksChina High Cat Classic Collection On Pages - Please Read:China S60 Golden Haired Monkek Imperf Nh Stamp 196308121 China Sinkiang Urumchi Cover Frm Germany V/ Russia To Explorer Swen Hedin China Old Cover Manchukuo Fdc Harbin To Milano Censor 1941 !!1878 Imperial China 3ca Large Red Dragon Stamp Used !! (2)China Prc 1968 Art & Literature Revolution Used Group (w5) China Ord 11 Red Revenue Converted Into Postage Stamps 4 CentCkstamps : Terrific Mint & Used China & Prc Stamps Collection In Album Pages1912 Waterlow And Sons Ovpt On Flying Geese $2 Mint Chan 182China-red Revenue- 2cts- Mint- HingedGermany Ddr 1951 China Mao Stamp Set Airmail Cover Berlin-london 1878 Imperial China 1 Ca Large Dragon Stamp Mint Unused No GumChina-small Dragons- Pair- MintChina Prc 1964 C106 15th Anniversary Of Peoples Republic Strip X 6 Used 中国质量邮票China Stamps Having Travelled & Serv For Post Major Part Very Fine To ExamineChina Prc T46, #1586, 1980 Gengshen Year Of The Monkey Mnh VfChina 1981 T58 Rooster Good Complete Booklet Very Fine Mnh Nystamps China Manchuria Stamp # 20 Mint Og H $325China-large Dragon- 3cd Used- Very Fine-bisChina T44 Selected Paintings Of Qi Baishi Mnh Stamp 19801960's China 22 X Beautiful Odds & Ends Stamps Mainly Fine UsedChina, Surcharge Lot 1897 Used1878 Imperial China 3ca Large Red Dragon Stamp Used !! (1)Powerful Prc Collection Mint Never Hinged #8Drbobstamps Prc Sc #957-959 Mnh Rare Set Of 3 Stamps 2016 Scv $14001878 Imperial China 1ca Large Green Dragon Stamp Used !!China - Interesting Lot On Old Pages + Stockcards H331