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    

Drbobstamps Prc 1967-1968 Used Cultural Revolution Issues Og Vf Hinged StampsChina Shortpaid Uprated Postal Stationery Peking To Zurich Switzerland 1916China Chinese Stamps 1960 Chrysanthemum Fdc 6 Covers Set Drbobstamps Rep. Of China Nice Group Of Early Postal History (see Description)China 1978 Galloping Horses Set + Miniature Sheet. MnhChina Prc 1950 $20,000 On $10,000 Harvester And Ox Block Of 6 UsedChina Registered Cover Internal Mail Chungking To Peking 1903 "red Band" (3-26)Prc 1951 China Tian An Men R5 Used Full, Complete Set Sc95-100 Regular IssuePr China 1959 C71, Fdc Cover, Mao Zedong 10th Anniv. Of FoundingTaiwan 1962 Paintings - Top Set Mnh** Top Quality !! °/bl031Pr China 中國 Mi. 982 Sc. 957 Mnh 25 Th. Ann. Of Mao Literature & Arts 1967 StampChina 1959 C71 Mao Proclamation 10 Anniv.of Prc Mnh Gq Sc 456 Mi 484, 400 EuroChina Hong Kong 1898 Mixed Franking Qv Dragon Cover Foochow Fuzhou To England GbChina Prc Scott #948 4f Forbidden City W Mao Salutation Mnh Vf OgChina 1894 Empress Dowager 12c Mlh, Og, F-vfChina Chinese Stamps 1960 Chrysanthemum Set Mnh China Prc 1967 Scott #950 Chairman Mao With Poem Mnh Xf Full OgChina 1959 C71 Mao Proclamation 10 Anniv.of Prc Mnh Sc 456 Mi 484, 400 Euro10 China T58 Xinyou Cock Year Booklet Mnh Stamp 1981Pr China 中國 Mi. 984 Sc. 959 Mnh 25 Th Ann. Of Mao Cultural Revolution 1967 Stamp1875 China To France Cover, French Offices, Good Franking, Major Rarity !Rare China 1951 R5 $200,000 Blue Stamp, UsedChina Chinese Stamps 1960 Goldfish Set MnhDrbobstamps Prc Scott #1541 Mnh Sound Souvenir Sheet Scv $450Own Part Of China Classic High Value Stamp History;scott#1 Cat Value 325.00China Misrouted Color Ppc "peking Ping Tsö Gate" To Switzerland/uk 1907 S/scansOwn Part Of China High Value Stamp History; Scott#79 Used Cat Value 375.00 ShownChina 1923-33 2nd Peking Set Complete UsedChina North East 1947 Nanjing Road Incident Miniature Sheet Unused China Chinese Stamps 1970 Tiger Mountain Set Mnh (ref 4)Noblespirit No Reserve {1791} Valuable China & Prc Treasure TroveChina, Large Stamp Collection In Old Album, Early Dragons To Prc/liberated AreasChina Prc 1981 T58 Year Of Cock Block Of 4 MnhDrbobstamps Prc Scott #1904 Mnh Sound Souvenir Sheet Scv $180Ckstamps : Exceptional Mint & Used China Prc Stamps Collection In AlbumChina, Prc, N1-n6, 1970, UnusedDrbobstamps Republic Of China Early Used Small Dragons Stamps (see Description)Noblespirit No Reserve (th1) Superb China Prc No. 1433 T.29 'arts+crafts' Vf NhChina 1953 Cover To Sweden, Radio Gymnastics 8 Blocks S4 Original, $13000 RarityChina Old Cover Fukien Dragon Stamps !!China Prc Sc#1054-57, Centenary Of The Paris Commune N3 Mnh Vf NgaiStampChina Color Ppc "tsingtau, Inner Entry To Temple" Sent To Switzerland 1916China Prc 1749-61 Vfnh In Blocks Of 4 New Issue Post Office FreshChina Redband Letter Chefoo (?) To Tsingtao Kiautschou 1911 S/scansDrbobstamps Prc Scott #1433 Mnh Sound Souvenir Sheet Scv $300Noblespirit No Reserve {jw} Lovely China-yunnan Xfu-mlh Set = $360 CvChina #620-627 Used, Different View As Per Scan Scv $410.00++China 1932 Scientific Expedition Set Of 4 Hinged MintImperial China 1897' Red Revenue Large Fig 2 Cents Pair Clear Og Mnh/mhChina Chinese Old Dragon Stamp UsedChina Old Postcard Hand Painted Tientsin To Germany 1910 !!China Chinese Stamps 1964 Peonies Set Mnh (ref 2)China Stamps New T.82 The West Chamber 4 Sets-中国,china,chine ,old StampsChina 1943 Huainan Local Denominations With Stamp Mao RevolutionChina , 1980 , Very Nice Long Set , Paintings , Qi Baishi , Mnh ! China 1950-1990's Stamps Collection 950+ On Printed Pages. Used. 62 Photos.Prc China 1964 Peonies Flowers Bottom Margin Set (s61) China Prc 1981 T58 Year Of Cock Pair Of 2 Mnh