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”)

Alphabetilately

Alphabetilately

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]

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    

Prc China 1967 Poems Of Chairman Mao Sc# 967/80 W7 UnusedRussia China 1903 Mixed Franking Китай+dragon Postcard Peking Shanghai To BerlinPrc China 1963 Landscapes Of Huangshan Sc# 716/31 S57 Unused[seb9] China 1980 Monkey The Rare Stamp Very Fine Mnh - See PhotosChina 1897 Red Revenue $1 On 3c Hinged MintUs/ww, China, 6000+ Stamps Hinged In A 3 Volume Grossman Regent Album(-1965)Prc: 1980, Fresh Lotus Souvenir Sheet, Scott #1617, Mnh, Cv $350Russia China Chinese Eastern Railway *КВЖД* Cer Envelope Seal Cover To PetrogradChina 1962 Mei Lan Fang Full Set Imperforate Mnh Republic Of China/taiwan Mint Never Hinged Stamps Scott#2216 ~ 2374 G1285Wow China Chinese Early Stamp Collection + Flowers 7 ScansRussia China Mongolia Extremely Rare Kyakhta Mai-mai-cheng 1912 Postcard!!!China (shanghai) Mint & Used Selection, 28 StampsChina No Gum China Taiwan 1962 Sc#1355-8 Set Og MlhNystamps China Dowager Stamp # 23 Mint Og H $575China Prc 520 Stamps + 3 Minisheets Chine PopulairePrc China 1966 1st Sports Meet Of New Asian Forces Sc# 920/23 C121 UnusedRussia China Overprint Kitai Upr/card From Chefoo To Tsingtau Sms Fürst BismarckChina 1897 Red Revenue $1 On 3c Fine UsedChina 1964 S61 Peonies Sc#767-781complete Set China-nice Lot Overprint UsedChina, Assortment Of Stamps Hinged On Scott PagesChina Large DragonPrc China 1963 Landscapes Of Huangshan Sc# 716/31 S57 UsedChina Taiwan 1970-1 Sc#1682-93 Set Og MnhNoblespirit No Reserve 4028/6 Colossal Cv China $12,000 Stamp CollectionWw, China, British Colonies, 2000+ Stamps Hinged In A Scott International Pt 2China Prc 1978 Horse Painting Mint Nh Set (t28) [seb10] China 1976 Horses The Rare Sheet Perfect MnhChina. Classic Stamps. 1963. Hwangshan Landscapes Nystamps China Large Dragon Stamp # 3 Used $400 大龍保真 Guaranteed GenuinePeoples Republic Of China Scott#1749-60 Set Of Silk Cachet First Day CoversNoblespirit No Reserve Colossal Cv China Oldtime Valuable Collection!China Mh Gum Condition Bit MixedChina 1897 Re-evaluation Surcharge On Small Dragon Stamps, Complete Set, Unused9281aj China Treaty Ports Mint & Used Stamp Collection - Much Sought After Lot?Nystamps China Dowager Stamp # 36 Mint Og H $375China Prc 1949 Trade Unions Set Of Three Originals On Illustrated CoverChina Imperial Post - 1878 Imperial Large Dragon, 1 Candarin Green, Used StampChina Classic MhNoblespirit No Reserve 4028/8 Colosal $9,000+ China Prc Stamp CollectionMomen: China Stamps # Used Cover $ Xbf #5701China 1961 Fdc Circulated,,zhan Tianyou & Chrysanthemums,,very Rare See 2 ScansChina $2 One Pulled PerfChina. Classic Mint & Used Stamps, Small Dragons, Dowager Princess, Foochow. Unsorted Off Paper 350g World Kiloware Stamps + Collection On Stock Cards .Prc China 100 000 Fen Regular Issue W/ Design Of Tian An Men (5th Print) R5 UsedChina 1894 Empress Dowager Set Of 9 Hinged MintChina 1897 Icp Coiling Dragons 1/2c To 50c Hinged MintChina Stamp Cover Registered Letter To Usa See Scan For ConditionChina 1878-83 Large Dragon Thin Paper 1ca Fine UsedChina 1897 Empress Dowager Large Surcharge Wide Spacing Hinged Mint GroupChina 1878-83 Large Dragon Thin Paper 3ca Unused Without GumChina Taiwan 1971-2 Sc#1740-9 Set Og MnhChina Ppc Hankow 1901 French Post Office Shanghai To AustriaChina 1897 Empress Dowager Small Surcharge 5c On 5ca X 2 Customs Shanghai CdsPrc China 1963 Long Live Revolutionary Socialist K Uba Sc# 655/60 C97 UsedPrc: 1975, Rural Woman Teachers, Internation Woman's Day, Scott#1218-1221,mnhChina 1894 Empress Dowager 9ca Used Part Customs Shanghai Cds