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    

China Stamp - Prc China Stamp W1 Mao's Instruction Set 1967 - Mnh Og - Used RareWeeda China Prc Registered 1951 Airmail Cover Shanghai-vancouver, Via Hong KongChina Old Postcard Shantung Shanghai To Duisburg Germany 1906 !!China Used Cto Full Gum 1964 9599Amazing China Prc Mint Stamp Sheet Including T82 Block J42m Collection M01 Feb 052 China - Chinese Empire Small Imperial Dragon 1, 3 & 5 Candarin High $$$China Old Cover Foochow Fukien Dragon Stamp !!China- Dowengers- Mint- Various- VfChina Wei Hai Wei Lkt Red Courier Stamp M/mint Rare1897 Dowager Large Figures Surcharge Complete Set MintChina Old Postcard Govenor Yuan Shih Kai Of Shantung !!Weeda China Local Post Wuhu Mint And Used Collection, Including Postage DueChina Imperial Coiling Dragon Cip With Litho Mint Stamp CollectionChina- Manchuria- 1927- Mint- 1/2 Ct To 2$- VfChina Old Postcard Dragon Stamps Canton To Germany 1906 !!China 1878 Large Dragon 1 Candarin Mint Prc China 1963 Landscapes Of Huangshan,s57, Scott 716-731, UsedChina Coiling Dragon Stamps From An Old Album Postmark Perfin OverprintPr China 1959 C67 10th Anniversary Of Founding Of Prc, Fdc Cover Pr China 1959 C69 10th Anniversary Of Founding Of Prc, Fdc Cover Set1883 Large Dragon Wide Margins 1 Candarin Mint Chan 4China Old Postcard Paoting Dragon Stamps 1901 !!P.r.china 1980 Sc#1557-72 Set Mnh VfWeeda China Locals Ichang Mint/used Collection, Plus SurchargedPr China 1959 C68 10th Anniversary Of Founding Of Prc, Fdc CoverChina Old Postcard Manchuria Harbin Dragon Stamps To Europe 1913 !!China Hongkong Old Cover Hong Kong Kowloon To Germany Retour 1923 !!China Prc Collection Of Used Mao Cultural Revolution StampsNystamps Pr China Many Mint Nh Stamp & Souvenir Sheet Collection Scott AlbumNystamps Pr China Stamp # 998 Mint Og Lh $275China- Postage Due- Mint- VariousWeeda China Locals Kewkiand Mint Collection, Including Postage DueChina- Large Dragon- 1cd- Pair- Lh-vfChina Stamp 1960 S38 Goldfish Mnh OgChina Wei Hai Wei Lkt Green Courier Stamp M/mint RareChina 1878-1929:large Dragon Stamp,mint Dragons,mausoleum $1, Junks-magnificent!China Ipc Postal Card 1c. Uprated 4c. Dragon Peking Boxer War To Germany 1901Pr China 1959 C70 10th Anniv. Of Founding Of Prc, Fdc CoverLot China J2,j43m,t58 Stamp Fdc Cover China Stamps From An Old Album (7) Butterflies Landscapes Flowers MonkeyChina Chefoo Local Post Stamps M/mintChina Hankow Local Post Stamps1878+ China Used Large Dragon 1c Stamp & Small Dragon 3c Stamps - SpacefillersChina T44 Selected Paintings Of Qi Baishi Nh Stamps China Old Cover Mao Stalin Shanghai Express To Hongkong 1953 !!China 1882 Large Dragon Stamp 1-3-5c Wide MarginChina- Dowengers Used- VfChina Prc 1951 Shanghai Meter Airmail Cover To New York Usa Via CantonChina 1964 Used Cto Hinged 9589China- Large Dragon- 1cd- Mint- 3ex1878 Large Dragon Thin Paper 3 Candarins Mint Chan 2China - 1885 - Sg13 To Sg15 - Cv £ 87.00 - Used - Chinese Imperial PostNystamps Pr China Stamp # 1904 Mint Og Nh $170China Old Postcard Paoting Hand Painted 1901 !!China Coiling Dragons Used Surcharged Mixed Condition But 1$ & 2$ Very Fine1969 China Prc Defence Of Chen Pao Tao Full Set Mh See ScansChina To Hong Kong N1-6 Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy Stamp Cover 1976Prc 1949 China Stamp Set Sc1l133-1l135 C3 Trade Union Congr. Unused Mnh ReprintsChina- Dowengers - Mint- Vf1912 Roc Overprint On $5 Flying Geese Mint Chan 166