History of China stamps
Stamps first appeared in China after the Opium War in 1840. Some Western countries established posts in China'strading ports and issued stamps. These stamps were usedmainly for business exchangesand were notissued by China's Ministry of Posts. So we cannot regard them as Chinese stamps.
The first set of real Chinese stamps came into being in 1878 when the Post Office of the Qing Dynasty issued the Dalong or Giant Dragon stamps.They were printed from copperplate and bore the picture of a huge dragon against a background of clouds and waves. This set was issued three times: in 1878, 1882 and 1883. The yellow five-fen stamp with a wide margin, issued in 1883, is the rarest. Only one unused whole page exists in China and they are considered a treasure in Chinese stamps.
China Giant Dragon stamps
Today, commemorative stamps are quite popular in China. The first commemorative sheet of Chinese stamps came ort in November 1884. That was when the whole country celebrated the 60th birthday of Empress Dowager Cixi. She was the true ruler of the country at that time. This set is known in China as Long Life stamps. It consisted of nine different face value stamps. Each had a color variation and bore a picture of a dragon, a carp, a sailing boat, a peony flower, an evergreen, a large peach, or the Chiese character, shou, meaning longevity. Some of these stamps are hard to find today.
The first commemorative stamps of China
Regular stamps for common people's everyday use did not come out until November 16 1897. The first set of regular stamps was issued by the Post Office of the Qing Dynasty and was made in Japan from stoneplate. The face value of this set of 12 stamps ranged from half a fen to five yuan, based on the money system of that time.
Customs Small Dragon Issue Surcharged in Small Figures
In 1912, Dr. Sun Yat-sen became the temporary president of the newly founded Republic. He showed great concern for stamp design. Once he wrote about this in his diary. Then, a commemorative sheet and a regular set were designed. The commemorative bore the picture of Dr. Sun Yat-sen while the regular stamp had a picture of an airship. but the stamps were not issued because Yuan Shikai took over the post of president of the republic and he insisted that his portrait be printed on stamps. After discussion in the Parliament, it was decided that two sets of commemorative stamps would be issued, one had Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's picture , another Yuan Shikai's. Each set comprised 12 stamps. The two sets shared the same color, the same design and the same face values.
The first set of regular stamps by the Ministry of Posts of the Republic of China was finally issued in 1913. The set of 19 stamps had pictures of a sailing boat, a barvest scene, and a glazed tile memorial archway in Beijing.
The 1920s were the period when China suffered from chaos caused by the warlords. On July 1, 1921, the government controlled by the Northern Warlords issued the first aircraft stamps. The set of five stamps had a picture of a black airplane skimming over the Great Wall. This is also known by philatelists as the first aviation issue.
On October 1,1949, the People's Republic of China was founded. On October 8, New China issued the first sets of stamps to celebrate the convening of the first Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.On January 1,1950, the Ministry of Postal Services was set up in Beijing, opening a new page in China's postal history. Now, China's stamps are like a mini-encyclopedia, reflecting China's politics, economy, culture,science,history and geography.The special stamps and commemorative stamps are especally appealing to stamp collectors because of the unique artistic designs.