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The Most Valuable and Rare Stamps of China

March 10, 2019

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Below you can find the most valuable stamps of China sold at various stamp auctions of the past years. Some of them are rare while some of the pieces became extremely expensive due to the printing error.

1. Red Stamp of 1969

Price Realized: $1,860,000

At the China Guardian auction held on May 18, 2013, the lower left corner block of the unreleased Chinese postage stamp of 1969 was sold for 6.67 million yuan (1 million 86 thousand US dollars at that time). The stamp shows the great Chairman Mao Zedong with his deputy Lin Biao, who welcome the workers carrying banners. Lin Biao was considered Mao’s successor, but he soon died in a plane crash. After his death, he was subjected to harsh criticism, so it is not surprising that not many stamps with his image have been saved or ever issued again. There were instances when the image of this politician was simply crossed out on the item and even cut out. When placing the lot, its approximate price was 5.8 - 8 million Chinese yuan. The block of four presented at the auction is among the very rare pieces (today there are three such copies) and this is the only one with two margins.

2. Red Revenue

Price Realized: $889,500


At the Interesia auction, which ended on July 1, 2013, the very rare not canceled postal stamp of China (1897) with an overprint of “1 dollar” became the undisputed leader of the event. This rarity cost its lucky owner 6.9 million Hong Kong dollars. There are different types of “1 dollar” overprints, which were used after China entered the Universal Postal Union. Significantly less valuable are issues with wide hieroglyphs. It is known about the existence of only 32 stamps with a narrow overprint, and each of them is assigned a serial number. The sold copy is #9. There is also one canceled copy, which is kept in a museum.

3.Map Error Stamp

 Price Realized: $474,000

This valuable stamp was sold at one of the philatelic auctions in 2009. This is a copy of a famous stamp; however, its peculiarity lies in its size since it is 2 times bigger than its primary version. The piece was issued in 1968, and it has an error on the map. As you can see, the map shows that the entire territory is red.

4. Surcharge Invert

Price Realized: $276,000


The stamp was sold nine years ago at a Cherrystone event. The piece was printed in 1925, and it has a surcharge inverted error. The copy was sold for as much as 276,000 USD.

5. 3-Cent Red Revenue Stamp

 Price Realized: $222,600


On December 15, 2012, at the Interesia auction, a Chinese postage stamp of 1897 with a black and green overprint was sold for 1,725,000 Hong Kong dollars. Importantly, stamps of this issue often appear on various auctions. After joining the Universal Postal Union, China used Red Revenue stamps and stamped them with appropriate overprints. Therefore, there is a standard overprint and a new value of 2 cents on the sold 3-cent stamp. The only difference between this specimen and the more common stamps is the green tone in the overprint color. As reported in the description to the lot, this variety could emerge as a result of the application of a black overprint from a poorly cleaned plate, which was previously used to make test stamps with a green overprint.

6. Blue-Green Surcharge Invert

Price Realized: $172,500


This is another blue-green piece with surcharge inverted error. This stamp was created in 1923 and sold at a Cherrystone event in 2010.

7. Classics Inverted Stamp

Price Realized: $160,000


On September 12, 2012, a rare postage stamp of China of 1915 with the image of the gate to the Temple of Buddha was sold at Cherrystone. The rarity was put into circulation as part of a series that includes 19 face values from 1/2 cent to 10 dollars with three different drawings. The usual two-dollar stamp with the Temple of Buddha is not among the rare ones, its price never gets higher than two hundred dollars. However, the piece sold at the auction has a significant feature - an inverted center. It is known about the release of only one sheet of 50 such copies.

8. Sun Yat-Sen Stamp

Price Realized: $150,000


At the New York auction, which ended on May 9, 2013, the leader of the auction was a blue postage stamp of China with an inverted portrait of Sun Yat-sen. In the description to the lot, 1940 is stated as the year of the release, although catalogs date this series to 1941. This issue was printed in New York by the American Bank Note Company. In general, the series is not of particular interest to lovers of exclusive pieces and only such a perfect overprint may be so expensive. As reported in the description to the lot, the copy was discovered in December 1945 by a schoolboy.

9. Red Revenue Unsurcharged Stamp

Price Realized: $138,000


This is another expensive and valuable stamp sold at Cherrystone in 2010. The piece was issued in 1896, and this is an not surcharged Red Revenue stamp. The copy was sold for as much as 138 thousand US dollars.

10. 1952 Series

Price Realized: $32,240


On August 31, 2013, at a David Feldman auction, a rare series of 1952 Chinese postage stamps with an error was sold. The series #C20 was issued by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of China in November 1952 to celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution, and it was supposed to indicate the strengthening of relations with the Soviet Union. The first stamp of the series shows Mao Zedong and Stalin on the Kremlin tower, the second – Lenin giving a speech at a conference. The third reproduces the statue of Stalin, and finally, the last one shows Stalin giving a speech. However, the artist made a mistake as he inserted an extra hieroglyph into the text and so the text said: “35 years of the Great October Revolution of the Soviet Union”.


China, Rarity