1878 5ca Large Dragon sheet to headline Kelleher at $58,000

An elusive sheet of 1878 5ca Large Dragon stamps - China's first issue - will star at Kelleher & Rogers as part of its January 9-11 auction in Hong Kong.

1878 Large Dragon sheet
The Large Dragon issue was China's first, and is today among its most valuable

The complete sheet of 25 stamps is valued at $51,500-58,000. It has retained its full original gum and is in pristine condition, with fresh and bright colours making for an exciting opportunity. The right margin has been professionally reattached.

The Large Dragon issue emerged as a result of the Imperial Maritime Customs mail service, established by Englishman Robert Hart, being opened to the public. Denominated in candarins, they are some of the most valuable Chinese stamps today.

The second highest bids of the sale will be seen by a 3ca sheet of Large Dragon stamps, valued at $45,000-51,500. Another original gum example with full margins, it is described "as fine an example of an 1878 3ca sheet as can be found".

In 1897, the Customs Post became the Imperial Postal Service, with the new stamps due to appear in cents and dollars rather than candarins. However, the new stamps were not available in the first part of the year, as existing stocks were surcharged.

A sheet of these surcharged 1897 Large 1c on 3c Red Revenue stamps is valued at $26,000-32,000.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has an exceptional selection of rare stamps for sale.

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