1879 Large Dragon cover expected to bring $155,000 in HK

A rare cover bearing three examples of the Large Dragon stamp is to provide some of the highest bids in a forthcoming Chinese philately auction, which will be held December 15-18 in Hong Kong.

1878 Large Dragons cover Customs/Shanghai cancel
The cancellation's fine design caused almost all stampings to be illegible

The cover, which is boosted in value by a rare cancellation, will sell for $129,000-155,000 at auction. The 1878-1885 Large Dragons were China's first stamps and some of the most desirable for collectors, with excellent results seen at the auction house's May sale.

The cover boasts three 1 ca Large Dragon stamps and is dated September 1, 1879. The stamps are crisply cancelled by two excellent strikes of the "Post Office/Chinkiang" datestamp and also display a "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring datestamp, which is believed to be the finest recorded example of its kind.

Only eight covers are known to feature the "Customs/Shanghai" stamping, with the cancellation only in use between February and September 1879. The fine design of the cancellation caused almost every strike to be illegible and ultimately led to its replacement.

1881 Large Dragon Hong Kong combination cover
The Hong Kong combination cover was sent to Wakefield, England by the Winter Overland Service

Sharing the $129,000-154,000 estimate is an 1881 Hong Kong combination cover, which is one of eight recorded at the 11 candarins rate. Featuring an 1878 1 ca Large Dragon, two 5 ca orange and a Hong Kong 10 ca mauve, it is also one of only nine properly franked Large Dragon letters recorded with Hong Kong combinations.

The world record for any Republic of China (1912-1949) stamp was set in October by an extremely rare pairing of the $2 Dr Sun Yat Sen invert, which sold for $707,000 in Hong Kong.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a magnificent Hong Kong block of four 96c Olive-Bistre stamps for sale - a unique block, it is considered the greatest treasure of Hong Kong philately. Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more of the latest news from across the stamp collecting community.

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