$5 on 3c Red Revenue stamp to star at $129,000 in HK auction

A fine original gum example of China's 1897 $5 on 3c Red Revenue stamp is to lead a philatelic auction of China, Hong Kong and Other Asia Stamps, which will be held January 27-28 in Hong Kong.

China $5 on 3c Red Revenue stamp
Very few $5 Red Revenue stamps have original gum as they were removed from remittance certificates

The large stamp will be sold with a $103,000-129,000 estimate as the lead item of the auction. A lesser example of the stamp with redistributed gum will follow, and is expected to sell for $90,000-129,000.

The Red Revenue stamps originate from Imperial China, where the inauguration of the imperial post and the changeover to the silver dollar system led to a demand for new values. With the introduction of a remittance system in 1898 - through which a maximum of $10 could be safely transferred - the existing 3c revenue stamps were surcharged at $5 - the highest denomination of the issue.

The resulting surcharged stamps were mainly used on remittance certificates as part of the new system. A temporary issue, these were printed in very small numbers - approximately 5,000. However, there was a strict policy in place at the time that demanded the destruction of both the remittance certificate and stamps on redemption, leading to even fewer examples known today.

As most of the $5 on 3c Red Revenues on the current market were removed from the remittance certificates, there are only a scant number that have survived with full original gum. The example at auction is one such stamp, having been only lightly hinged and in very fine condition.

Red Revenue stamps are among the rarest in all of Chinese philately and always see strong results. An 1897 $1 on 3c Red Revenue became the most highly valued Chinese single stamp, in 2010, after selling for $710,000. It has since been knocked from the top spot by a Whole Country is Red stamp, which sold for $1.1m in May 2012.

Hong Kong Queen Victoria Jubilee stamp cover
The rarest of all Hong Kong first day covers, and one of three which were found in the Farmer correspondence

Also starring in the auction is an 1891 first day cover (FDC) of the Queen Victoria Jubilee 2c carmine, which is the rarest of all Hong Kong FDCs. One of three from the Farmer correspondence, the cover will sell with a $26,000-38,500 estimate.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has the greatest treasure in Hong Kong philately for sale - the unique 96c block of four olive-bistre error stamps.  

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