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  • China: why you should be buying rare stamps today
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • China:shouldwhyyou

China: why you should be buying rare stamps today

It was frowned upon as a frivolous bourgeois pastime during the Cultural Revolution, but stamp collecting has grown in popularity in recent times in China.

Now encouraged by the government, a growing minority of China's 1.3bn people are rich enough to compete for anything.

The famous 'Ice House Cover' is the only known example of a 90c, full-face portrait of Abraham Lincoln on cover (ie fixed on a contemporary envelope).

It was discovered in 1914, and at one point bought by steel magnate J D Baker from whom it was stolen in 1967 and recovered in 2006.

In June 2009, after much anticipation, the piece was sold after frenetic bidding from all round the globe.

The buyer? From China of course... Arthur K M Woo, a physician and philatelist from Hong Kong, who paid $496,000.

Stamp collecting is also taking off in India and Japan, but at the moment it's China where the market is centred with nearly a third of the world's stamp collectors there: 15m out of 48m.

Chinese stamp collectors are well catered for with over 50,000 government sponsored philatelic societies around the country.

Stamps from the Cultural Revolution are popular, with fine pieces selling for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As we reported, a rare 1897 Chinese stamp sold at auction for £330,000 just last month. Again, the purchaser was Chinese, this time from Beijing.

Stamp collecting in China is undoubtedly on the rise with hundreds of thousands of people attending the recent World Stamp Exhibition in Luoyang, a decade after it appeared in China, in Beijing, for the first time.

"The people went crazy," commented the Hong Kong Philatelic Society's chairman, Andrew Cheng.

"They were not all rich people, but they were just buying everything. The masses, you just would not believe it. And compared to 1999, you've got a lot more serious collections by mainlanders."

Prices are also rising steadily in Malaysia and Singapore, with a Stamps of South East Asia sale in the latter generating sales of about $1m.

That sale included a sheet of 4c stamps from the no-longer existing British colony of Straits Settlements which sold for the equivalent of $41,600.

Asia is moving into collecting in general, especially with wine sales and the Chinese government recommending people invest in precious metals (including coins).

We recommend clients build a rare stamp portfolio before Chinese disposable incomes reach Western levels - that's when prices of rare stamp will truly take off.

For more information on rare stamp investment please contact Adrian Roose +44 (0) 117 933 9503 or email


  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • China:shouldwhyyou