An 1879 Chinese Large Dragons cover will lead the Asian Stamps and Postal History sale at InterAsia Auctions in Hong Kong.
It's valued at $321,911-386,294 ahead of its appearance on June 26-29.
This 1879 cover is addressed to an Imperial Maritime Customs officer in Shanghai
The Large Dragons issue was the first official Chinese postage stamp. It went on sale in 1878, making this one of the earlier surviving covers.
It's addressed to William Hancock, a British Imperial Maritime Customs officer, and was sent from Taipei in Taiwan to Shanghai.
As it passed through the customs system it was stamped with two customs date stamps - one issued at Tamsui (a suburb of Taipei) and the other at Amoy in China.
The auction house calls it "indisputably, the greatest postal history item of Taiwan…
"The Large Dragons 3 candarins stamp represents payment of domestic postage to Peking, where Hancock had been stationed since 1 October 1879.
"Such mail to Customs officials during this period was often times addressed and sent to the central Customs Office in Shanghai through the Customs Post and then forwarded on to Peking via Tientsin through the Customs Postal Department, which handled official mail…
"There are only four envelopes from Tamsui recorded during the 1878-82 early Customs Post (Large Dragons) period with the 'Customs/Tamsuy' double-ring d.s."
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