First cover bearing Shanghai stamps could deliver $231,000 in Hong Kong

The time is almost upon us for the sale of the piece which has been described as the 'Crown jewel' of Hong Kong stamp collections. The sale of the unique 96c olive-bistre block gets underway tomorrow.

Just to recap: the first stamps of Hong Kong were issued in 1862 in seven values from 2c to 96c brownish grey and there were two printings of the 96c totalling 138 sheets (240 stamps to each sheet).

Some of the original supplies did not need replenishing for some time and the next requisition for 96c was made in March 1864. This supply of only 52 sheets was in an unexpected olive-bistre colour.

There were no reasons for this change of colour and it is believed that this was a simple mistake made by De la Rue.

The 96c olive-bistre had a very short life. It was issued at the Post Office around January or February 1865. A new printing, in the correct brownish grey shade, was made at the same time and these supplies of these were available in Hong Kong around late July or August 1865.

Of course, this is not the only great philatelic rarity in the sale.

Unissued flying geese stamp
Unissued flying geese stamp

From the Chinese mainland The Rare and Unissued Flying Geese Without Value stamp is the most intriguing and beautiful.

The 1949 Dah Tung Print, Flying Geese in bluish green, is unused without gum. It is a superb example of this great rarity of Chinese philately with only six examples recorded to be in private hands. It would make an excellent investment

The design was produced for use as a unit stamp to be given the appropriate overprint, but was never issued. Similar designs, with values, were also prepared and the dollar values put on sale.

Some of the other examples of this stamp have suffered some ageing and are with tone spots or other defacing marks. This example is without fault and expected to bring HK$1m-HK$1.2m (up to US$154,000).

Also appearing is the first cover bearing Shanghai stamps from 1867 (19 April).

First Shanghai stamps cover
First Shanghai stamps cover

The entire letter to Nagasaki "Per 'Corea'" bear is an 1867 1ca. brown tied by a small garter cancellation in red and 3ca. olive-yellow (uncancelled), with the flap bearing a good strike of "shanghai/local post" despatch circular date stamp, which opens out well for display.

This is believed to be the earliest external use of Shanghai local post stamps on cover and is generally accepted as one of the most famous covers of Shanghai. It will sell with an estimate of HK$1.5-1.8m (US$231,000) in Spink's sale which takes place tomorrow (January 23) in Hong Kong and online.

Collectors and investors interested in stamps from the region may wish to take a look at these two rarities: an 1885 Chinese olive-yellow strip and this 1888 Taiwanese block of Horse and Dragons.


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