Today in History... China joins the Universal Postal Union

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) was set-up in 1863, following calls by the United States for an international postal congress.

The UPU was established with three main goals: a uniform or more-or-less flat rate to mail a letter anywhere in the world; equal treatment by authorities to foreign or domestic mail; and that each country should retain all monies collected for international postage.

It is largely thanks to the UPU that Paul Fraser Collectibles is today able to report on the plethora of fascinatingly well-travelled antique stamp covers which appear at collectors' auctions, bearing postmarks ranging from Hawaii, India and further afield.

Chinese Red Revenue rare stamp
The Red Revenue stamp overprint,
sold for $710,600 

Yet in recent months, and in the current collectors markets, extra fascination has been reserved for Chinese stamps - whose nation joined the UPU on this day in 1914.

A magnificent World Record was set earlier this year at Interasia with the sale of a One Dollar Red Revenue stamp overprint from 1897, the era of the Qing dynasty.

Estimated at HK$2,500,000-3,000,000, the fiery red stamp left the stage valued at HK$5.52m - or US$710,600.

It surpassed the previous World Record set for a Chinese stamp achieved, just a few months previously, in November 2009: HK$3.68m.

But even the Red Revenue stamp overprint's HK$5.52m hammer price wasn't the highest lot at Interasia's sale.

That honour went to a corner block of four stamps with the theme Victory of the Cultural Revolution. One of five 'Treasures of the Cultural Revolution', the stamps depict Chairman Mao and his military leader Lin Biao.

The block sold for HK$6.67m (US$ 858,700).

Just as China joined the United Postal Union in 1914, its collectors, investors and native stamps are today consolidating themselves as a major force in the global collectors' market.

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