World Record prices at $8m 'largest ever' Chinese and Asian stamp sale

Interasia Auctions Ltd held the largest-ever stamp auction (in dollar sales terms) in Hong Kong, last weekend (July 31-August 1). The sale of Chinese and Asian stamps at the Park Lane Hotel realised a record total of HK$61,479,230 ($7,917,650).

The 2,200 lot sale of China, Hong Kong and Asian stamps saw many record prices and firmly indicated the markedly upward trend in both interest and prices for Chinese stamps.

Dr Jeffrey Schneider, Director,
Interasia's director and inter-
nationally recognised expert on
Chinese and Asian stamps

Over 200 room bidders joined more than 50 bidders on the telephone and hundreds of clients who had submitted written bids in advance of the auction, to produce the historic result and smash the auction firm's original HK$45,000,000 ($5,795,360) presale estimate.

Qing Dynasty great rarity brings HK$2,990,000

As we previously reported (with images), a real highlight of this historic auction was the sale for HK$2,990,000 ($385,070) of one of the great rarities of the Qing Dynasty: the only known envelope with the legendary "Emerald Lady" (the 1897 large figures surcharge 1½mm. setting on Dowager 1st printing 2c on 2ca), which additionally bears the only known multiple (a pair) of this extremely rare stamp.

Complementing this, the "Five Treasures of the Republic" - the five most valuable great Chinese rarities of the period from 1911-1949 - fetched a total of HK$6,037,500 ($777,544) (against a presale estimate of HK$3,000,000, $386,357) being one of the few occasions in history when all five of these important Treasures have been offered at the same time.

1980 Year of the Monkey stamp

The rarest of the five - the 1925 3c on 4c Inverted Surcharge - sold for HK$2,070,000 ($266,587), a World Record price. It's also one of ten examples of this great rarity and one of only approximately five unused examples.

Top to bottom: 1915 Sinkiang $1
with 2nd & 3rd Chinese characters
of overprint transposed; 1925 3c
on 4c Inverted Surcharge;  Hall
of Classics Inverted Center

The other Treasures include a 1941 stamp portraying Dr. Sun Yat-sen with his portrait printed upside down in error (HK$1,035,000, $133,293), a 1914-19 $2 stamp with its central design, the Hall of Classics in Beijing, again printed upside down (HK$977,500, $125,888), the 1923 2c on 3c Inverted Surcharge (HK$1,380,000, $177,724) and a major error on a China Hall of Classics stamp overprinted for use in Sinkiang Province, of which there are thought to be less than a dozen examples (HK$575,000, $74,052).

Year of the Monkey stamp sets World Record price

The ever-popular People's Republic stamps set a new standard, with record prices and keen interest from room, telephone and mail bidders from all over the world, reflecting the worldwide popularity of these stamps.

Almost 400 lots fetched a total of HK$12,655,175, $1,629,810 (versus a presale estimate of less than HK$8,500,000, $1,094,680). A complete sheet of 80 of the 1980 Year of the Monkey stamp set a New World record at HK$1,265,000, $162,914 to the amazement and applause of a packed room of stunned and frenetic bidders, selling to a telephone bidder from abroad.

The exceedingly rare 1953 unissued Navy military stamp similarly brought an eye-popping HK$1,495,000, $192,535.

Interasia director and world-renowned Chinese stamp expert Dr. Jeffrey Schneider remarked: "While we had expected strong demand for the PRC stamps from the region, we saw in this sale the beginnings of a very different trend.

PRC 1953 unissued Navy military

"A significant part of the PRC sale - along with key items - was sold to collectors and buyers in Europe and North America. This worldwide interest and demand reflects a broadening out of the market and no doubt contributed strongly to the astounding results our firm was able to achieve," he said.

'Stamps are important cultural icons and treasures, just like art'

The sale also saw renewed and heightened interest in the 1878-85 Large Dragons, China's first stamps, with the 160-lot offering fetching almost HK$8,500,000 ($1,094,680), more than 50% over the presale estimate.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Inverted Centre
(top); 1925 3c on 4c Inverted

This first major sale at auction of these important stamps in approximately 15 years will be complemented by a major sale of further portions of this incredible Large Dragon collection in Interasia's January auction.

The substantial offering of Hong Kong and other Asian stamps and postal history was likewise keenly bid on, highlighted by one of the finest Hong Kong and Treaty Ports postal history collections to come on the market in recent years that realised over HK$2,600,000, $334,843 (more than 50% over its presale estimate).

Stamps hold a "special place" in Chinese culture where, as Dr. Schneider noted, they are: "regarded as important cultural icons and treasures, just like art."

He also remarked that the "unprecedented economic growth of Mainland China had brought a whole new group of collectors to serious Chinese stamp collecting."

He mentioned that there also seemed to be "an investment boom in almost anything China-related from stocks to art and collectables - not only in Greater China but throughout the world, from Chinese and non-Chinese alike."

All price translations are shown in US dollars.


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