Whether you are a beginner or an old hand at collecting postage stamps, China stamp collecting can be very enjoyable. China's exotic past and quixotic recent history will expose you to many different eras. It is a history that spans from stamps produced as the 2,000 year-old Imperial era drew to a close to the stamps rich in history and cultural content used by modern China today.
Unless one lives in China, collecting Chinese stamps presents a challenge from the onset. Researching and learning about philatelic China can be enlightening in its own right, presenting an opportunity to learn more about one of the world's oldest and most intriguing cultures. Native Chinese have discovered the joys of China stamp collecting as well, as it has become a huge pastime for millions of hobbyists.
The history of Chinese stamps begins in 1878, with the issuance of the 'Large Dragon' series. This was the first public mail service, descended from a private diplomatic courier service for consular transactions and diplomatic corps communiques.
The Imperial Post Office, established in1897, ran until 1911. In between, many remarkable stamps were issued and the use of overprinting to recharge discontinued stamp stock created many rare collectibles. What followed over the next 40 years was a period of political turmoil, replete with a Japanese occupation, war-created hyperinflation and a victory by Communists revolutionaries in 1949. The strife helped to create a treasure trove of stamp collectibles that reflect the times.
Stamps produced during the last half of the 20th century reflected domestic China. The use of propaganda and nationalism throughout the period make stamps issued some of the most interesting in the entire philatelic world. The 'Cultural Revolution' alone produced extraordinary examples of Soviet realism art.
China stamps represent a virtual historical narrative of the Chinese travails from its Imperial past to today's cultural and economic powerhouse. Collecting China stamps can be rewarding and enlightening.