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Postby OXLEY-STAMPS » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:01 pm

The Stamps of China (1908)

By William Cochrane|October 12th, 2014|"The Postage Stamp", Articles, Asia, China, History, Philatelic Publications, Tibet|6 Comments
This excellent article was written by the noted philatelist Edward J. Nankivell and first published in The Postage Stamp, February 1908.

The Chinese Empire comprises what is termed China Proper, and the Dependencies of Manchuria, Mongolia, Eastern Turkestan, and Tibet.

China Proper has an area of 1,532,420 square miles, and a population of 407,253,029. The Dependencies have an area of 2,744,750 square miles, and a population of 18,710.000.

The Government is highly centralised, but there is a long-established popular government in local affairs. The central government is imperial, and the title of Emperor is hereditary in the reigning family, but there is no settled rule of descent. The Emperor has the right to nominate his successor. The present dynasty is a Manchu one and dates from 1644. The Manchus originated the now universal “pig-tail” fashion of wearing the hair. The Emperor is supreme in the government, and he has a cabinet to assist him, known as the Nei-ko. This cabinet is composed of two Manchu members, two Chinese, and two assistants from the Great College. The country is divided into eighteen provinces, administered by viceroys. The capital is Peking, with an estimated population of 1,000,000.

The present Emperor is Tsai-Tien Kwang-Hsu, a son of Prince Chun. His mother, who died in 1896, was a sister of the present Empress-Dowager. He was born in 1872 at Peking, and ascended the throne on 22nd January, 1875. He married in 1889 his cousin, a daughter of Duke Kwei, who is a brother of the Empress-Dowager. During the early part of his reign the Empress-Dowager Tsu-Hszi, who was born in 1834, was supreme. Nominally the Emperor assumed full control of the government in 1889; but if reports are true, the Empress-Dowager is still the power behind the throne, for when he showed himself in favour of progress and reforms this imperious lady resumed the regency and relegated the Emperor to a back seat.

Of late China has been developing her internal resources in her own way, and without the help of foreigners; everything, in fact, is being done to hold China for the Chinese. Even Sir Robert Hart, the Inspector-General of Customs, would have been removed or superseded but for British interference. He has organized the Customs with marked success, and notably the postal service.

Its Philatelic History
For many years China was known to stamp collectors for the fewness of its stamps. It issued its first postage stamps in 1878, and that issue served all purposes till 1885, when there was another issue, which lasted till 1894, when there was a special issue to celebrate the Empress-Dowager’s sixtieth birthday. Then in 1897 there was a new series to inaugurate the Imperial Chinese Post, under the direction of Sir Robert Hart. This series, with slight modifications of the designs, is still in use.

The stamps of China do not attract the attention of many specialists in this country. In the United States, I am told, they are much more sought after, but with us they are regarded as being too simple and straightforward, and quite free from those perplexing problems that delight the specialist in other countries.

Nevertheless, the postal issues of China are by no means so simple and easy as they are believed to be. I have specialized in these stamps for many years, and have hunted high and low for sheets of the first issue, in the belief that when I got a complete sheet of each of the three values I should be able to solve all questions. After many years’ searching, after ransacking stocks in all directions, I have managed to secure three or four sheets of each value, together with portions of other sheets.

Instead of enabling me to solve all difficulties, they have opened up unsuspected questions of the most interesting character.

It has always been thought that the sheets of the first issue were small and uniform in size.

Mr. J. Mencarini, a high official of the Imperial Maritime Customs of China, has just published an excellent brochure on the Postage Stamps of China, 1878-1905. It is full of the most valuable information collated from official sources. Mr. Mencarini tells us that “the first set of three stamps, 1, 3, and 5 candarins, were engraved on copper by a native artisan and printed at the Customs Statistical Department at Shanghai,” that they “were typographed at Shanghai on white wove paper, in blocks of twenty stamps.” He also speaks of printings that could only be made up of sheets of 25.

The sheets and portions of sheets in my collection enable me to produce evidence of the fact that the printings were not confined to sheets of 20 stamps, that there were also of each value sheets of 25 stamps, and further, that of those sheets of 25 stamps there were two plates of the 1 candarin and 3 candarins, and probably of the 5 candarins also, making in all three separate and distinct plates of each value.

In fact, we have sheets of 20 of each value and sheets of 25 of each value, and further sheets of 25 of a separate and distinct setting.

Let us examine the evidence in detail. As Mr. Mencarini’s information is drawn from official sources, we may accept his statement that all three values were printed in sheets of 20 stamps.

Sheets of 1 Candarin
I have this value in a sheet of 20-five rows of four stamps; also in a sheet of 25-five rows of five stamps, in which the stamps are very much more widely spaced.

In what we may term the narrow spacing the stamps are separated by a space of 2½ to 2¾ mm; in the wider spacing they are separated by a space of 4½ to 5 mm. The sheet of 20 stamps is of the narrow spacing. So that we get of this value :-

Sheets of 20 stamps, spaced 2½ to 2¾ mm.
Sheets of 25 stamps, spaced 4½ to 5 mm.

Sheets of 3 Candarins
Of this value I have two rows of four stamps with top and side margins complete, and another block of two rows of four stamps with bottom and side margins complete, which evidently formed portions of sheets of 20 sheets. Of the narrow spacing I have, also full sheets of 25 stamps, and a horizontal pair showing the wide spacing, so that we may conclude that this value was printed in-

Sheets of 20 stamps, spaced 2½ to 2¾ mm.
Sheets of 25 stamps, spaced 2½ to 2¾ mm.
Sheets of 25 stamps, spaced 4½ to 5 mm.

Sheets of 5 Candarins
I have no sheet, or portion of a sheet, of 20 stamps of this value, but we may accept Mr. Mencarini’s statement that there were printings of sheets of 20 stamps. I have sheets of 25 in the narrow spacing and I have been shown an undoubted used copy of the wide spacing. Therefore, we can safely list the following of this 5 candarins value :-

Sheets of 20 stamps, spaced 2½ to 2¾ mm.
Sheets of 25 stamps, spaced 2½ to 2¾ mm.
Sheets of 25 stamps, spaced 4½ to 5 mm.

Summarizing this evidence, we therefore get the following list :-

Sheets of 20 stamps
Narrow spacing, 2½ to 2¾ mm.
1 candarin, green.
3 candarins, red.
5 candarins, yellow.

Sheets of 25 stamps
Narrow spacing, 2½ to 2¾ mm.
3 candarins, red.
5 candarins, yellow.

Sheets of 25 stamps
Wide spacing, 4½ to 5 mm.
1 candarin, green.
3 candarins, red.
5 candarins, yellow.

So great is the difference between the narrow spacing and the wide spacing that it is quite easy to separate even single stamps by their very wide margins into narrow and wide spacing; the measurement horizontally across the stamp, from perforation to perforation, is 24½ mm. in the narrow spacing, and 26½ mm in the wide spacing. This difference is more than ample to allow for such irregularities as occur.

The Printing
In one place Mr. Mencarini tells us the stamps were engraved in copper, and in another place that they were typographed. The word “typographed” here is evidently used in place of the word “printed,” and not as indicating the particular process of printing adopted.

Accepting Mr. Mencarini’s statement that the designs were engraved on copper, I imagine that transfers were taken from the copper-plate die, and that the sheets were made up on the lithographic stones and reproduced by lithography.

It is very likely that the first sheets were composed of 20 stamps, and that, for the purpose of more rapid production to meet the increasing demand, or for purposes of account, the size of the sheet was enlarged to 25 stamps.

The wide spacing was probably the first form of the sheets of 25 stamps, for it is very scarce.

Then, seeing that the space between the stamps was unnecessarily wide for perforation purposes, and that the narrow spacing of the first sheets of 20 stamps was ample, they probably decided to lay down the narrow spacing as before. In support of this theory it may be noted that copies of the narrow-spacing variety are comparatively common.

Thick and Thin Papers
I do not attach much importance to the catalogue division into thick and thin papers, for my gatherings lead me to the conclusion that the stamps of the same printings were printed indiscriminately on paper of varying substance.

Mr. Mencarini divides the issue into “thin” and “thicker” papers, and even gives the number printed of each, but the difference is not sufficient to entitle it to catalogue rank, and it certainly does not mark different printings.

From the sheets and stamps 1 have examined I conclude that in all the printings but the last, thin and thicker papers were used.

The sheets of 25 stamps with narrow spacing were probably the last printing of this first issue, and all the specimens I have seen of this variety so far have been on uniformly thin paper.

Other Questions
There are other questions concerning the make-up of the sheets affecting individual stamps, and the opening for plating, etc., which I must leave for the present.

Questions may arise, as the result of closer study, whether the stamps were all reproduced from the same copper-plate die. Some present such differences that one would not be surprised to learn that the stamps were drawn by n. lithographic artist on the stone from the original design.

There are many distinct and interesting shades in the first issue, indeed in all the issues there are very marked gradations of shades.

Postmarked Copies
With the help of postmarked copies much may be accomplished in the direction of solving some of the problems referred to. We may for instance decide the question of the wide and narrow spacing–which came first.

With the view of including everything that will complete the history of the postal system and the postal issues of this most interesting country, I quote in extenso the following translation from der Ostasiatische Lloyd in the American Journal of Philately :-

“In view of the approaching establishment of an Imperial postal service in China on the European pattern, a birds-eye view of the existing postal service, as well as its past history, ought be of general interest. The service itself was always in the care of the Ministry of War. It was during the supremacy of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that the transmission of passengers and mails acquired considerable importance, and began to be well handled. However, in the 17th century, this system fell from its high plane, because the Government officials began to exploit it for personal advantage. It was only on the accession of the second Mantschu Emperor that the service again achieved its previous success, and in fact became greatly extended. The conquest of new territories made good and regular connection more necessary than ever. For the management and general control of this service a special class of officials were appointed, who were under the supervision of the Minister of War. At the stations, the majority of which were located on the principal roads, all the necessaries for expedition, such as horses, camels, wagons, boats, &c., were held in readiness.

“The service was divided into two classes. By the means of the first Imperial despatches and by the second passengers and baggage, as well as war material, were Forwarded. This Imperid Post is at present administered by the Postmaster-General, whose office is in Peking. The branches are restricted to the provincial capitals, and Vice-Post.masters are in charge. These officials are selected exclusively out of the upper military class. The Imperial post was to forward only imperial edicts, regulations, and similar official writings, however, in reality, the messengers also carry the private correspondence of the upper classes. The carriers are especially selected and enjoy a number of privileges, as, for instance, the right to live at hotels and obtain food for their horses free of charge.

“The second division is known as ‘General Postal Service (Yuting); it extends over all of China. The main office is in Peking, and in every Chinese city that is walled in there is a branch. The Taotais, or District Governors, are generally the Postmasters of their respective districts. They name their subordinates who act as local postmasters. The latter again control and are responsible for the carriers and messengers. Each one of these must forward the mail from his station to those points which are nearest to his centre. The average distance between these does not exceed 100 li. (about 40 English miles). At every station there is a man who keeps accounts of all letters received and forwarded. All post office buildings are the property of the government.

“Almost all official documents, which are to be forwarded, bear a superscription which states how quickly they are to be carried. Ordinary documents are marked 200 li. (about 80 miles) per day; those which are to be especially expedited are expected to travel 400 li., and those which are in great haste, as much as 800 li per day. The messengermust traverse this distance, no matter what the state of the weather may be, otherwise he is subject to punishment. The best time which has ever been made in China is 280 German miles (nearly 1,400 miles) in four days, or almost 14 miles per hour. This occurred in the year 1851 in the Taiping Rebellion. The expense of this postal service is borne by the provincial authorities.

“As perfect as the Imperial postal system of China may have been, even in former centuries, it was never used to any extent by the commercial or private interests. Even had they been permitted to send letters or packets by the means of this service, it is still doubtful if they would have availed themselves of the privilege, as the officials would have been suspected of tampering with private letters. In consequence, independent postal agencies were established in the cities and market towns for the convenience of bankers, merchants, and private individuals, which undertook the forwarding of letters and packets. In the large cities there are generally several of these private enterprises, and these produce considerable competition. As a result, it occurs more frequently than anywhere in the world, that postal officials collect mail matter from the houses of customers instead of the latter sending sending letters and packets to the office itself.

“These private postal enterprises entrust the mail matter either to native boats which travel regularly between the different cities, or to letter carriers, the majority of whom travel on foot, although occasionally they go on horseback. Every one of the postal boats referred to has a special man on board, who is entrusted with the reception and delivery, as well as the care, of the letters in the mail. All letters are registered at the office of receipt, the contents are insured up to their full value, and great liberality is shown in the matter of weight. The postage need not necessarily be paid in advance, but as a wile the writer pays about 30 per cent. of it, the remainder being paid by the recipient. These postal agencies frequently carry running accounts with their customers, which are settled monthly. If the writer is particular to have a letter delivered rapidly and safely. he writes on the envelope a promise of payment of a liberal siim in copper coin on the delivery of the letter.

“The transmission of mail matter through letter carriers is also rapid and safe. On the average, these men traverse a geographical mile (four and three fifths English miles) per hour. As soon as they reach their destination, that is the next station to which their letters are addressed, they immediately hand the mail to another man, who, without regard to the condition of the weather, must immediately start on his way, and having arrived at the next station, hand it over to a third messenger, which process is repeated until the final destination is reached. As the country, through which the carriers walk, is frequently a mere waste and but thinly inhabited, they are exposed to the attacks of robbers. For protection against these attacks they are always armed.

“In regard to the rates, they are not fixed, although, in general, fixed rates are made to regular customer’s, while occasional correspondents must pay considerably more. For short distances. the rates are lower than in Germany; for longer distance, say beyond a radius of 50 miles, they are naturally high, as the dispatches must be transferred so many times.

“This private postal system answers the requirements pretty well. Letters and packets are delivered just as safely, even if a little less rapidly, than they are with us. Large sums of money are also sent by this means. The money, in case it is sent by boat, is weighed by the captain of the vessel, who makes out a receipt and, for a small percentage, he guarantees to pay the money to the party addressed. Thefts are of rare occurrence.

“In the Spring of 1893, Sir Robert Hart, the chief inspector of Chinese maritime customs, addressed a letter to the Foreign Office in Peking in regard to the institution of a postal system in China after the pattern of similar institutions existing in Europe. This memorial was also sanctioned by the throne. In accordance with the proposed scheme, every capital or province was to be endowed with a nonresident Director of Posts, and every capital of a province with a non-resident subaltern postal official. Their assistants were to be chosen from the Chinese population, but it was to be required that they be familiar with the English language. In the country towns, as well as in the cities of the second and third rank, the post office was to be administered by Chinese. This scheme referred only to the nontreaty ports and the interior of the country. In the treaty ports the postal administration was to be administered in connection with the custom house. It was intended to retain the existing carrier service, but the private postal agencies were to be abolished, while retaining, so far as possible, in the new administration, the people employed in these private agencies.

“After three years, this project has finally ripened. Sir Robert Hart has been appointed General Postal Director, and, according to all appearances, the new service should be in operation in a few weeks. The Chinese newspaper Schenpao publishes the rules and regulations promulgated by Sir Robert Hart for the new Imperial post. It is stated therein that these regulations are intended only to cover the general outlines of the postal service, and that more minute regulations will follow later on.

“The customs post offices in the different treaty ports shall in future be designated as Imperial Post Offices. The places at which such post offices exist shall be considered as belonging to the Universal Postal Union. The remainder are not as yet included therein.

“The management of the Imperial Post Offices in the sea-ports shall be under the charge of the customs commissioners, who shall co-operate with the Chinese customs superintendents.

“The existing postal service in Peking, which is under the General Customs Inspection, shall be raised to the dignity of the Chief Imperial Post Office It shall have control over the different Imperial Post Offices inthe sea-ports, and receives its authority from the Tsungli Yamen” (Council of State).

“As the post office in Shanghai will be the most important office of transit, special officials shall be appointed for it, but they shall also be subject to the authority of the customs commissary and customs superintendent.

“The director of the Bureau of Statistics in Shanghai shall have general supervision over the postal service. All reports of postmasters, to the general inspector of customs, shall pass through his hands.

“Later on, branch postal establishments, with special employees, shall be established in places adjacent to the treaty ports, like Taku, and Tongku near Tientsin, also at railroad and telegraph stations, in Wysung near Shanghai, Tschenhai near Ningpo, Pagoda Anchorage near Futschau, Whangpo near Canton, Wuhsüeh near Kiukiang, Aking and Tatung near Wuhu, Nanking near Tschingkiang, &c.

Method of Transmission
“The post office transmits letters, postal cards, samples and printed matter. The transmission of single articles will be either in large mail bags or separately. In shipments in transit, the mail bags will not be opened, and mail matter for the immediate neighbourhood will be unpacked and distributed either piece by piece or placed into a new bag for further transmission.

“Each mail sack will be accompanied by an exact description of its contents. The receiving post office, in the first instance, shall make out a receipt for the matter to be forwarded, after it has convinced itself that the mail matter on the waybill has actually been delivered to it.

“From one seaport to another transmission of the mail will be by steamer, and in the inland by the means of Chinese private offices, with which special arrangements will have to be made, and notice of which is to be given to the public.

“The rate of postage is different, according to whether letters go from seaport to seaport, into the inland, or to foreign countries. For foreign letters it shall be regulated by Art. 5 and 6 of the Universal Postal Union agreement. If a foreign letter is to be sent through an Imperial post office into the inland, to a place whiph is not included in the Universal Postal Union, the receiver has to pay the inland postage in addition. Likewise, for letters from an inland station to foreign countries, the sender has to prepay inland postage. The amount of this inland postage is to be determined and collected by the private post office establishments.

“For transmission from one treaty port to another the following scale shall apply :–

Post cards 1 c.
Letters up to 1/4 Chinese oz. (Tael) 2 c.
Letters up to 1/2 oz 4 c.
Letters up to 1 oz 8 c.
and upwards on the same scale.
Newspapers, Chinese 1 c.
European 2 c.
Samples and Printed Matter, per 2 oz 2 c.
“For registered letters an additional impost is collected. A receipt is to be given therefor. For foreign letters, the regulations contained in Art. 5-7 of the Universal Postal Union agreement are to govern. For a return receipt in addition to the cost of registration, double the impost is to be paid.

“All private postal establishments are compelled to inform the nearest post office of their rates, in order that they may be made public.

“For the prepayment of foreign letters, and letters addressed to treaty ports, special stamps shall be printed, which are to be pasted on the letters. These stamps shall be sold at the post offices, and at such stores as may be designated by them. Counterfeiting of these stamps will be punished in the same way as the counterfeiting of bank notes.

Shipments of Money
“The post office undertakes also the transmission of money from one Postal Union office to another, but only in sums not exceeding 100 Taels. The sender receives a receipt for his shipment.

Transmission of Packets
“Later on, as soon as the postal service has been further developed, it will also, as in Europe, transmit packets. The regulations governing the weight of the packets, their bulk, and the charges will be determined later on.

Post Offices and Private Postal Establishments
“If a private postal establishment desires to forward letters by steamer, via an open port, it must send them in a closed bag to the Imperial Post Office in that port, which shall attend to the transmission, but in no case shall they be sent direct to the steamer. For this service it has to pay the regular rates of postage for intermediate ports. The Imperial Post Office is to receive a receipt from the private postal establishment to which the mail bag is addressed.

“If private postal establishments desire to be admitted into the Universal Postal Union, they will have to be registered in an Imperial Post Office, and will have to obtain a certificate, which, however, will be issued free of charge. If, later on, they desire to sever their connection with the Union, the certificate must be returned for cancellation.

“Post Office officials, who open letters or packets and violate the secrecy of the mails, shall not only be disciplined, but shall be punished according to the laws of their respective states.

“Only registration offices are permitted to forward letters within the circuit of the Imperial Post Office. Whoever forwards letters unauthorized shall be subjected to a punishment of 60 Taels for every piece of mail matter so forwarded.

“Steamship companies, captains, sailors, and passengers on steamers plying between the treaty ports shall be prohibited from carrying letters which should properly be carried by the post. Every infringment of this law shall be punished by a fine of 500 Taels. Open private papers, letters of recommendation, business and ships letters are not included under this head.

“All post offices are to furnish a monthly account of receipts and disbursements to the director of the Bureau of Statistics in Shanghai, who, in turn, shall periodically send tabulated accounts to the General Inspector of Customs, who shall present them to the Tsungli Yamen.

“All in and outgoing mail matter is to be entered in the register. The blanks therefore are to be patterned according to Art. 4 and 17, and to Paragraphs 23 and 24 of the special regulations.

Overland Post in Winter
“On account of the freezing over of the Rivers in Northern China, the mail shall, in Winter, be forwarded overland from Tschingkiang to Tschifu, Tientsin, Peking and Niutschuang. The post offices concerned in this service shall publish all further regulations in regard to it.

Letters from and to Foreign Countries
“The transmission of letters to a country belonging to the Universal Postal Union, after China shall have entered the Union, shall be in accordance with its rules.

“Letters from foreign countries must be delivered direct to the addressee by an Imperial Post Office; they shall not be permitted to use any intermediate service. Only, in case such letters are sent via Shanghai, to a place not included in the Postal Union, they will have to be sent by the Shanghai Post Office to a registered private postal establishment for further transmission. The latter shall collect the inland postage from the recipient in accordance with its own schedule rates.

“If an Imperial Post Office has no direct steam connection, it shall send the letters for further transmission to a post office with such connection. The charges for such service shall be in accordance with the rates of the Postal Union.”

1878. Three values. Design: A hideous representation of a dragon, the fabled enemy of mankind. If the original, which is said to have watched the Garden of the Hesperides, bore any personal resemblance to the creature on the first stamps of China, it is no wonder that it taxed the strength of Hercules in its destruction. The translation of the Chinese characters on the stamps is as follows: At the top “Ta Ching” (China); to the right, “Yu Chêng Chu” (Post Office), and value to the left. These stamps were printed at Shanghai on unwatermarked paper and perforated. The values were expressed in candarins. 100 candarins = 1 tael = 6s. 2d. in our money. The word “ China “ at the top and “6 candarins” at the foot, in ordinary print, are added for the information of the “foreign devil.”

As already intimated I do not agree in dividing the papers into thick and thin as if they were different printings. It is true they are so divided in Gibbons Catalogue, the thin being placed first and the thick last, whereas the evidence available goes to show that the later printings were all on thin paper, whilst in the earlier printings they. were most probably mixed.

Mr. Mencarini gives the numbers printed of this first series as follows :-

1 cand., green 206,486
3 cand., red 558,768
5 cand., orange 239,610

No wmk. Perf.
Unused. Used.
s. d. s. d.
l cand., green 5 0 5 0
3 cand., red 2 0 2 0
5 cand., orange 3 6 1 6
Range of Catalogue Prices: unused
The prices of this series were doubled between 1897 and 1900, but since then there has been very little improvenlent in prices of the 3 c. and 5 c., but the 1 c., however, shows a considerable rise, in fact this value has risen steadily from 8d. in 1897 to 5s. in 1908. The supplies are not large and are steadily being absorbed so that any material increase in the demand must inevitably result in a stiffening of prices. As a first issue the stamps are decidedly low priced, but it mnst be remembered that they had a fairly long life from 1878 to 1885, and that, as they are all low priced stamps, they were probably stocked in large numbers by dealers. A very scarce shade of the 3 c. is a bright vermilion, the common shade being a dull brown red.

1896 1899 1902 1905 1908
1c. 0 8 0 8 2 6 3 0 5 0
3c. 0 9 0 9 2 6 2 0 2 0
5c. 1 0 1 0 3 6 3 0 3 0
1885. Three values. Design Similar to the preceding, but in a reduced size. Printed at Shanghai on paper watermarked with a sign in Chinese geomancy called yin-yang, representing the male and female principles in nature. The stamps of this issue yield many pronounced shades for the specialist. They were printed in sheets of 40 stamps, in two panes of 20 (five rows of four) side by side

The numbers printed were as follows : –
1 cand., green 508,667
3 cand., mauve 850,711
5 cand., bistre 348,161

Wmk. Yin-yang. Perf
Unused. Used.
s. d. s. d.
l cand., green 0 2 0 3
3 ,, mauve 0 6 0 3
5 ,, bistre 0 6 0 9
Range of Catalogue Prices: unused.
Large stocks of this issue are still available and are likely to remain so for many years to come. There is, therefore, no need to set out any range of prices.

1894. Nine values. Designs: All different. The inscriptions remained the same, except that the word “Kingdom” was added to the inscription in the right-hand border, thus making the words “Great Pure Kingdom.” Mr. Mencarini tell us that these stamps were issued in honour of the Empress-Dowager’s sixtieth birthday. The first supplies, he says, were printed in Japan, and later supplies at Shanghai, but he can find no record which will enable us to distinguish the Japanese from the Chinese printings. Each value yields very distinct shades, which probably may some day afford the specialist a clue to the separation of the Japanese from the Chinese printings. The stamps were watermarked as before and perforated.

A curious story is connected with the history of the designing of this series. It seems that Mr. R. A. de Villard, an artist resident in China at the time, was conlmissioned to prepare a series of designs for the new Imperial Post. He was a high official in the Chinese Imperial Customs. His drawings were prepared, but were fated to be rejected, for, in common parlance, Mr. de Villard, despite his acquaintance with Chinese ways, had innocently put his foot into it. In several of the designs he had abbreviated the inscription to “Imp. Chin. Post,” which was not allowed. Consequently, a fresh series of drawings had to be made. In submitting his new drawings, Mr. de Villard still more seriously put his foot into it by colouring the 20c. in Imperial purple, innocently thinking that would, of course, be a popular and most acceptable colour. Evidently he was ignorant of the fact that the use of this colour is absolutely forbidden in China, except by members of the Imperial family. There was a big row, and no doubt for a time it was probably a question whether the poor artist would be decapitated or otherwise disposed of. However, he made yet another series of designs, and steered clear of the Imperial purple, but whether it be a coincidence or otherwise, it is a fact that Mr. de Villard was shortly afterwards ordered off on a surveying expedition through Tibet, with orders to make his way thence to India, returning to China by sea from Calcutta. Such a journey was practically a sentence of death, and as such Mr. de Villard seems to have regarded it, for he wrote his friend Mr. Whitfield King, of Ipswich, from Chunking, on his way to Tibet, stating that in all probability that would be the last letter he would have from him, and he has not since been heard of.

The numbers printed were as follows :–
1 cand., red 100,077
2 “ green 78,404
3 “ yellow 188,494
4 “ rose 44,689
5 “ yellow 32,779
6 “ brown 54,247
9 “ green 56,182
12 “ orange 33,509
24 “ red 34,035

Wmk. Yin-yang. Perf.
Unused. Used
s. d. s. d.
1 cand., vermilion 0 3
2 “ green 0 9
3 “ yellow 0 4 0 6
4 “ rose 1 0 1 0
5 “ orange 0 9 1 0
6 “ brown 1 0 1 0
9 “ green 1 0 1 0
12 “ orange 2 6 3 0
24 “ carmine 7 6
Variety: tête bêche.
9 “ green 10 0
1896. Provisionals. Mr. Mencarini explains the issue of these provisionals as follows: “By Imperial Edict the Imperial Chinese Post Office was recognized (18th December, 1896), and the post office currency was thereupon changed from candarins (taels) to cents (dollars). Whilst regular stamps were being prepared, provisionals were issued, by surcharging in black with ordinary printing types the 1885 and 1894 stamps in stock.” The surcharging was done by several printing offices, hence differences in type noted by specialists.

1897. Issue of 1894 surcharged in black.
(1) Small figures (January).
Surcharge 17 to 17½ mm. high.
Unused. Used.
s. d. s. d.
½ c. on 3 c., orange 0 2 0 3
½ c. on 3 c., orange-yellow 0 3 0 3
½ c. on 3 c., ochre 0 3 – –
1 c. on 1 c., vermilion 0 9 0 6
2 c. on 2 c., green 0 5 0 3
4 c. on 4 c., rose 0 6 0 6
5 c. on 5 c., orange 0 6 0 6
5 c. on 5c., yellow – – – –
8 c. on 6 c., brown 0 6 0 6
8 c. on 6 c., red-brown 1 0 1 0
10 c. on 6 c., brown 2 0 2 0
10 c. on 6 c., red-brown 2 0 – –
10 c. on 9 c., green 5 0 3 6
10 c. on 12 c., orange 3 6 3 6
30 c. on 24 c., carmine 4 6 4 6
Varieties (i.) “2” and fraction bar of “½“ omitted.
l c.on 3 c., orange – – – –
(ii.) Surcharge inverted.
1 c. on 1 c., vermilion – – – –
(iii. ) Double Surcharge.
½ c. on 3 c., orange – – – –
2 c. on 2 c., green 20 0 – –
4 c. on 4 c., rose – – – –
10 c. on 9 c., green 30 0 – –
(2) Larger figures (February)
(a) Surcharge 17 to 17½ mm. high.
½ c. on 3 c., yellow 0 1 0 2
½ c. on 3 c., orange – – – –
1 c. on 1 c., vermilion 0 2 0 3
2 c. on 2 c., yellow-green 0 3 0 2
2 c. on 2 c., deep green 5 0 – –
4 c. on 4 c., rose 0 6 0 8
5 c. on 5 c., orange 5 0 – –
5 c. on 5 c., yellow 1 0 1 0
8 c. on 6 c., brown – – – –
8 c. on 6 c., red-brown 1 6 2 0
10 c. on 9 c., green 1 6 2 0
10 c. on 9 c., emerald 2 0 2 6
10 c. on 12 c., orange-yellow 2 0 1 6
30 c. on 24 c., carmine 5 0 5 0
Variety. “cen” for “cent.”
½ c. on 3 c., pale yellow – – 25 0
(b) Surcharge 16 to 16½ mm. high.
Figure of value closer to Chinese characters.
½ c. on 3 c., orange-yellow 0 1 0 6
½ c. on 3 c., pale yellow 0 3 0 6
1 c. on 1 c., vermilion 0 2 0 3
2 c. on 2 c., green 0 6 0 2
4 c.on 4 c.,rose 1 0 1 3
5 c.on 5 c.,orange 12 6 5 0
5 c. on 5 c., yellow 4 0 5 0
8 c. on 6 c., brown 50 0 – –
10 c. on 9 c., green 10 0 3 6
10 c. on 9 c., pale green 10 0 – –
10 c. on 12 c., orange 7 6 4 0
10 c. on 12 c., brown-orange 10 0 – –
30 c. on 24 c., carmine – – – –
Surcharge inverted.
½ c. on 3 c., pale yellow – – – –
2 c. on 2 c., green 25 0 – –
4 c. on 4 c., rose 12 0 – –
10 c. on 9 c., green 10 0 – –
New plate with figures “2“ in lower corners instead of “2”
2 c. on 2 c., green 0 9 0 9
Issue of 1885 surcharged in black.
(1) Small figures (February). Surcharge 17 mm. high.
1 c. on 1 c., green 0 4 0 6
1 c. on 1 c., pale green – 2 0 –
2 c. on 3 c., pale mauve 0 6 0 6
5 c. on 5 c., grey-bistre 0 6 0 9
(2) Large figures as Types 14 and 15 (May).
(a) Surcharge 16½ mm.high.
1 c. on 1 c., green 8 0 10 0
(b) Surcharge 15½ mm. high.
2 c. on 3 c., mauve 8 0 10 0
5 c. on 5 c., olive yellow 8 0 10 0
Revenue stamp surcharged in black.
1 c. on 3 c., red 0 2 0 2
1 c. on 3 c., red-brown 0 3 – –
2 c. on 3 c., red 0 4 0 6
2 c. on 3 c., red 0 3 0 2
4 c. on 3 c., “ 0 4 0 6
4 c. on 3 c., “ 60 0 – –
$1 on 3 c., red 7 6 7 6
$1 on 3 c., “ £10 – – –
$5 on 3 c., “ 100 0 – –
Surcharge inverted.
2 c. on 3 c., red 15 0 – –
$5 on 3 c., “ – – – –
1897. Twelve values. Designs: Various. The ½ c. to 10 c. were of the dragon type; the 20 c., 30 c., and 50 c. had a carp as the central design; and the dollar values a wild goose on the wing. The appearance of the goose on a postage stamp is, from the Chinese point of view, very appropriate, for, according to an ancient legend, one of the emperors of China sent a special ambassador to the sovereign of a country situated on the northern borders of the Celestial Empire. Instead of treating this messenger with the respect to which his ambassadorial office entitled him, the northern king made him a prisoner and placed him into slavery, and he had to work as a cattle-minder. One day, presumably when tending his cattle, he caught a wild goose, and remembering that these birds regularly migrated north and south, he attached a letter to it addressed to his emperor and set the bird at liberty. The Chinese monarch was out shooting one day and shot a goose, and the story goes that this was the goose, and so the letter fell direct into the emperor’s hands. Of course, the ambassador was rescued and his captor was severely punished for his treachery. From this fable comes the common expression the Chinese have for the mails – hung pien, which may be interpreted as “the convenience of the wild goose.”

The stamps were printed in Japan from designs proposed by the Customs Statistical Department in Shanghai. The values were in cents and dollars, and the unsold remainders of provisional stamps were withdrawn and superseded by this new issue? The three highest values were printed in two colours.

The rarity of this issue, from the specialist’s point of view, is the 50 cents printed in error in the intense dark green of the 10 c., instead of in its own pale yellow green. The stamps were printed on paper watermarked as before with the yin-yang sign and perforated. For the shade hunter they are exceptionally interesting, for the ½ c., 4 c., and 10 c. yield very distinct shades. Some of the high values are getting very scarce.

The numbers printed of this issue were as follows :
½ cent. claret 481,200
1 “ yellow 433,200
2 cents, orange 1,248,000
4 “ brown 912,000
5 “ rose 360,000
10 “ green 360,000
20 “ brown-lake 168,000
30 “ carmine 168,000
50 “ yellow-green 360,000
$1, carmine and rose 51,600
$2, orange and yellow 12,930
$5, yellow-green and rose 7,200

Wmk. Yin-yang. Perf.

Unused. Used.
s. d. s. d.
½ c., claret 0 1 0 1
1 c., yellow 0 2 0 2
2 c., deep orange 0 2 0 1
4 c., brown 0 4 0 1
5c., rose 0 4 0 3
10 c., dark green 0 6 0 2
30 c., carmine 3 0 3 0
50 c., yellow-green 5 0 3 6
$1, carmine and rose 10 0 10 0
$2, orange and yellow 20 0 20 0
$5, yellow-green and rose 80 0 – –

1898-1904. Twelve values. Designs: Similar to preceding issue, but re-engraved, with modifications in every value, by Messrs. Waterlow & Sons, London, and printed by them. The ½ c., 2 c., 4 c., 5 c., and 10 c. were all of the same dragon design without variations in the framework as in the Japanese issue; and the 20 c., 30 c., and 50 c. were of the same design with a carp as the central figure; the dollar values were of the “ wild goose” design. The first supplies were all printed by Messrs. Waterlow & Sons on paper watermarked with the yin-yang, a stock of watermarked paper, sufficient to thirteen million stamps, being forwarded to them, and after the exhaustion of that supply the stamps were to be printed on plain, unwatermarked paper. As the watermarks are most indistinct, it was some time before it was discovered that they had been printed on watermarked paper-indeed, in the Gibbons Catalogue of 1904 they are listed as “no wmk.”

Gibbons’ Catalogue has the following note concerning the watermarked paper:– ”On the 26th May, 1899, the stock of watermarked paper, 110 reams, enough to print about 13,000,000 stamps, was forwarded to Messrs. Waterlow & Sons to print on without regard to the stamps fitting the watermark, after the exhaustion of which paper the stamps were to be printed on plain paper. The two classes of stamps are difficult to separate, the watermark not showing very clearly, but the plain paper is slightly thicker and far more opaque.” In this case like many others the collector will do well to look out for copies that show the watermark clearly, for.some do and others do not.

Wmk. Yin-yang.
Perf. 14 to 16.
Unused. Used
s. d. s. d.
½ cent, brown 0 2 0 1
1 “ ochre-buff 0 2 0 2
2 “ cents, crimson 0 3 0 1
4 “ chestnut 0 3 0 1
5 “ pale red 0 9 0 1
10 “ deep green 0 6 0 2
20 “ brown lake 1 0 0 3
30 “ rose-red 1 3 1 0
50 “ green 2 0 0 9
$1, carmine and salmon 4 0 2 0
$2, yellow 7 6 5 0
$5, green and salmon 17 6 10 0
Error : 50 c. in colour of 10 c.
Unused. Used.
s. d. s. d.
50 c., deep green 30 0 – –
Range of Catalogue Prices: unused.
The higher values of these Japanese printed stamps have risen considerably in value, and there is no doubt that they are likely to be good stamps. The $3 values are very scarce, and especially the $5. The five ranges of shades throughout the lower values naturally attract the specialist.

1900 1903 1906 1908
$1 4 0 7 6 10 0 10 0
$2 10 0 20 0 20 0 20 0
$5 30 0 80 0 80 0 80 0
No wmk. Perf. 14 to 16.
Unused. Used.
s. d. s. d.
½ c., brown 0 1 0 1
lc., buff 0 1 0 1
2c., crirnson 0 1 0 1
4 c., chestnut – – 0 4
5 c., salmon 0 6 0 2
5 c., orange-yellow 0 3 0 1
10 c., green – – 0 3
20 c., brown lake – – – –
30 c., rose red – – – –
50 c., green – – – –
$1 carmine and salmon – – – –
$2 carmine and yellow – – – –
$5 green and salmon – – – –
1905. One value. Design unchanged, but colour altered from salmon to purple.

No wmk. Perf. 14 to 16.

5 c., purple – – 0 1
1907. One value. Design: same as the 20 c. of the previous issue. A new value introduced for the purpose of prepaying foreign letters weighing between 20 and 40 grammes.

No wmk. Perf. 14 to 16.

16 c., olive green – – – –
Most collectors now-a-days want to know how a country stands from the investment point of view. Is it worth putting money into? is a very general question. Some countries are full of promise for investment, whilst others are purely and almost solely philatelic. China is what I should term an almost purely philatelic country. In the days to come it may be opened out by the specialist into an investment country, but at present it cannot be considered to be ripe very much in that direction. It is full of philatelic interest from its first issue to its last, in fact, I know of few countries so interesting from the purely philatelic standpoint. Its stamps are decidedly cheap from start to finish, and they are free from the speculative and commemorative taint. They are rich in varieties of shades and minor differences on which I have not touched in these articles for fear of wearying my readers. Were I writing for specialists I might have extended my pages to double the number for the stamps of China have been favourites of mine for many a year, and I strongly recommend them to those collectors who want a fine country to specialise that will not require much outlay of money; but will yield them a rich philatelic harvest, and open up interesting points and afford plenty of scope for further research. The first issue offers abundant room for further research.

Books and articles relating to the stamps of China are not plentiful. The most valuable is a brochure published by Mr. J. Mencarini, of the Imperial Maritime Customs Service, Shanghai, in 1906. It may be taken as a semi-official summary of the various issues with the numbers printed of each value. No price is marked on it, and as it has been a labour of love on the art of a specialist copies may probably be had by writing to Mr. Mencarini.

Mr. M. Croucher contributed a short general article on the Chinese Imperial Customs Post to the Monthly Journal, Vol. 12, p. 172.

Mr. B. W. H. Poole wrote up the differences which he found in the first issue for the Monthly Journal, Vol. 16, p. 65, showing that the designs were not quite identical for all three values.

In the Philatelic Record, Vol. 19, p. 101, will be found an official postal notice concerning rates of postage, stamps, deliveries, &c., and on p. 296 of the same vol. is a reprint of a summary of the issues of China, from Le Timbre Post.

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