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Rarest Chinese stamp to be auctioned by Interasia Auctions this weekend
1897 Red Revenue Small One Dollar (Lot 530 with a presale estimate of HK$6,500,000-HK$8,000,000).

HONG KONG.- Preeminent China, Hong Kong and Asian stamp auctioneer Interasia Auctions Ltd will be auctioning the rarest regularly-issued stamp of China – the 1897 Red Revenue Small One Dollar – at its mammoth Chinese and Asian stamp auction at the Excelsior Hotel in Hong Kong on Saturday June 29 – Monday July 1, 2013. The 2,800 lot, three-day stamp auction has a pre-sale estimate in excess of HK$50,000,000 (over US$6,400,000) and promises to be the largest stamp auction in Hong Kong this year (in total dollar terms) and likewise the largest auction of Chinese stamps anywhere in the world this year to date.

Auction Highlights
The undisputed star of this major stamp auction is the China 1897 Red Revenue Small One Dollar (Lot 530 with a presale estimate of HK$6,500,000-HK$8,000,000). Only 32 examples are recorded of this iconic stamp, which is acknowledged as the rarest regularly issued stamp of China and ranks among the world’s great stamp rarities. The Red Revenue series, of which the Small One Dollar is a part, was adopted as a provisional measure, as the set of stamps to reflect China’s new currency that was to be issued was delayed at their Japanese printer. Consequently, an unissued red revenue stamp was overprinted with various denominations as a stop gap measure. The Red Revenues are also considered by many to be the true first national issues of China, as the previous China stamps listed in the standard catalogues were issued by the foreigner-dominated Maritime Customs Department for their limited postal system. The Red Revenues were issued by the Qing Government itself for the national postal system that it was instituting. Their bright red color – a symbol of luck and good fortune in Chinese culture – no doubt adds to the series’ appeal. The Chinese characters in the Small One Dollar’s overprint were however considered too small, so that a second one dollar Red Revenue stamp with larger characters was subsequently issued, accounting for the limited issuance of this major world rarity.

The auction also showcases a number of other important rarities of both the Qing Dynasty and the Republic (1911-49) periods of China, as well as important postal history (the study of mailed envelopes and letters and postal arrangements). Two major postal history collections trace the development of the Qing Dynasty 19th Century Chinese postal system from the issuance of China’s first stamps in 1878 and include numerous rare and choice envelopes, such as the lovely 1880 envelope from Great Britain to China bearing both Great Britain stamps and a China 3 candarin Large Dragon to pay the Chinese internal postage (Lot 86, presale estimate HK$700,000-HK$900,000). The extensive section of the iconic 1897 Red Revenues also include an unused $5 (Lot 618, presale estimate HK$750,000-HK$900,000) and a rare Large Figures 2c mint pane of 25 with the sheet number in the margin (Lot 559, presale estimate HK$700,000-HK$900,000). A mint 1898 $5 imperforate between pair – one of only six recorded – highlights the popular Coiling Dragons (Lot 660, presale estimate HK$200,000-HK$250,000).

The large Republic-period offering, which is replete with many essays and proofs as well as scarce stamps, includes two major rarities: the 1914-19 $2 Hall of Classics inverted center (Lot 817, presale estimate HK$850,000-HK$1,000,000) and the 1923 2c on 3c inverted surcharge (Lot 851, presale estimate HK$1,000,000-HK$1,200,000), representing two of the Four Treasures of the Republic – the rarest Chinese stamps of this period.

The substantial People’s Republic section includes two complete sheets of the ever-popular 1980 Year of the Monkey (Lots 2374 and 2375, presale estimates HK$1,000,000-HK$1,200,000 and HK$850,000-HK$1,000,000 respectively), an unused set of the 1958 Student Union Congress with inscription errors (Lot 2061, presale estimate HK$1,200,000-HK$1,500,000), as well as strong Cultural Revolution, including complete sheets of the 1967 Chairman Mao’s Thoughts red and gold frame strips (Lot 2177, presale estimate HK$350,000-HK$450,000).

The auction concludes with a fine offering of Hong Kong stamps and postal history, highlighted by a select group of Queen Victoria multiples in outstanding condition, which is the nicest such offering to come on the market since the legendary Richard Chan collection in 2003 / 2004, as well as other Asian countries, including Japan, Korea, Macau, the Philippines, and Thailand.

The exponential growth in Chinese stamp collecting has paralleled the economic growth of Mainland China and its emergence as an economic superpower, with stamp collecting holding a place both as a sophisticated and fashionable hobby, as well as a store of value and alternative investment.

“Philately has a special place in Chinese culture, with rare stamps regarded as important cultural icons and treasures, just like art, and thus fiercely competed over,“ said Dr Jeffrey Schneider, Director of Interasia Auctions and an international expert in Chinese and Asian philately.

“We have watched the emergence of major serious collectors in Mainland China in recent years, as well as growing enthusiasm from ethnic Chinese abroad and non-Chinese alike, making Chinese stamps some of the most popular stamps in the world and fostering steady increases in the values for classic Chinese stamps in recent years. While the Chinese art market has seen significant corrections, classic Chinese stamps have shown a strong resilience, with these trends barely affecting their values. The People’s Republic stamps – which had seen meteoric price rises and saw a substantial correction in late 2011 – are showing a strengthening market and still count increases in value of 200% or more over the last decade, notwithstanding the market correction.”

“We are very pleased to be part of these exciting markets and to share our expertise and passion, bringing extensive offerings of the best and rarest Chinese and Asian stamps to avid collectors around the World,” commented Dr Schneider.

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