While early collectors were from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the international Chinese diaspora, some important Mainland Chinese collectors are today “repatriating” stamps, in the same way that others are bringing back Chinese artworks.
China’s first stamps, the “Large Dragons,” were printed in Shanghai in 1878 when the city was controlled by foreigners. The stamps were inscribed “China” in Latin letters and Chinese characters, and denominated in candareens, a unit of weight then used to describe a unit of imperial currency.
Stamps printed by the People’s Republic of China started with a four-stamp set in October 1949, depicting a lantern and the Gate of Heavenly Peace.
Today, the most coveted Chinese stamps of the period are those dating from the early years of the Cultural Revolution, which are somewhat pricier than the later Cultural Revolution issues.