People's Republic of China (PRC)
Everybody's been talking about it - China's stamp boom. Demand for most stamps issues of this country especially the issues of the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, shows no sign of abating any time soon. Recent auctions realisations around the globe seem to highlight this huge demand.
According to Mike Hall, the Chief executive of Stanley Gibbons group, within 4½ years from Nov 2006 to April 2011, the catalogue values of high profile China stamps grew on average of 200%. Some stamps grew at a more astounding annual rate, for example the 1962 Mei Lan-fang set grew by about 790% within the last 4½ years (or on average of 175% annually)! Fah Onn Liau wrote a nice article on the growth of North Borneo stamps especially for the high values stamps, and this seems to apply to many other Asian stamps in general, but North Borneo stamps' growth is a long way to go compared to the mighty Chinese stamps.
Imperforated Mei Lan-Fang stamps issue (1962) - Finished US$1,500 in ebay May 2012.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Schneider, founder of Interasia auctionhouse, demand for Chinese stamps has exploded in the last 20 years since he started his first auction. "It's such a booming market because you have the influence of China, and an enormous Chinese diaspora too, and they tend to collect Chinese stamps whether they're living in the U.S., Scandinavia or South America," he says. And of course in addition to the 20 million strong collectors in China, westerners also collect stamps from this country. According to Louis Mangin, owner of auctionhouse Zurich Asia, half of the participants in Chinese stamps auction come from the mainland China and another half are from outside China.
In March 2011, Interasia auction shaterred the world record with the largest ever stamp auction in Hong Kong with a total reaslisation of almost HK$100,000,000. Dr. Scheiner was quoted as saying "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. However, we are seeing a level of interest and excitement in People's Republic stamps that is absolutely breathtaking, with many increasing 200 per cent or more in value in the past two or three years in a white-hot market."
Red-Hot Stamps Issues
Strip of 5, 1967 issue used, Thoughts of mao Tse-Tung, sold US$1,300 ebay May 2012.
On 1 March 1955, a currency revaluation took place, marking a new era in Chinese philately. The cultural revolution was launched on 16 May 1966 by Mao Tse-Tung. It was aimed at getting rid of bourgeois elements from the society and to return to capitalism. This explains why almost all issues within this period are very scarce as stamp collecting was viewed as a burgeois activity. Even postally used examples of stamps within this period are difficult to obtain. Those with a deep pocket, the 1967-68 issue on Mao's poems is worth looking for especially in unmounted mint. Another issues to look for are the 1967 Labour day, Mao's 'Talks on Literature and Art' (1967) and Directives of Chairman Mao (1968).
The legendary stamp of 1968 issue 'The entire nation is red' is probably impossible to acquire with its current market value unless you're one of those Forbes magazine highlights. Alternatively you may start playing a jackpot now and pray that you win big bucks. This stamp is super scarce, being quickly withdrawn because Taiwan appears white instead of red.
Although the Cultural Revolution officially ended in 1969, its effects continued to be felt until mid 1970s, with stamp collecting still very much frowned upon. Difficult issues in this later period include Centanary of the paris commune (1971), Chinese Merchant shipping (1972), Giant Panda (1973) and Industrial products (1974) among others.
1980 year of Monkey (8f) Sold in ebay for US$1,275 in May 2012
Issues from 1978 to the early 1980s may be picked up more easily although not cheaply. Finally, another legendary China stamp is the 1980 Year of the monkey stamp. This is the penny black of China, or the inverted Jenny in USA. Every China collector reveres this particular stamp due to a combination of the design (monkey), colour (red) and value (8f) - all of which are considered to bring good luck. As everyone wants to own this stamp, the price keeps rising exponentially, so if you need this stamp in your collection, buy it sooner rather than later.