Two sets of Chinese stamps said to be among the rarest and most expensive in the Chinese world are being displayed at the 2016 World Stamp Championship Exhibition (PHILATAIPEI), which opened in Taipei on Friday.
One of them is a block of four Qing Dynasty red revenue stamps overprinted with the small words of "one dollar" and used as postage stamps.
Once dubbed the "most expensive Chinese stamps in the Eastern Hemisphere," the block of four stamps was originally kept by stamp designer Robert Alexis de Villard and then his wife after his death in 1904.
The stamps, believed to be the only remaining block of four of their kind, are now owned by Shanghai stamp collector Ding Jingsong (???).
Ho Huei-ching (???), a stamp expert and former professor at National Taiwan University, said that after the stamps were printed, authorities thought the "one dollar" value printed on the stamp was too small to read, so they scrapped the original version and reprinted a new version with the words "one dollar" made bigger.
This means there was only a limited number of the original version of the stamp printed, making them more precious, Ho told CNA.
"Whoever owns this block of four stamps is considered the King of Stamps in China," he said, adding that the current estimated value of the stamps is NT$500 million (US$15.76 million).
The other precious item is a sheet of 25 unused wide margin large dragon stamps, the first set of official postage stamps issued by China.
Once called the "most expensive Chinese stamps in the Western Hemisphere," the stamps were first in the hands of an American collector before they were sold at Sotheby's Auction in London in 1991 to a Hong Kong philatelist at a price of Pound 374,000, Ho said.
In 2010, Ding bought the stamps from the Hong Kong philatelist.
The sheet is worth around NT$200 million (about Pound 5.1 million) now, Ho said.
Another head-turning exhibit was an airmail cover sent from Hankou in China to the United States in May 1949 with a total postage value of 78.75 million Gold Yuan.
At the time the envelope was sent, China was mired in a civil war between the Nationalists and Communists, and the value of the Gold Yuan, the Chinese currency at the time, was gutted by hyperinflation.
Ten stamps with a face value of 5 million Gold Yuan and 13 stamps with a face value of 2 million Gold Yuan were among the 53 stamps affixed to the envelope.
(1959 airmail cover with Hankou surcharged stamps)
"Stamps with a face value of between 2 million and 5 million Gold Yuan were extremely rare," said Chen Yu-an (???), president of the Chinese Taipei Philatelic Federation and vice president of the organizing committee of PHILATAIPEI.
Hankou was surrounded by Communist forces at the time, and the stamps were issued for only two weeks, he said.
"The stamps left a unique record for the civil war," said Chen, who now owns the precious envelope.
PHILATAIPEI will run until Oct. 26 at Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1, showcasing 2,450 philately items from exhibitors from 80 countries and areas.
Chunghwa Post Co., the nation's official postal service, is hosting this year's exhibition, which is being held in Taiwan for the first time.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel