Rare stamps on auction, seen as alternative investment
Interasia Auctions is holding the largest philatelic auction of the second half of 2012 in Hong Kong at The Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay from December 15-18. Hong Kong-based Interasia Auctions, the preeminent auctioneer worldwide for China, Hong Kong and Asian stamps and postal history, estimates the more than 3,800 lots will bring over HK$50 million (US$6.4 million) in what it noted as the largest auction of Chinese and Hong Kong stamps in fall 2012 globally.
Chinese stamp collecting has emerged not only as a sophisticated and fashionable hobby but as an alternative investment.
Jeffrey Schneider, director of Interasia Auctions and an international expert in Chinese and Asian philately, notes; “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. 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 the most popular stamps in the global philatelic industry. Along with this growth, we have seen a dramatic increase in value in Chinese stamps, with many PRC stamps, for example, showing an increase in value of 200% or more over the last decade, notwithstanding a market correction in late 2011. We are very pleased to be part of this exciting market and to share our expertise and bring the most extensive offerings of the best and rarest Chinese and Asian stamps to collectors around the world.”
Major rarities of classic China and PRC are highlights of Interasia’s auction. The extensive PRC offering, with almost 1,000 lots contained in a special catalogue, includes three of the immensely rare 1964 unissued Peking opera masks (with a combined presale estimate of HK$2.1 million-HK$2.6 million), the 1967 unissued 40th anniversary of the Jinggangshan revolutionary base – popularly known as “Blue Heaven” – the rarest stamp of the Cultural Revolution (presale estimate HK$3 million-HK$3.5 million), and the iconic 1968 “The whole country is red” in an exceedingly rare mint block of four showing the printer’s imprint which alone has a pre-sale estimate of HK$5.5 million-HK$6 million. This last stamp, which was withdrawn almost immediately after its issuance in November 1968, shows the island of Taiwan in white in contrast to the red-colored Mainland, and may have been withdrawn for this reason.
The Classic China offering includes a recently discovered small figures 2c black-green surcharge from the 1897 Red Revenues series – the most popular Classic Chinese stamp issue and only the third recorded example of this major rarity (presale estimate HK$1 million-HK$1.2 million) – as well as three of the “Four treasures of the Republic” (the most valuable stamps from the Middle Period between 1911 and 1937, with a combined estimate of HK$2.6 million-HK$3.2 million) and a marginal example of the popular 1941 Dr. Sun Yat-sen inverted centre error (presale estimate HK$2.2 million-HK$2.6 million). Two major postal history collections trace the development of the Qing Dynasty Nineteenth Century Chinese postal system from the issuance of China’s first stamps in 1878 and include numerous rare and choice envelopes. A 600-lot Hong Kong and Treaty Ports section contains a broad representation of both stamps and postal history and includes among the highlights a 1780 letter from Canton to Trieste that is probably the earliest letter from China with postal markings.