InterAsia auction offers China’s rare surcharged red Small Dollar stamp

Apr 30, 2021, 6 AM

By Michael Baadke

A top classic rarity of China is among the many stamps and postal history items that will be offered during the June 16-18 InterAsia auction series.

The auction firm has compiled four catalogs for the upcoming sales, which will be held in the Kellett Room on level 3 of the Excelsior Hotel in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay area.

The four catalogs feature stamps and postal history of China and other Asia countries, the Jane and Dan Sten Olsson collection of Large Dragons (sale 3), the People’s Republic of China and liberated areas, and Hong Kong and treaty ports.

An unused example of China’s 1897 red revenue stamp with the small $1 surcharge (Scott 83) is being offered during the second auction session on Saturday, as part of the China and other Asia sale.

InterAsia notes that only 32 examples of the stamp have been recorded, a stamp that is acknowledged as the rarest regularly issued stamp of China, “and ranks among the great world rarities.”

When the 3¢ red revenue stamp was surcharged in different denominations for postal use, the $1 surcharge was printed small. It was quickly replaced by an enlarged overprint, thereby creating the second variety with wider figures (Scott 84).

The value of the Small Dollar red stamp listed in the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 is $900,000, with the value printed in italics to indicate a stamp that can be a challenge to value accurately.

The stamp is listed by InterAsia Auctions with a presale estimate in Hong Kong dollars of $6 million to $8 million. In mid-May, that estimate is roughly equivalent to $764,380 to $1.02 million in U.S. dollars.

Another famous rarity in this sale is an unused example of China’s $2 black and blue Gateway Hall of Classics from the first Peking printing with the center inverted (Scott 237a). This particular stamp was once in the collection of Col. E.H.R. Green and was later owned by J.C. Morgenthau.

The stamp is described as well-centered with bright colors and large part to much original gum, and “inconsequential glazing from hinge remainders.”

The InterAsia estimate is set at HK$600,000 to HK$800,000 (approximately $76,440 to $101,920).

The Scott Classic Specialized catalog lists a value in italics of $200,000 for the invert.

The Olsson collection of Large Dragons is a celebration of China’s first stamp issue, which first appeared in 1878 with three denominations: 1 candareen green, 3c brown red, and 5c orange.

The upcoming InterAsia auction offers essays, proofs, issued stamps and postal history, including a unique and spectacular rarity: the earliest recorded cover bearing Large Dragons stamps and therefore, the earliest known cover franked with stamps of Imperial China.

The linen envelope addressed to Shanghai is franked with a pair and a single of the 1878 5c orange typographed stamp on thin paper (Scott 3).

The stamps, paying the 15c triple domestic rate, are canceled with the blue “I.G. of Customs/Peking/Oct. 5 78” circular datestamp plus the “Customs/Shanghai/Oct. 12 78” circular datestamp in red, and a “Shanghae Local Post/Oct. 12 78” circular datestamp in blue.

The reverse of the cover bears the wax seal of the sender, the Peruvian Legation in China.

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InterAsia advises in its catalog that prospective bidders for the earliest recorded cover lot need to contact the firm at least five days before the auction.

InterAsia has set a pre-auction estimate of HK$7 million to HK$9 million, approximately US$891,770 to US$1.15 million.

The four catalogs for the InterAsia auction series can be viewed online. The firm has an online bid sheet available on the website.

For additional information, contact InterAsia Auctions Ltd., Suite A, 13/F, Shun Ho Tower, 24-30 Ice House St., Central, Hong Kong.