On Tuesday January 21st Banbury Stamp Society welcomed David Hutchins who gave a presentation ‘A Philatelic History of China’. David set the scene by playing us a recording of 2,000 year old bells that had been excavated in China and restored to working condition. The mini LP had been issued by the Chinese Post Office in the 1980’s in conjunction with a miniature sheet depicting the bells. We moved ahead 1900 years to the introduction of postage stamps, mainly at the Treaty ports set up by European states in places such as Shanghai, Chunqing (on the Yangtze) and Amoy. Despite their European origin, many of these stamps were designed and printed locally. The first Chinese stamp was produced in 1878, illustrated with a large dragon, and has been prolifically – and profitably – forged.
Modern China is started in 1911 when the Emperor abdicated and the Chinese Republic was formed with Sun Yat-Sen and General Yuan Shikai at the helm. Sun Yat-Sen appeared regularly on stamps thereafter; Yuan Shikai assumed the role of Emperor which did not last for long as China descended into civil war. Sun Yat-Sen then joined with Chiang Kai Shek to form the Kuo Min Tang (KMT) and we saw membership stamps for the KMT. Japan set up a puppet regime in Manchuria – headed by the ‘last’ Emperor who appeared on their stamps. We were shown a letter from a Japanese sergeant in the occupying army in Manchuria. The KMT eventually defeated the Japanese, but Mao Tse Tung formed the Communist party to challenge the KMT. The Communists were nearly defeated by the KMT, making their escape in what has become known as ‘the Long March’, later commemorated on stamps. The west sided with the KMT and friendship stamps were issued jointly with the USA, raising funds for the fight against both the Communists and the Japanese. After WWII, China was still in a state of civil war and suffering from hyper-inflation and currency devaluation, shown in various stamp issue from this period. Mao eventually drove the KMT to Taiwan, liberating the rest of the country and issuing stamps for each region as he took control. By 1949, Mao had unified China and Republic stamps were issued. Through the 1950’s China’s relationship with the USSR led to a number of Soviet themes on issues, including one of Stalin and Mao signing an accord. There were issues for the 5 year plans in 1953 and 1958. By 1961, China and the USSR fell out over Albania and Russia was replaced by a range of more colourful themes until the 1966 Cultural Revolution – during which nearly all stamps included a quote from Chairman Mao’s ‘Little Red Book’.
Our next meeting will be Tuesday February 4th at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre. Members will display Stamps and Covers around the letter I. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.