Preeminent China, Hong Kong and Asian stamp auctioneer Interasia Auctions Ltd will be auctioning the rarest regularly-issued stamp of China – the 1897 Red Revenue Small One Dollar – at its mammoth Chinese and Asian stamp auction at the Excelsior Hotel in Hong Kong on Saturday June 29 – Monday July 1, 2013.
The 2,800 lot, three-day stamp auction has a pre-sale estimate in excess of over US$6,000,000 and promises to be the largest stamp auction in Hong Kong this year and likewise the largest auction of Chinese stamps anywhere in the world this year to date. The undisputed star of this major stamp auction is the China 1897 Red Revenue Small One Dollar (Lot 530 with a presale estimate US$800,000-900,000.
Only 32 examples are recorded of this iconic stamp, which is acknowledged as the rarest regularly issued stamp of China and ranks among the world’s great stamp rarities. The Red Revenue series, of which the Small One Dollar is a part, was adopted as a provisional measure, as the set of stamps to reflect China’s new currency that was to be issued was delayed at their Japanese printer.
Consequently, an unissued red revenue stamp was overprinted with various denominations as a stop gap measure. The Red Revenues are also considered by many to be the true first national issues of China, as the previous China stamps listed in the standard catalogues were issued by the foreigner-dominated Maritime Customs Department for their limited postal system. The Red Revenues were issued by the Qing Government itself for the national postal system that it was instituting. Their bright red color – a symbol of luck and good fortune in Chinese culture – no doubt adds to the series’ appeal.
The Chinese characters in the Small One Dollar's overprint were however considered too small, so that a second one dollar Red Revenue stamp with larger characters was subsequently issued, accounting for the limited issuance of this major world rarity.