The Surprise Winner in the US-China Trade War

The Stamp Man

The Stamp Man

2020-10-09 14:53:03

What will fuel the next phase of the exciting bull market in Chinese rare stamps?

Since Donald Trump gained control of the world’s largest economy, we have seen the US enter a bitter trade battle with the world’s second largest economy, China. 

According to the BBC, this resulted in tariffs on more than $360 billion imposed by the US on the import of Chinese goods. China retaliated with tariffs on more than $110 billion of US products.

Since February 2018, US tariffs have actually taxed over $550 billion of Chinese goods.

China has reacted by devaluing their currency to minimise the impact by being able to sell to US buyers at a lower dollar price.

The Chinese rare stamp market is starting to look like a surprise winner in the current trade war.

Let me explain…

  1. The trade war is causing price inflation in China 

The values of rare stamps tend to correlate significantly with their economy’s rate of inflation

  1. The Chinese stock market is a less attractive investment proposition as businesses relocate out of China to avoid the US tariffs 

This leads to an inevitable increased interest in alternative investments, which includes rare collectibles

  1. There is an increased desire for wealthy Chinese residents to hold money outside of China 

The Chinese banking system remains restrictive on Foreign remittances and stamps can be used as an alternative portable currency

  1. Demand for rare Chinese stamps from outside of China is increasing at a time when Chinese demand is making them even scarcer

There is an increasing interest from overseas buyers of Chinese stamps because of investment interest and online trading of Chinese stamps is booming

Recent evidence of the strong market

China is famous for some of the world’s most valuable stamps including the 3rd most valuable stamp in the world after the British Guiana 1c Magenta ($9.5 million) and Swedish Treskilling Yellow ($2.9 million).

The stamp in question was issued in 1968 from the Cultural Revolution, named “The Whole Country is Red”.

It sold at the auction house China Guardian in Beijing for $2 million.

The major auction houses in China are all reporting strong recent results. For example, the last InterAsia auction in Hong Kong realised $3.8 million. 

In the UK, I have recently participated in a number of auctions. From my own personal experience, it is clear that interest in Chinese stamps is very high at the moment with prices realised for fine quality rare Chinese stamps often above SG catalogue values.

The challenge in finding fine quality examples

China is a country with a very interesting and turbulent history. It has seen decades of political instability, war and huge cultural change.

Because of its history, the quality of stamp production has been inconsistent and few examples of rare stamps are to be found today in good quality. Most, frankly, are in appalling condition.

The challenge in finding quality examples is only half the battle…

Because the market is so strongly contested, when I find examples which pass my condition grade standards, I find it near impossible to buy these rare finds at a price I am willing to pay.

After all, offering you high quality examples of rare stamps at a fair price is my mission statement.

Despite these seemingly insurmountable challenges, I have enjoyed some measure of success recently in securing some fine quality rare Chinese stamps for you.

You can view the selection we have available by clicking on the link below. You will need to be quick. As I said, demand is very high right now…


Whether you are a collector or an investor, I believe we have something for you. Here are my top 3 recommendations from our current stock…

China 1883 "Candarins" thicker paper, 2 1/2mm spacing 1ca pale green, 3ca vermilion and 5ca chrome-yellow, SG7/9C

Price: £1,400


My reasons for recommending: 

  • The “Large Dragons” stamp issue is the first stamp issue of the Chinese Empire. Being the equivalent to the penny black of China, it is one of the most instantly recognisable and coveted stamps in the world.
  • The set of three from the 3rd printing of March 1883 I have were printed on much thicker and better quality paper
  • These are lovely used examples benefiting, in particular, from good perforations. The perforations were rough on this issue and are seldom seen clean cut.
  • I am able to offer you this fine set of China’s first stamps for just £1,400, which is a 13% discount to the last SG catalogue value published in 2018
  • As you would expect, they have proven a strong long term investment recording an average growth rate of 25%pa over the past 20 years

China 1913 London Waterlow printing, 1c blue vertical pair with interpane margin at left, error imperforation between, SGD334a 

Price: £4,000


My reasons for recommending: 

  • These postage due stamps were printed in high quality by the London printers, Waterlow & sons
  • I cannot stress enough how rare this imperforate error is. It is not only the first one I have ever seen but I can’t even find any evidence of another example selling online in the past 20 years!
  • The quality is exceptional. I hardly ever experience the delight in finding a mint example of a major Chinese stamp rarity with most of its original gum still in place. It also has a premium rarity factor being a left hand interpane marginal example.
  • I am able to offer you this major Chinese rarity for the price of £4,000. This is the last SG catalogue value from 2018. I believe it remains under-priced relative to its rarity. You are highly unlikely to find a similar quality example and, if one ever did appear at auction, I doubt very much you would win it for £4,000.
  • As an investment, as this error is so exceptionally rare, I believe it has a lot of growth potential. That said, it was listed in the SG 2006 catalogue at a value of just £225. That’s growth of 1,678% in the past 14 years, illustrating just how lucrative an investment in the right Chinese rare stamp can be.

China 1897 Large surcharge $1 on 3c deep red, SG91. 


Price: £5,500


My reasons for recommending:

  • In 1897, the new Qing Dynasty government took charge of the Post Office. There was an immediate need for a large quantity of stamps, especially those of high value. While waiting for the delivery of new stamps from Japan a Provisional Issue was made using existing stock from the Imperial Customs.
  • A quantity of 600,000 of the 3c Revenue stamps received from England were surcharged with different values. The high value surcharged stamps, such as this $1 example, are very scarce and highly sought after by avid collectors.
  • The example I have is of particular fresh quality and with significant original gum
  • This iconic 3c Red Revenue $1 surcharge stamp is available today for a price of £5,500, an 8% discount on the current SG catalogue value
  • Because of its enduring popularity and scarcity, it has shown strong growth in value in recent years. It has increased in value by over 400% in the past 20 years. 

Last chance to get on the Chinese stamp gravy train before the next big price rise

To summarise:

  • The Chinese stamp market has been the biggest growth market in philately for the past 20 years, although cooled down somewhat in the last three years
  • Growth has been fuelled by the burgeoning Chinese middle class with an inherent passion for collecting and an incentive to own tangible portable assets
  • The trade war with the US has created an economic situation making stamps particularly attractive again as an alternative investment
  • Recent market indicators validate this with increased online trading activity and higher auction realisations 

As I said, it is challenging to find quality examples of rare Chinese stamps at prices I am willing to pay.

Today, I have a small selection of fine quality Chinese stamp rarities available. Tomorrow may be a different story…

Kind regards


Mike Hall

CEO, Just Collecting

PS. If you have any questions or need any further help, feel free to e-mail me at or call on +44(0)1534 639998.

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