The original artists’ drawings for the first Chinese postage stamps are offered at Interasia Auctions.
They will cross the block as a single lot in the The Jane and Dan Stan Olsson Collection of Large Dragons Sale 1 in Hong Kong on April 1.
The large dragon stamps were China's first official postage
Included are the designs for the large dragons issue (released in 1878) along with a proposed yin-yang watermark design.
These were the illustrations submitted by printer De La Rue for the approval of Sir Robert Hart, the first inspector general of the Imperial Maritime Customs, in 1877.
Hart gave them the go-ahead, although it would be a year before the printing was complete and the stamps were ready to go.
The watermark (purportedly by Hart himself) was adopted on later issues.
The auction house says: “These exquisite and beautifully executed drawings are universally acknowledged to be the earliest designs for the first postage stamps of China.”
The lot is expected to make around $231,816-283,331.
The sale will also include an 1879 large dragon cover sent between Tientsin, China and the rectory in Birkin, Yorkshire.
The cover displays six large dragons, used to pay the 26 candarin double rate required for post going to China through either Southampton or Marseille.
It’s valued at $77,271-103,028.
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