Stamp detective: Chinese post offices in Tibet

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29 June 2021
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Our philatelic private eye spies another stamp set that’s likely to go up in value, focussing on stamps issued by Chinese post offices operating in Tibet.

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At the beginning of the 20th century, the status of Tibet was rather unclear. In the autumn of 1909, China sent its army into Tibet defeating the local resistance at Chamdo. Later, the Chinese occupied Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.

It was in this context that the Chinese postal services established a number of post offices in several Tibetan cities in 1909 first using contemporary Chinese stamps.

In 1911, a set of eleven values was issued for the Chinese Post offices in Tibet with denominations in Indian currency (pies, annas and rupees) overprinted in Chinese, English and Tibetan. This is a very scarce set as only 3,704 stamps were sold of the 2 rupees value.

The Three Pies value saw a printing of 72,200 stamps which makes it affordable in mint condition. Many collectors specialise in Number Ones of the world (i.e. the very first stamp ever issued by a country or territory).

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There will always be demand for this stamp which currently sells for more than £20 in mounted mint condition. It is not only of interest to No. One collectors but also to philatelists specialising in Tibet and China.

The 1911 revolution in China resulted in a revolt in Lhasa and the Chinese troops stationed there had to be evacuated by way of India the following year. The last Chinese post office on Tibetan territory was closed in 1918 when the Tibetan authorities regained control of Chamdo.


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