Stamp detective: British settlement in Shanghai


05 November 2023
Our regular guide to the stamp market picks out an intriguing stamp from the British settlement in the Chinese city of Shanghai.

In 1843 the British established a settlement in the Chinese city of Shanghai. It was followed by other European nations and Shanghai soon developed into a hub for trade and communications.

The European traders were not particularly happy with the Chinese postal service and they created a private postal service which was operated by the municipality. The first stamps were issued in 1865 – the first in China – and the Shanghai example was followed by many other Chinese port cities. 

The Shanghai Local Post provided an excellent service for many years until it was suppressed by the Chinese Imperial Government in 1897. Today the stamps and postal history of Shanghai enjoy great popularity.

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The 50th anniversary of the first settlement was commemorated with a single 2-cent stamp released on 11 November 1893. It’s a fairly large stamp which depicts Mercury. The Stanley Gibbons catalogue indicates that the stamp exists in two shades.

This is not a particularly valuable stamp but when checking a number of internet auction sites I found few offers. It was usually offered in small lots along with a few other Shanghai stamps and generally in used condition. 

Locating unmount mint copies in good condition is not that easy and a pound or two is a reasonable price to pay for a nice copy. With the continued strong demand for the stamp issues of Shanghai and the other Chinese treaty ports, we can expect a slow but steady increase in value.