Stamp detective: China's chrysanthemum stamps

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The current market situation for better Chinese stamps is extremely volatile with certain issues soaring in price at auction and other sets attracting less bidding. But there are bargains to be found, as out regular market insider guide reveals.

The focus is still very much on the better sets and souvenir sheets issued during the Cultural Revolution period in mainland China.

On 10 December 1960, China released a number of stamps depicting chrysanthemums. The following year additional stamps were added. The complete set comprises 18 different stamps. It is listed by Stanley Gibbons as numbers 1947-1964. 

At the time this attractive thematic set was acquired by numerous collectors all over the world. The fact that it was released over a fairly long period of time meant that not all collectors own the complete set. Many were of course also used on mail.

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In its 1989 China catalogue, Stanley Gibbons listed the set at a respectable £35 in unmounted mint condition.

At a recent auction in Europe, a complete unmounted mint set sold for an amazing £6,455! The auction description indicates that the gum was without any blemishes such as finger marks, toning, etc. The set most probably went to a Chinese collector (or investor). When people pay this kind of money for a set of stamps, they obviously require perfect quality and Chinese collectors tend to be very fussy about the gummed side of a stamp.

The price paid for this particular set appears to be on the high side. Shopping around it should be possible to buy a set for about £1,000.