Hong Kong Stamps
Although the Hong Kong Post Office was founded in August 1841, it was not until 8 December 1862 that the first set of postage stamps was issued. The design of the first issue featured a portrait of Queen Victoria engraved by Jean Ferdinand Joubert. There are six denominations; 2c, 8c, 12c, 18c, 24c, 48c, 96c; each value corresponded to a specific postage rate at the time. The stamps were printed by line-engraved method by De La Rue of Great Britain on unwatermarked paper. 1863 saw the release of the same denominations with addition of 4c, 6c and 30c printed on paper bearing Crown CA watermark.
The first set of King Edward VII stamps bearing His Majesty's portrait by Emil Fuchs was issued in 1903 and it was printed on paper with Crown CA watermark. Subsequent printings were released from 1904 onwards and these were printed on ordinary and chalky paper with Multiple Crown CA watermark.
The first set of King George V definitive stamps was issued in 1912 printed again by De La Rue on paper with watermark Multiple Crown CA. The paper was later changed to Multiple Script CA from 1921 onwards.
In 1917, due to fluctuation in the exchange rates between the Hong Kong Dollar and the Chinese currency, the Crown CA KGV issue was overprinted "CHINA" to be used exclusively in the China Treaty Ports. From 1922 onwards, Hong Kong stamps with Script CA watermark were also overprinted CHINA. When the China Treaty Ports closed in November 1922, the CHINA overprints were used exclusively at the Crown Colony of Wei Hai Wei until its closure in 1930.
King George VI definitive stamps were released by De La Rue in stages from 1938. When the De La Rue factory in London was bombed during the Second World War, Bradbury Wilkinson and Harrison printed the stamps on thinly coated paper; the so-called "Rough paper Wartime printings". After the war, De La Rue began printing the KGVI stamps again until the King's death. Unlike Great Britain, the short-lived reign of King Edward VIII did not see stamps produced for Hong Kong.
The first set of Queen Elizabeth II definitive stamps was issued on 5 January 1954 bearing a similar design dated back to Victorian times. The break through came about in 1962 when the multicolor Annigoni designs appeared. The designs of the definitive stamps were changed five times, in 1973 (Machin), 1982 (Lion and Dragon), 1987 (Hong Kong Harbor and Buildings) and 1992 (Calligraphy) before 1997.
The 1954 Wilding issue bears the Script CA watermark and a new watermarked paper bearing Crown Block CA was introduced by the Crown Agents for the 1962 Annigoni issue. A new watermark Crown Spiral CA appeared on the 1975 re-print of the 1973 Machin issue. No watermark paper was used for all subsequent printings and definitive stamps after 1985.
On 26 February 1997, the first set of definitive stamps bearing just the inscriptions HONG KONG, the so-called "Neutral Definitive stamps" was issued prior to returning of sovereignty to China on 1 July 1997.
The Hong Kong SAR first set of definitive stamp depicting landmarks of Hong Kong was issued on 18 October 1999 and it is the first ever pictorial definitive stamps of Hong Kong; the inscription on the stamps now shows HONG KONG, CHINA. The paper used for printing contains security fibres and a new perforator bearing eliptical perforation at each side was introduced for this issue.
On 14 October 2002, another set of pictorial definitive stamps depicting images of Eastern and Western culture was launched and this was quickly followed by the 2006 Bird definitive stamps released on 31 December 2006.
2012 commemorates the 150th anniversary of Hong Kong stamps and the Hong Kong Philatelic Society celebrates this event by a comprehensive display of Hong Kong stamps at its annual stamp show held in March. Hong Kong Post will be releasing a special issue to commemorate the 150th anniversary later on in the year.
For up to date information about Hong Kong stamps please check the Hong Kong Post Stamps website.
Essential Reference by our members:
Hong Kong Postage Stamps of the Queen Victoria Period 'A Collector's Notebook' by Air Commodore R.N. Gurevitch ©1993
A Study of HK Definitives: King Edward VII & King George V by N. Halewood & D. Antscherl ©1995
A Study of HK Definitives Adhesives of King George VI by N. Halewood & D. Antscherl ©1992
The 1891 Jubilee Overprint of Hong Kong by Dr. Chan Shiu-Hon FRPSL ©1997
Hong Kong - The 1898 10c on 30c Provisional Issue by Alfred M. Chu ISBN 0-646-35839-1 ©1998
Hong Kong Forgeries by Ming W. Tsang
Hong Kong Registration Labels by Ming W. Tsang
Postage Due & the Handling of Underpaid Mail of Hong Kong by Sammy Chiu & K. Tsui ©1996
Postal Rate History of China & Hong Kong - The Pre-adhesive Period 1800 - 1845 by Lee C. Scamp ©1986
Far East Mail Ship Itineraries Vol. 1 by Lee C. Scamp ©1997
Cancellations of the Treaty Ports of Hong Kong 1850 - 1930 by Dr. Hans Schoenfeld ©1988
Cancellations of Hong Kong by Dr. Hans Schoenfeld ©1989
The Hong Kong & the Treaty Ports of China & Japan by F.W. Webb (Chinese Edition) by Charles Chan ©2000
Hong Kong Queen Victoria Postal Adhesives by Air Commodore R.N. Gurevitch c 2001