InterAsia Auctions



Sale 75

Asian Stamps & Postal History


Customs Mail Matter, Transitional Period and Imperial Post
 
 
 

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Lot 59 China, Customs Mail Matter/Canton : 1887 (1 Aug.) envelope to Peking, showing "Canton Customs/Mail Matter" oval h.s., and on reverse its accompanying "Customs/Canton" type A double-ring origin d.s. of "Aug 1 87" and "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring transit d.s. (7.8).
Estimate HK$ 20,000 - 25,000


Provenance: Richard Canman, Stanley Gibbons (London), 19.10.1972, lot 16.

References: Directorate General of Posts, Ministry of Communications. The Revenue Surcharges China 1897, Vol. II, p. 830
Customs Dater (1875-1913). Philatelic Writer's Club (Taiwan, 2008), p. 21.

A rare example of mail transmitted by the Customs Postal Department and then by the Customs Post Office. An unusual "combination" cover.
  Realized HK$109,250
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Lot 60 China, Customs Mail Matter/Chefoo : 1897 (10 Feb.) envelope to Shanghai (12.2), showing "Chefoo Customs/Mail Matter" framed h.s. in red, with "Customs/Chefoo" double-ring origin d.s. and brown "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring arrival d.s. on reverse.
Estimate HK$ 4,000 - 5,000


A very early usage during the first days of the Imperial Post following its inauguration on 2 February 1897.

Auction Record
Christie's (Zurich), 19.5.1988, lot 3036
Christie's (Hong Kong), 3.5.1995, lot 2163.
  Realized HK$5,750
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Lot 61 China, Customs Mail Matter/Chinkiang : 1896 (15 Oct.) neat envelope to Shanghai (16.10), showing "Chinkiang Customs/Mail Matter" oval unframed h.s., with matching "Customs/Chinkiang" double-ring origin d.s., blue "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring d.s. (16.10) and "Shanghai/Local Post" arrival c.d.s. in red on reverse, small part of flap at back missing due to rough opening there but postal markings remain complete, very fine usage with delivery to the Shanghai Local Post system and very fine strike for this difficult Customs Mail Matter handstamp.
Estimate HK$ 8,000 - 10,000


Auction Record
Taiwan Rupen (Taipei), 10.4.1984, lot 189.
  Realized HK$27,600
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Lot 62 China, Customs Mail Matter/Chungking : 1897 (July) envelope (embossed "Custom House/Chungking" imprint on flap) to Austria (18.9), redirected internally (19.9), showing "Customs/Chungking" oval d.s. and "Chungking Customs/Mail Matter" oval unframed h.s. in red, partially covered by France "Chine" 25c., cancelled by "Shang-hai/Chine" c.d.s. (11.8), with "Shanghai" dollar chop (7.8) in blue on reverse, fine and rare usage of these Chungking Customs markings (the dollar dater for Chungking was not introduced until October).
Estimate HK$ 60,000 - 80,000


References: Customs Dater (1875-1913). Philatelic Writer's Club (Taiwan, 2008), p. 52.

According to our records, there are only seven examples of the Chungking Customs Mail Matter handstamp known on cover.
  Realized HK$69,000
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Lot 63 China, Customs Mail Matter/Foochow : 1890 (20 June) envelope to Shanghai (24.6), showing "Foochow Customs/Mail Matter" type II oval h.s. in red, with matching "Customs/Foochow" double-ring origin d.s., "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring d.s. (24.6) and "Shanghai/Local Post/B" arrival c.d.s. in blue on reverse, envelope opened out for display and with various peripheral tears and edge restoration due to rough opening, none of which affects any of the markings, fine to very fine strike of the Customs Mail Matter handstamp.
Estimate HK$ 25,000 - 30,000


Provenance: Richard Canman, Stanley Gibbons (London), 19.10.1972, lot 25.

The earliest recorded date of use of the Customs Mail Matter type II handstamp, predating any other example by more than three years.
  Realized HK$184,000
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Lot 64 China, Customs Mail Matter/Foochow : 1897 (9 Sept.) envelope to Shanghai (12.9), showing "Foochow Customs/Mail Matter" type III double-ring oval h.s. in brown, with matching "Foochow" origin dollar dater adjacent, and "Shanghai" arrival dollar dater in blue on reverse, fine.
Estimate HK$ 18,000 - 22,000
  Realized HK$74,750
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Lot 65 China, Customs Mail Matter/Hankow : 1891 (13 Apr.) envelope to Germany (24.5), showing on reverse "Hankow Customs/Mail Matter" unframed oval h.s. in red, matching "Customs/Hankow" origin and "Customs/Shanghai" transit double-ring d.s., and bearing on front France Peace and Commerce 25c., cancelled by "Shang-hai/Chine" c.d.s. (17.4), with "Ligne N. Paq. Fr. No. 8" octagonal d.s. (18.7) adjacent, the envelope has light age spotting and is roughly opened at top (small part of flap torn away) resulting in tears, as well as a horizontal crease crossing both the French stamp and the Customs Mail Matter handstamp, a very good example.
Estimate HK$ 10,000 - 12,000


References: Directorate General of Posts, Ministry of Communications. The Revenue Surcharges China 1897, Vol. II, pp. 65-66.
Customs Dater (1875-1913). Philatelic Writer's Club (Taiwan, 2008), p. 21.

Auction Record
Taiwan Rupen (Taipei), 10.4.1984, lot 180.
  Unsold
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Lot 66 China, Customs Mail Matter/Ningpo : 1897 (2 Mar.) envelope to C.E. Tanant, Customs, Peking (8.3), showing "Ningpo Customs/Mail Matter" double-ring oval h.s., matching "Customs/Ningpo" double-ring origin d.s. adjacent, and brown "Customs/Shanghai" transit (3.3) and blue "Customs/Peking" arrival double-ring d.s. on reverse, fine to very fine.
Estimate HK$ 25,000 - 30,000


Provenance: Richard Canman, Stanley Gibbons (London), 19.10.1972, lot 35.
  Realized HK$97,750
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Lot 67 China, Customs Mail Matter/Ningpo : 1897 (12 Nov.) neat envelope to Shanghai (18.11), showing "Ningpo Customs/Mail Matter" double-ring oval h.s., matching "Ningpo" origin dollar dater adjacent, and "Shanghai" arrival dollar dater in blue on reverse, envelope just a little roughly opened across "ing" of "Ningpo" in dollar dater, otherwise very fine.
Estimate HK$ 20,000 - 25,000
  Realized HK$34,500
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Lot 68 China, Customs Mail Matter/Peking : 1896 (21 May) envelope to Paris (July arrival), showing "I.G./Mail Matter" oval h.s. in blue, matching "I.G. of Customs/Peking" double-ring origin d.s. and "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring transit d.s. (25.5), both on reverse, overlapped by France "Chine" 25c., cancelled by "Shang-hai/Chine" c.d.s. (29.5), with "Modane à Paris" c.d.s. (5.7) in red, fine to very fine.
Estimate HK$ 6,000 - 8,000


Auction Record
Christie's Robson Lowe (Hong Kong), 28.5.1991, lot 476.
  Realized HK$6,900
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Lot 69 China, Customs Mail Matter/Shanghai : 1898 (5 Sept.) envelope from St. Petersburg to the Russian Warship "Navarin" care of the Russian Consul in Hong Kong (18.10), redirected to Chefoo (arrival) via Shanghai (22.10) bearing Russia Arms 10kop. (2), both have defects due to rough opening of envelope at right, cancelled by "6" in concentric circles, showing on reverse "Shanghai Customs/Mail Matter" oval h.s. in red where placed into the Chinese Imperial Post as official mail by the Russian Consul and then transmitted to Chefoo (arrival dollar dater), and then handed over to the Russian Post Office with "Chifu/1 Post Ob. Kontora/1" arrival c.d.s. (15/27.10), fine and a highly unusual usage of the Customs Mail Matter handstamp, which was to have been officially withdrawn from use after 31 December 1897, even though the free franking privilege continued well into 1898.
Estimate HK$ 35,000 - 40,000
  Realized HK$40,250
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Lot 70 China, 1896 (15 Dec.) envelope to Peking (4.1.97) bearing Dowager Empress 3ca. orange-yellow (2, one misperforated at foot), cancelled by "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring d.s. and showing "I.G. of Customs/Peking" double-ring arrival d.s. on reverse, fine and rare northbound envelope from the Berteaux correspondence carried on what is probably the first day of the winter overland route for the 1896-97 season.
Estimate HK$ 50,000 - 60,000


Provenance: Huang Ming-Jeng, Interasia (Hong Kong), 15.12.2012, lot 159.

This envelope apparently establishes the precise date for the opening of the 1896-97 winter overland service, in terms of letters which originated in the south (northbound mail). There also is an 1896 (11 Dec.) Hong Kong 4c. postal stationery card from Hong Kong to the Imperial Maritime Customs at Peking, which transited the Shanghai Customs Post on 15 December and arrived in Peking on 4 January 1897 (Customs Dater, p. 198). Similarly, there is a 17 December 1896 envelope from the French Consulate in Shanghai to Mr. Berteaux at the French Legation in Peking bearing Dowager 1ca. (3) + 12ca., which also arrived at the Customs Post Office in Peking on 4 January 1897 (Tony Kwan, Vol. I, p. 419). Interestingly, all three examples of the mail matter cited herein have the same arrival date of 4 January 1897.

This "first day" cover represents a double rate usage (postage 3 candarins x 2 in the old currency = 4 cents x 2 winter rate).

The 1896 Winter Overland Service exemplified the transition between the Customs Post and the Imperial Post, providing an important link between the two. In his recent article published in The China Stamp Society Journal (No. 19), Robert Kong records only two domestic examples (not including the above cover) of mail matter originating in the south, which were carried by the Winter Overland Service. Mail sent before 31 December 1896 was still subject to the regulations of the Customs Post, but from 2 January 1897 the New Currency surcharges were used.
  Realized HK$184,000
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Lot 71 China, 1896 (24 Dec.) "United States Consulate, Tientsin, China" corner card envelope to Alfred E. Hippisley, Peking (25.12), showing "Postage Paid" straight-line h.s. in blue, and matching "Customs/Tientsin" double-ring origin d.s. of "Dec 24 96", with "I.G. of Customs/Peking" double-ring arrival d.s. on reverse, endorsed "1/4" in blue crayon indicating ¼ ounce weight which was the basic 2 cents domestic rate, fine and outstanding usage during the transitional period between the Customs and Imperial Post.
Estimate HK$ 100,000 - 120,000


THE EARLIEST RECORDED USAGE OF THE POSTAGE PAID HANDSTAMP, OF WHICH THERE ARE ONLY TWO SUCH ENVELOPES.

The other 24 December 1896 envelope is to the same addressee, Alfred E. Hippisley, Inspectorate-General of Customs, Peking (ex Paul K.S. Chang; Elling O. Eide, Interasia, 11.1.2014, lot 150).

Auction Record
Christie's Swire (Hong Kong), 16.10.1993, lot 1889.
  Realized HK$253,000
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Lot 72 China, 1896 (30 Dec.) envelope to Shanghai (14.1.97), showing "Chinese Imperial Post Office/Peking/Postage Paid" circular h.s. in blue, matching "I.G. of Customs/Peking" double-ring origin d.s. of "Dec 30 96", and on reverse "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring transit d.s. in brown and "Shanghai/Local Post" double-ring arrival d.s., indistinct red crayon rating which should correlate to the 4 cents domestic winter overland rate per ½ ounce, a fine and very early example of this distinctive Postage Paid handstamp carried by the winter overland service.
Estimate HK$ 180,000 - 220,000


THIS IS PROBABLY THE EARLIEST USAGE OF THE PEKING POSTAGE PAID CIRCULAR HANDSTAMP, OF WHICH THERE ARE ONLY THREE DECEMBER USAGES RECORDED.

The second of the December 1896 usages is a 31 December 1896 envelope also to Shanghai (15.1.97) (Interasia, 4.12.2017, lot 389). The third is an envelope to Belgium through the French Post Office in Shanghai (15.1.97) showing the December month and year only in the Peking Customs dater as that cancellation is partly covered by the French adhesive. Based on the Shanghai receiving dates of the three covers, this last cover was probably postrmarked on 31 December (or possibly 30 December).
  Realized HK$368,000
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Lot 73 China, 1897 (9 Jan.) envelope to Laucastin, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (25.2) via Yokohama (4.2) and San Francisco (20.2), showing "Postage Paid" straight-line h.s. in blue, matching "Customs/Tientsin" double-ring origin d.s., and bearing Japan Koban 5s., cancelled by "Shanghai/I.J.P.O." c.d.s. (24.1), showing on reverse "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring transit c.d.s. (24.1) in brown, envelope has a few peripheral faults, fine overseas usage.
Estimate HK$ 20,000 - 25,000


Provenance: Dr. Stephen Gates, John Bull (Hong Kong), 8.3.2009, lot 2331.
  Realized HK$23,000
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Lot 74 China, 1897 (20 Jan.) envelope to Peking (22.1) showing "Postage Paid" straight-line h.s. in blue, and matching "Customs/Tientsin" double-ring origin d.s. (20.1 and 21.1) alongside, with "I.G. of Customs/Peking" double-ring arrival d.s. on reverse, fine slightly doubled strike, from the Berteaux correspondence.
Estimate HK$ 8,000 - 10,000
  Unsold
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Lot 75 China, 1897 (12 Jan.) registered envelope to Cairo, Egypt (24.2) via Suez (24.2), showing "Chinese Imperial Post Office/Peking/Postage Paid" circular h.s. in blue, matching "I.G. of Customs/Peking" double-ring origin d.s., in combination with France "Chine" 1f., cancelled by "Shang-hai/Chine" c.d.s. (28.1), three strikes of unframed "Registered" h.s. in blue, framed "R" h.s. in red and "Ligne N./Paq. Fr. No. 10" octagonal d.s. (8.2), and on reverse "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring transit d.s. (25.1) in brown and "Hong Kong/A" transit c.d.s. (2.2), as well as "Suez" and "Caire" arrival c.d.s., the French adhesive has two small corner faults/defects, a fine and spectacular overseas usage to an unusual destination.
Estimate HK$ 100,000 - 120,000


References: Directorate General of Posts, Ministry of Communications. The Revenue Surcharges China 1897, Vol. I, p. 278.

The French postage was for a triple weight (45 grammes; 1½ ounces) letter : postage 25 centimes x 3 + registration fee 25 centimes = 1 franc. The bilingual "Paid" handstamp represented payment of 52 cents postage at Peking : postage for triple weight (1½ ounces) foreign mail 10c. x 3 + foreign registration fee 10c. + inland postage for winter mail 12c. (by rate of weight for 1½ ounces) + domestic registration fee 4c. = 56 cents.
  Realized HK$437,000
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Lot 76 China, 1896 (8 Dec.) envelope from Fourmies, France to Peking (7.2.97) via Paris (9.12) bearing France 25c., cancelled by "Le Nouvion en Thierache/Aisne" c.d.s., in combination with New Currency small figures surcharge on Dowager 4c. on 4ca. applied on arrival in China and cancelled by "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring d.s. (18.1.97), with "I.G. of Customs/Peking" double-ring arrival d.s. in blue on reverse, the 4c. on 4ca. applied just over the edge of the envelope, which has been opened out for display (a few hinge reinforcements along the fold at left), very fine. A great postal history rarity with the New Currency surcharge used during the transitional period between the Customs and Imperial Post prior to the official issue of the surcharged stamps and the opening of the Imperial Post Office. Chan 40.
Estimate HK$ 150,000 - 200,000


Expertisation: signed Roumet handstamped guarantee.

Provenance: E.H. Finegan, Eugene N. Costales (New York), 17-18.10.1949, lot 737
Anna-Lisa and Sven-Eric Beckeman, Sotheby's and Corinphila (Hong Kong), 11.11.1999, lot D33.

THIS IS THE THIRD EARLIEST RECORDED USAGE OF THE NEW CURRENCY SURCHARGES ON COVER.

AMONG THE RAREST AND MOST IMPORTANT OF THE 1897 NEW CURRENCY SURCHARGE COVERS, REPRESENTING THE THIRD EARLIEST USAGE OF THE SURCHARGED ISSUE BY THE CUSTOMS POST DURING JANUARY 1897 (FOUR SUCH COVERS RECORDED WITH THE NEW CURRENCY STAMPS CANCELLED ON THIS DATE), THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD BEFORE THEIR OFFICIAL ISSUE BY THE IMPERIAL POST ON 2 FEBRUARY 1897.

WE RECORD TWELVE COVERS AND A FRONT USED DURING THIS TRANSITIONAL PERIOD BETWEEN EARLY JANUARY AND 1 FEBRUARY 1897. IN ADDITION, THERE ARE TWO COVERS SENT WITHIN CHINA DURING THIS TRANSITIONAL PERIOD, BUT WITH THE NEW CURRENCY SMALL FIGURES SURCHARGES ON DOWAGERS APPLIED AFTER THE OPENING OF THE IMPERIAL POST.

The surcharged stamps were not officially on sale to the public until 2 February 1897. There are, however, a few instances when these stamps were used in January, 1897, on either domestic or incoming foreign mail, all from the Customs Post Office in Shanghai. The covers originating from overseas to northern Chinese ports were subject to a 4 cents per ½ ounce inland postage charge to pay the domestic rate when utilising the winter route, whereas domestic mail was charged at the 2 cents rate.
  Realized HK$345,000
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Lot 77 China, 1897 (4 Apr.) envelope to Shanghai (8.4), showing bilingual "Paid" framed h.s. in blue, matching "Tientsin" origin double-ring d.s. adjacent, with "Shanghai" arrival double-ring d.s. in brown on reverse, flap at back slightly cut down, fine.
Estimate HK$ 8,000 - 10,000


A number of the surviving letters from this period originate from the E. Zurin & Co. commercial correspondence between Tientsin and Shanghai.

Auction Record
Christie's (Hong Kong), 1.11.1995, lot 2580.
  Realized HK$11,500
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Lot 78 China, 1897 (17 Apr.) envelope to Leipzig, Germany (27.5), showing bilingual "Paid" framed h.s. in brown, "Customs/Peking" origin double-ring d.s. in blue adjacent, with France "Chine" 25c. cancelled by "Shang-hai/Chine" c.d.s. (22.4), on reverse "Customs/Shanghai" transit double-ring d.s. (22.4) and Leipzig arrival c.d.s., the envelope is opened out for display and has a light horizontal fold at foot, nevertheless very fine and an early usage of the bilingual "Paid" handstamp from Peking.
Estimate HK$ 10,000 - 12,000


The second earliest recorded usage of the bilingual "Paid" handstamp from Peking. The earliest recorded usage is one day prior, 16 April 1897, on a front from the French Legation in Peking (Berteaux correspondence) to France at the 50c. double rate.

Auction Record
Heinrich Köhler (Wiesbaden), 12.10.1990, lot 5167.
  Realized HK$27,600
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Lot 79 China, 1897 (23 Apr.) printed matter envelope ("H. Seitas & Co./Chefoo" firm's imprint on flap) from Chefoo to the German Consul in Nagasaki (8.5) redirected to Hamburg (11.6) via Yokohama (10.5) and then domestically to Frankfurt (12.6), showing bilingual "Paid" framed h.s. in brown, matching "Chefoo" double-ring origin d.s. on reverse, with "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring transit d.s. (26.4) also in brown, in combination with Japan 1s. cancelled by "Shanghai/I.J.P.O." c.d.s. (27.4), handstruck "NA/T" in circle, then subsequently crossed out on account of the printed matter rate not accepted or the postage deemed insufficient by Japan, and replaced by blue crayon "40" rating for overseas postage, the envelope (opened out for display, central vertical folds) has a truncated lower left corner (in order to reveal contents in accordance with printed matter regulations) and is reduced at left upon opening. An interesting and unusual usage, and a rare example of the bilingual "Paid" handstamp used at Chefoo.
Estimate HK$ 25,000 - 30,000


ONLY FOUR EXAMPLES OF THE BILINGUAL "PAID" HANDSTAMP ARE RECORDED FROM CHEFOO.
  Realized HK$29,900
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Lot 80 China, 1897 (8 Aug.) registered envelope from the German Legation in Peking to Hong Kong (20.8) via the Imperial Post in Shanghai (16.8), showing bilingual "Paid" framed h.s. in brown, matching "Customs/Peking" origin dollar dater and unframed "R" h.s. alongside, with "Shanghai" transit dollar dater and "Hong Kong/F" arrival c.d.s. on reverse, very fine.
Estimate HK$ 15,000 - 20,000
  Realized HK$29,900
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Lot 81 China, 1897 (1 Oct.) "Consulat de France à Tientsin" corner card envelope (opened out sideways for display) to Peking (2.10), showing bilingual "Paid" framed h.s. in brown, matching "Tientsin" origin dollar dater alongside, with "Peking" arrival dollar dater in blue on reverse, vertical fold on reverse, from the Berteaux correspondence, very fine.
Estimate HK$ 8,000 - 10,000
  Realized HK$11,500
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Lot 82 China, 1898 (10 Jan.) envelope to the Director of the Great Northern Telegraph Co. & the Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. in Shanghai (19.1), showing bilingual "Paid" framed h.s. in brown, matching "Tientsin" origin dollar daters of "10 Jan 98" and "14 Jan 98" alongside, with "Shanghai/Local Post" arrival c.d.s. on reverse, fine despite a few small cover faults. A very late usage of the bilingual "Paid" handstamp.
Estimate HK$ 20,000 - 25,000


References: Directorate General of Posts, Ministry of Communications. The Revenue Surcharges China 1897, Vol. I, p. 292.
Benjamin Y.K. Hwa, "Pay-Cash Covers", Journal of Chinese Philately, No. 337 (Vol. 49, No. 2), December, 2001, p. 53.
Jeffrey Schneider, "The Transition from the Customs Post to the Imperial Post, 1896 (Dec.)-1898 (Jan.). A Survey of the Provisional Postage 'Paid' Markings", Asian Philatelist (R.P.S.L.: Suzhou, 2010), p. 61.

THE LATEST RECORDED DATE OF USE OF THE BILINGUAL "PAID" HANDSTAMP FOR PEKING AND TIENTSIN.

According to Imperial Post Office Circulars No. 4 of 14.12.1897 and No. 5, the "Paid" handstamps, as well as the Customs Mail Matter handstamps, were to be withdrawn from use on 31 December 1897; however, the appropriate circular concluded by stating that the post office should be lenient in the early days when it came to strict enforcement of the new regulations that all mail must be properly franked by the public, or be treated as Postage Due. Consequently, one encounters usages of the "Paid" handstamps on mail sent from Peking and Tientsin in early January, 1898. The handstamp for Shanghai was also used in a few instances on local mail in 1899.
  Realized HK$80,500
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