Paper Heritage - China:
Unit Stamps of China 1949 and later surcharges

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The stamps of China are a difficult area for railway philatelists for several reasons. Firstly, the Chinese characters do not allow simple identification of the locality for which the stamps were issued. Secondly, there are many regional and local issues, some of which are given full catalogue status in one major catalogue, whilst being excluded from another. Finally, many railway catalogues do not illustrate enough of the stamps for a thematic collector to be able to identify the stamps with any certainty.

I have already written an article on the Junk & Train design of 1913- , and I am continuing here with the small, orange 'Unit' stamps. I suppose my final task might be the 'transport revenues' but that is a major undertaking and one for which I do not currently have access to all the images that I would like.

These so-called 'Unit' issues were first introduced in May 1949 for the parts of China still under the control of the (Nationalist) Government of Chiang Kai-shek. They were undenominated, a useful method of issuing stamps in a period of high inflation. One value was for Ordinary Postage (it shows our locomotive), one value for airmail (an aircraft, in green), one value for Express Delivery (a motorbike, in magenta) and the last value for Registered Post (a mountain range, in red). I have used the sign (-) to indicate 'no value indicated' on the stamp. Except for some very rare local / provincial overprints at the bottom of the article, the stamps have all been illustrated, which I am sure will prove to be a great help!

The listing starts with the mainstream issues, found in most of the major catalogues. These are followed by the Nationalist local overprints. Although the Fukien overprint is perhaps rather more than a local overprint in status, I have included it in this section. The Nationalist postal authorities, in true bureaucratic tradition even in the midst of civil war, applied these overprints progressively as they were pushed back by the Communists, led by Mao Tse Tung.

The Communists also applied overprints as they advanced and these too are listed below. They are extremely scarce; some are great rarities. I would guess that fewer than ten copies may exist of some of them, but that is purely personal speculation.

The stamps are simply scanned in order and described below ( or beside ) each group of stamps, giving the areas for which they were issued and also their face value, if a surcharge was applied as well. Please note that the scans include all the perforations issued to my knowledge, and that, quite frequently, a regional overprint was applied only to one stamp, either the perforated or the rouletted. Overprint colour is BLACK, except where shown otherwise in illustrations, or where indicated in the text. Check boxes have been provided, ' [ . ] ' , should you wish to print out this list and use it for reference.

In describing the different areas and regions, there has been a marked change in recent years in the way that Western languages transcribe Chinese. I have decided to follow the most recent SG catalogue for the spelling of these areas but readers should be aware that there may be several variations in the spelling of Chinese geographical locations, both in other stamp catalogues and in other Western publications. Even SG uses different spellings within its catalogue for issues from the same area but under different governments.

For ease of reading, I shall arrange these issues into THREE groups:
A. 'Mainstream Issues' generally listed in the four main World Catalogues ( Mi, Sct, SG, Yvert) including regionals and Taiwan.
B. Nationalist Government Local Overprints.
C. Communist Government Local Overprints.

A. Mainstream Issues .

1949 Unit Stamps

Above:
1. [ . ] China (National Issue) : 1949 (May 2) : (-) Perf 12 (SG 1211A)
2. [ . ] China (National issue) : 1949 (July) : (-) Rouletted (SG 1211B)
3. [ . ] China (Kansu, Nigshia & Tsinghai Provinces only,
(a nationalist area) : (-) (Perf 12) (SG 1223)
I believe, but confirmation is required please, that all the other stamps listed below, other than those for Taiwan, were issued by the Communist authorities.
4. [ . ] South China ( Swatow ) : 1949 : (-) (Rouletted) opt is in red. (SG CC188)
Note: SG number both Central and South China with CC numbers. SG CC188 was issued at Shantou (formerly Swatow). See also illustration below.
China Swatow Transposed South China, Swatow, var.Columns of opt. chars. transposed.

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1949 Unit Stamps

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1. [ . ] North-West China - Shaanxi Province : 1949 (June 13) : (-) (Perf 12) (SG NW46)
2. [ . ] North-West China - Gansu, Ningxia & Qinghai Provinces : 1949 (Sept) : (-) (Rouletted) (SG NW62)
3. [ . ] .... ditto - but Overprint Double (NW62a)
4. [ . ] .... ditto - but Perf 12 - a Forgery

Note: To assist those trying to cross-reference to other catalogues, SG NW46 was issued at Xian and SG NW62/a at Lanzhou

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1949 Unit Stamps

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1. [ . ] North-West China - Xinjiang Province : 1949 (Sept) : (-) (Perf 12) (SG NW90)
2. [ . ] .... ditto - brackets omitted (SG NW90a)
3. [ . ] South-West China - Yunnan Province : 1950 : (14 Feb) : (-) Perf 12 (SG SW56)
4. [ . ] South-West China - Yunnan Province : 1950 : (14 Feb) : (-) Rouletted (SG SW57)
Note: To assist those trying to cross-reference to other catalogues,SG NW90/a were issued at Dihua and SG SW56/57 at Kunming.

1949 Unit Stamps

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1. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1950 (Mar) : $500 / (-) Perf 12 (SG 1424)
2. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1950 (Mar) : $500 / (-) Perf 14 (SG 1424a)
3. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1950 (Mar) : $800 / (-) Perf 12 (SG 1425)
4. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1950 (Mar) : $800 / (-) Perf 14 (SG 1425a)

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1949 Unit Stamps

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1. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1950 (Mar) : $1000 / (-) Perf 12 (SG 1426)
2. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1950 (Mar) : $1000 / (-) Perf 14 (SG 1426a)
3. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1950 (Jun) : $800 / (-) Rouletted (SG 1430)
4. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1951 (May 2) : $25 / (-) Perf 12 (SG 1502)

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1949 Unit Stamps

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1. [ . ] People's Republic of China(PRC) : 1951 (May 2) : $25 / (-) Rouletted (SG 1506)

TAIWAN, island republic created by the Nationalists, after the Communists gained control of the mainland.
2. [ . ] Taiwan (Republic of China, also known as Formosa) : 1949 (Oct 16) : (-) (Rouletted) (SG 86)
3. [ . ] Taiwan (Republic of China, also known as Formosa) : 1956 (Feb 10) : 20c / (-) (Rouletted) (SG 224)
4. [ . ] Taiwan (Republic of China, also known as Formosa) : 1958 (Dec 11) : 20c / (-) (Rouletted) (SG 304)

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B. Nationalist Government Local Issues .

There are numerous local or provincial overprints on the Train Unit issue, produced by the postal authorities under the Nationalist Government, and I am deeply indebted to Bill Weinberger for the vast majority of the listing below, which has been arranged as follows:

1 Three examples in large format, identified by province / locality.

2. A scan of 29 overprints ( one of them a repeat of the Nan Chi overprint, shown in large format immediately above ), followed by their description in order ( by row, left to right ).

3. A listing, without illustrations, of 19 further Nationalist overprints, reported by Bill Weinberger, but, in some cases, yet to be seen by him in person.

4. Two further overprints, this time on cover.

Most of these overprints are scarce, some are genuinely rare. If you can add new ones, of stamps issued for postal purposes, or provide illustrations where they are lacking, this would be very welcome indeed.

PERFORATIONS: Unless otherwise indicated below, the illustrated stamps are Perf 12. However, it may be that some of them exist both Perf 12 and rouletted. I have no information on perforation for the unillustrated stamps.

1949 Unit Stamp Fukien China Foochow 1949 Unit Stamp Szechwan .

Scan Above Left : c.1949 : Foochow City / Fukien Province : (-) Perf 12 ( Reported also to exist Rouletted, confirmation required)
Above Centre: [ . ] Foochow / Fukien again, but with additional violet overprint ( see footnote ).
Above Right: [ . ] c.1949 : Szechwan ( handstamped for Nan Chi ) : (-) Perf 12

Note on Double Opt ( black and violet ) above. I am informed that the postal authorities demonetised the original stamp ( without overprint ). The first revalidation overprint was 2 black characters. The reason for the second overprint may well have been to protect postal revenue, after the Communists had occupied part of Fukien province. Looting of stocks is common during revolutions and civil wars. It seems probable, therefore, that the stamps with the two overprints would have been in use for only a short period in a limited part of the territory.

1949 Unit Stamp 29 Locals

Row 1
[ . ] Chia-Chiang
[ . ] Chi-Chiang
[ . ] Fu-Shun
[ . ] I-Pin
[ . ] Kan-Ting
[ . ] Kwang-Han
[ . ] Loin-Hsien
[ . ] Mou-Dong

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Row 2
[ . ] Na-Chiang (type 1)
[ . ] Na-Chiang (type 2)
[ . ] Nan-Chi
[ . ] Nan-Ping-Chen
[ . ] Pai-Sha ROULETTED
[ . ] Pei-Ling
[ . ] Shi-Chiao-Chen
[ . ] Shui-Ning ROULETTED

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Row 3
[ . ] Soong-Peng
[ . ] Ta-Chu
[ . ] Tai-Ho-Chen
[ . ] Tek-Yang
[ . ] ?-Tze (first character not deciperable)
[ . ] Tzu-Liu-Ching (type 1)
[ . ] Tzu-Liu-Ching (type 2)
[ . ] Tzu-Liu-Ching (type 3)

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Row 4
[ . ] Tzu-Liu-Ching (type 4)
[ . ] Wu-Tung-Chiau (type1)
[ . ] Wu-Tung-Chiau (type 2)
[ . ] Yu-Shan-Chen
[ . ] Yung-Chuan

The further 19 reported Nationalist overprints, no illustrations available, are from the following:
[ . ] Chang-Ming
[ . ] Chang-Shou
[ . ] Chang-Shou
[ . ] Chiu-Chi-Chang
[ . ] Da-Ho-Chen
[ . ] Hsin-Kai-szu

[ . ] I-Pin ( black chop )
[ . ] Lang-Chung
[ . ] Lei-Po
[ . ] Mei-Shan
[ . ] Mien-Yang
[ . ] Shi-Chiao
[ . ] Tin-Hai

[ . ] Tsin-Shan
[ . ] Tung-Liang ( black chop )
[ . ] Tung-Liang ( red chop )
[ . ] Wu-Chin-Chung ( type 1 )
[ . ] Wu-Chin-Chung ( type 2 )
[ . ] Yu-Bin
[ . ] Yung-On-Chang

1949 Unit Stamp Covers .

Covers ( Nationalist Government - additional locations to those in the lists above ):
[ . ] Left: Chiang-Chin - ( two character grey-black opt )
[ . ] Right: (East Szechwan) Chiang Peh - ( four character red overprint - hard to discern in the scan)

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C. Communist Government Local Issues .

China Li-Lin .

[ . ]( above ): Central China Li-Lin ( Yang LCC24 )

China Long-Xi .

[ . ]( above ): East China Long-Xi ( Yang ELC47 )

China Hop-Pu .

[ . ]( above ): South China Hop-Pu ( Yang SLC1, rare stamp. 4 Large Red characters, just visible )

China South-West Lo-Shan .

[ . ]( above): South-West China Lo-Shan ( Train stamp is Yang LSW 15; the overprint is in BLUE ). The overprint is easier to discern on the other stamp.

China Nai-Kiang .

[ . ]( above ): South-West China Nai-Kiang ( Yang LSW 36 )

China  Southwest Si-Chang .

[ . ] (above ): South-West China Si-Chang ( Yang LSW 54 )

China Su-Ning .

[ . ]( above ): South-West China Su-Ning ( Yang LSW 11 )

China  South-West Tai-Kiang .

[ . ] (above ): South-West China Tai-Kiang ( Yang LSW 65 ) Image of overprint only.

China South-West Ta-Wen-Chen .

[ . ] (above ): South-West China Ta-Wen-Chen but on Sun-Yat-sen issue. The train unit stamp exists with the same overprint, as Yang LSW 32. There are apparently TWO types of this overprint.

There is one further stamp for which no scan is available:

[ . ] Southwest China Mian-Ning ( Omitted by Yang in error )

End of Listing. .

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