History in Miniature: The 150th Anniversary of Stamp Issuance in Hong Kong
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Definitive Stamps before and after the Handover (Part 1)

After the Sino-British Joint Declaration was signed in 1984, Hong Kong entered a transitional period. With effect from 1 July 1997, Hong Kong postage stamps bearing signs of British sovereignty, such as the Royal Cypher, the portrait of the British sovereign or the crown, would no longer be valid for the prepayment of postage.

Before the handover, definitive stamps with Queen Elizabeth’s portrait were withdrawn from general sale at the close of business on 25 January 1997, and a new set of definitive stamps featuring Hong Kong’s coastline was issued to replace them the following day. Carrying no connotations of sovereignty, these stamps could continue to be used after the handover. The first series of definitive stamps after Hong Kong was returned to China, bearing the identifier HONG KONG, CHINA, was issued in October 1999. Depicting famous landmarks and scenery in Hong Kong, these stamps used optically variable ink, a special ink that displays two different colours depending on the angle from which the stamp is viewed.


  • 1997 Hong Kong definitive stamps: 10 cents

  • 1997 Hong Kong definitive stamps: 20 cents

  • 1997 Hong Kong definitive stamps: 50 cents

  • 1997 Hong Kong definitive stamps: 1 dollar