History in Miniature: The 150th Anniversary of Stamp Issuance in Hong Kong
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Hong Kong Stamps before the Second World War

Following the issue of the first definitive sets in 1862, Hong Kong’s stamps basically remained the same for a century, with the only difference being the British sovereign whose head portrait was featured on them. New designs did not appear until 1962.

To address the changes in exchange and postage rates during the reign of Queen Victoria, the Hong Kong government overprinted stamps of existing denominations and released them as surcharged issues. As the highest denomination at that time never exceeded one dollar, the government used fiscal stamps to cope with the demand for stamps for higher postage charges. Stamps in denominations above one dollar were eventually issued during the reign of King Edward VII. With the increase in the exchange rate between the currencies of Hong Kong and China, Hong Kong stamps sold and used in treaty ports in China were overprinted with the word CHINA during the reign of King George V to distinguish them from those used in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s first commemorative stamp was issued in 1891 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the territory’s establishment as a free trade port. The idea had been rushed, however, and the stamps were only overprinted issues of two-cent definitive stamps already in use. More commemorative stamps were issued over 40 years later to celebrate the silver jubilee of King George V in 1935 and the coronation of King George VI in 1937. The design of these stamps was no different from those in other British colonies. To mark the centenary of British rule in 1941, the Hong Kong government once again issued commemorative stamps, but, for the first time, this design was undertaken by a local expatriate.


  • A post box bearing ER VII

  • A post box at the corner in Sheung Wan

  • The third General Post Office (1)

  • The third General Post Office (2)