History in Miniature: The 150th Anniversary of Stamp Issuance in Hong Kong
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The Birth of Hong Kong Stamps

The arrival of British expeditionary forces in China raised the curtain on the first Opium War in June 1840. By its end, China had been defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking, through which Hong Kong Island was formally ceded to Britain in August 1842. Just one month before the war broke out, the world’s very first stamps were issued in Britain.

Even before the Treaty of Nanking was signed, the British army had already occupied Hong Kong Island in early 1841 and established a colonial administration. Although the Hong Kong government set up the island’s first post office in November 1841, no stamps were issued, and postmarks were instead used to certify payment of the postage. When Sir Hercules Robinson, the fifth governor of Hong Kong, proposed introducing British stamps to the colony in 1860, the British Colonial Office granted his administration the right to issue stamps. The first set of Hong Kong’s definitive stamps was issued on 8 December 1862 in seven denominations ranging from 2 cents to 96 cents. They were initially printed on paper without a watermark and bore the head portrait of the British sovereign, Queen Victoria, and the word HONGKONG and the denomination, both in Chinese and English. Similar in design to British stamps of that time, Hong Kong stamps could be purchased and used not only locally, but also in treaty ports in the mainland China and Japan.


  • The second General Post Office