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Questions & Answers

Members of the Hong Kong Study Circle may submit their questions concerning philatelic items of Hong Kong and the Treaty Ports. A clear scan, relevant details and a specific question should be sent to the Webmaster at Answers are welcome from any interested party - member or otherwise.


[Images with blue boarders can be clicked to enlarge them.]


Can anyone identify the source of this obliterator/marking and shed light on who used it? The Straits Settlements six cents stamp is the 1868 Crown CC issue. The two eight cent Hong Kong are from lot 3212 in the Christie Robson Lowe: The George C. Dyer HONG KONG (Part II) auction held in Zurich on 10 April 1985. The first Hong Kong stamp has what is most likely the chop of Bradley & Co

posted: 12 December 2023

Q018: Unidentified Marking on QV Postcard Sent to France in 1897 (Adrian Waynforth)
Hong Kong 1897 QV Postcard with unidentified marking

Does anyone recognise the marking on this QV postcard?

It appears to contain the letters O U C H(?)

posted: 27 May 2023

Q017: Hong Kong and Treaty Ports Stamp Dealers' Mail (Ian Briggs)
Hong Kong Graca & Co Cover

I research and collect pioneer stamp dealer mail globally c.1860-1920. I collect both outgoing and incoming mail.

I have included an image of an example of an outgoing cover from the dealer Graca & Co who operated in Hong Kong from around 1896. This cover is from their later period and dates from 1936.

Whilst I have strong data from other countries, I have almost none from Hong Kong and the Treaty Ports. Early research suggests that there has been little work carried out to date in relation to the pioneer dealers who operated from Hong Kong and the Treaty Ports for the period 1870-1920.

I would like to hear from members if they are aware of any previous studies carried out in this area previously. Also, if any members have any Hong Kong/Treaty Ports stamp dealer covers from the period in question I would love to see a scan of them.

posted: 18 March 2023

Q016: KEVII 1904 $2 Slate and Scarlet Used in Tientsin (Christopher Norton)
Hong Kong KEVII 1904 $2
1904 $2
Slate and Scarlet
Hong Kong KEVII 1907 $2
1907 $2
Carmine-Red and Black

Does anyone possess an example of the 1904 KEVII $2 stamp with a Tientsin c.d.s., i.e. Gibbons Z1011?

Alternatively has anyone seen an example anywhere?

Either way I should be extremely grateful to receive a scan of such an example or further details of its location.

Please note that I do not refer to the 1907 KEVII $2 (Z1023) of which several examples are known with a Tientsin c.d.s.

posted: 16 January 2023

Q015: KGV 1933 12c Purple on Yellow/White Back Overprinted 10 Cents Stamp Duty (Sarah Harvey)
Hong Kong 1933 10 Cents Stamp Duty

KGV 1933 12 Cents Purple/Yellow Overprinted 10 Cents Stamp Duty

It is very hard to find any information about this overprinted stamp, or even a mention. It is listed in the Barefoot Catalogue at least.

The overprint was probably added to requisition J in 1933. Of interest is the fact that the overprint slopes upwards; the right stamp has its overprint higher than the left hand one.

Does anyone have similar? Or different? Or more information?

posted: 19 October 2019
Hong Kong 1933 10 Cents Stamp Duty

Update from Sarah Havey

Further examples have been obtained :

Un-overprinted examples are :
  • from same Requisition J
  • corner stamps as in overprinted block
New overprinted example has :
  • overprint in straight, not sloping as original block
  • has heavier inking than original
It has been suggested that the overprint was applied locally during the late 1930's, using the surplus stamps from requisition J (printed in 1933).

posted: 11 September 2020

Q014:Unidentified Security Marking on KEVII 10c. (Christopher Norton)
Hong Kong Study Circle Q and A  14

KEVII Adhesive with Security Marking of Greek Letters

This is a KEVII 10c. adhesive cancelled Hong Kong 22 JU 05, but tied to a cover with a security marking that our Security Markings Study Group has been unable to identify. This marking is in violet ink and appears to be a circle containing the Greek letters πΔ (Pi Delta). My first thought was that it was a U.S. fraternity or sorority marking but I have been told that no such fraternity/sorority has ever existed. It is on a cover addressed to the U.S.A. ( Mrs. Taite, Los Angeles, California) and the reverse flap shows the logo/imprint of the Hong Kong Club. The suggestion of a Hong Kong Daily Press marking has been rejected as the initials "D P" were in use in 1905. Can anyone identify this security marking?

posted: 16 April 2019

Q013: QV Postal Stationery Card Used in Chile? (Christopher Norton)

Hong Kong 1880 QV Postcard with Chilean Obliterator

These images are of a used QV 1880 issue 1c. postal stationery card. The only killer that fits the partial impression cancelling the indicium and the 1880 date, is C30 used at Valparaiso, Chile. (It is not a P.&O. cancel.) So can anyone suggest the circumstances in which a 1c. Hong Kong postcard addressed to Sydney, Australia was accepted by the Valparaiso post office? If anyone can translate the German message, so much the better .

posted: 20 March 2019

Q012: Can anyone identify this marking? (Christopher Norton)

Hong Kong 1900 QV 2c adhesives with marking of diamond assembly of small squares

Can anyone help with identifying this marking?

Where did it originate from?

Has anyone come across another example of it?

posted: 16 March 2019
A012:  (William Lack)
From William Lack :

Shown here is an image of an Indian stamp with a diamond/lozenge obliterator that matches the image of the one on the 2c Green shown above.

While the stamps in question are separated by 50 +/- years of use - the shape and density of the marks look the same - so maybe India is the location of the cancel - therefore likely to be a form of arrival marking? - looking through eBay's India section I see these markings regularly but annoyingly none are labelled as to location it originates from so maybe it is common knowledge to Indian stamp collectors...

Further comment from Chris Norton :

It is certainly possible that this cancel was brought out of retirement by the Indian Post Office in order to cancel mail that arrived uncancelled. A likely source of uncancelled mail from Hong Kong is that posted on board ship.

posted: 24 April 2019

Q011: Large rubber Hong Kong handstamp (Mrs. Susan Crewe)
Hong Kong Rubber Handstamp

Hong Kong Cover With Rubber Handstamp
Illustrated here is a cover cancelled with a large rubber Hong Kong handstamp dated 24th October 1968

Proud records similar handstamps and says they were used on "small packets" addressed to China. This is a small envelope, which would have contained a letter, addressed to Sweden.

Does anyone have any more information about the use of this handstamp?

posted: 29 January 2018
Hong Kong Rubber Handstmap Cancel

Hong Kong Rubber Handstamp Cancel
Ingo Nessel has proivded another example of this cancel.

This one is dated 30th November 1968 with index 4 and the cover is addressed to USA.
A009: (Ingo Nessel)
Ingo Nessel writes -

I found the reference on these rubber handstamps: A Brief History of Hong Kong Postal Cancellations and Markings, Volume Four, Circular Rubber Handstamps for Hong Kong Postal Use, published jointly by China Philatelic Association and Kongkong Post Stamps in 1998, Chapter One, pages 23 - 30 "Types of Circular Rubber Handstamps and Their Uses".

It contains detailed descriptions of the large variety of cancels types and their intended use. Usage was for 11 different Post Office services or types of mail, the salient ones being (i) As normal datestamps in branch post office counters, when steel datestamps were not available, and (ii) For cancelling small packets to PRC.

However, there is no mention of usage of rubber handstamps on packets or letters to foreign destinations such as Sweden (Susan's example) and the USA (Ingo's example). Due to the scarcity of such markings on general foreign mail, these may have been aberrations. Susan's example looks like a normal airmail letter at the extant $1.30 rate, while Ingo's is a medium size envelope that could have been construed as a small packet, with a $22.00 rate.

Part B of this book contains images of the known Hong Kong rubber handstamps up to 1998, including branch post offices. In the GPO section, page B1 illustrates 2 examples of these handstamps. One is dated 10 Oct 1968 with index 2, the other is 21 Nov 1968 with index 4. Thus Susan's example has an unlisted index "1". Unfortunately, the images are only of the cancels, so we do not know the destination of their covers. They are coded "SP" which infers small packet service to PRC.

Much remains to be explained on this subject. It would be useful if members send scans of any such covers they may have in their collections.
posted: 13 April 2018
Webmaster's Update -

A search through back issues of HKSC Bulletins have found the following -

From Bulletin 183 May 1973 (Editor C.C.Gower)
Cancellations - Hong Kong / Hong Kong
I have just come across what appears to be a hitherto unrecorded and somewhat unusual cancellation. This is obviously a rubber handstamp of 35mm diameter worded in approximately 3mm high letters 'HONG KONG' at the top, 'HONG KONG' at the bottom, the date in a single line across the centre and a numeral centrally above the bottom Hong Kong. Numbers seen are 2 and 3. Both, unfortunatley are 'on piece', although without any doubt taken from covers, in one case cancelling a Q.E.II 5c adhesive and the other a 10c. Dates are 1968.

From Bulletin 184 July 1973
Cancellations - Hong Kong / Hong Kong with numeral central above bottom Hong Kong
Mr. R.E.Hall of Hong Kong advises he has examples of the following numbers:
   3   dated 12 SE 68
   4   6 SE 68
   5   6 SE 68
   6   22 MY 71
whilst Mr. A.E. Chaney of Hong Kong has, on piece:
   2   dated 23 Oct 68
   3   15 Oct 68
   4   10 Dec 68
With the exception of number 6 all the dates so far recorded are in 1968. It would be interesting to know whether any numbers is still in use in 1973 and also was there a number 1 and any other numbers above 6. Numbers 3, 4 and 5 held by Mr. Hall have Registration slips of the same numbers whereas number 6 was on an 'ordinary' cover.

From Bulletin 185 September 1973
Cancellations - Hong Kong / Hong Kong
We express our appreciation of Mr. A.E.Chaney of Hong Kong in ascertaining that this hand c.d.s. has been and is still in use for application on small packets and items with uneven surfaces at the General Post Office Sorting Office. We regret however, that due to a misinterpretation some of the information in Bulletin 184 was incorrect. To 'put the record straight' the numbers recorded to date of this c.d.s. are :- 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. (No. 6 has not yet been reported).

From Bulletin 186 November 1973
Cancellations - Hong Kong / Hong Kong
Mr. E.F. Gee has pointed out that this marking was first reported in Bulletin 154. Apparently originally this marking was used only on official mail, not cancelling adhesives but now is in general use. Mr. Gee also mentions that the original markings differed in size No. 1 being 35mm, whilst numbers 2 and 3 were 38mm. Numbers 1 and 2 also had a double outer circle 1mm apart. The current number 2 definitely has only a single circle and it appears possible that the various cancellers have been replaced as they became worn.

From Bulletin 154 April 1969 (Editor P.C.Pearson)
Official Mail
Recently a new handstamp has appeared on Official Mail. This is a rubber handstamp with a double outer ring 38/35 mm worded HONG KONG at the top and bottom with a figure 1. in the lower half and the date across the centre. Examples have been shown to us by Mr. D.Sellars.
posted: 14 April 2018

Q010: HONG KONG PAID type 14a used as arrival mark in black and blue? (Dr. Andrew Cheung)
Webb recorded type 14 only in red, but Proud p. 400 quoted "occasional use recorded in 1865 and 1870" still no mentioning of colour.

Below are two incoming letters from London
Hong Kong Webb Type 14 Postmark
Hong Kong Study Circle - Question 10 - 1863 Incoming Letter

1. 1863 London to Hong Kong

Hong Kong Study Circle - Question 10 - 1863 Incoming Letter

With HONG KONG PAID type 14a 17-AU-63 (high index C) in black as arrival backstamp.
Hong Kong Study Circle - Question 10 - 1865 Incoming Letter

2. 1865 From Valencia, Spain sent by forwarding agent in London to Hong Kong

Hong Kong Study Circle - Question 10 - 1865 Incoming Letter

With HONG KONG PAID type 14a 7-MY-65 (high index C) in blue as arrival backstamp.
The normal Hong Kong c.d.s. was in the same colour i.e. black in 1863 and blue in 1865 during this period.

Two possiblities exist:-
1. Accidental use by mistake, yes, in 1863, but, in 1865, payment by adhesive stamps on letters had become compulsory and the Hong Kong Paid c.d.s. would have been made redundant (and therefore locked up in the safe).
2. Taken out at busy times due to lack of ordinary datestamps. Proud recorded only 7 Hong Kong c.d.s. datestamps at the time.

Practical point: Each datestamp taken out from the safe everyday needed to be stamped in the day-book and signed by the duty clerk, therefore, it seems unlikely that the clerk took out the wrong datestamp especially in 1865.

Have members seen any HONG KONG PAID c.d.s. type 14, 14a or the new 14b. used this way?

Acknowledgement: The 1863 London-Hong Kong cover belongs to Mr. B.M. Wong.

posted: 27 June 2017

Q009: Why are there different parcel post frankings? (Chris Norton)

Hong Kong Parcel Post Cancel

During the 1950s and early 1960s, three different types of franking were in use concurrently on parcel post items, i.e. Webb Types P5 & P6, plus machine produced labels. Why was this necessary?

Hong Kong Parcel Post Cancel Hong Kong Parcel Post Label

posted: 13 June 2017
A009: (Dr. Andrew Cheung)
What we are seeing here are: -
1. Circular steel Hong Kong Parcel Post c.d.s.
2. Standard British type "rocking horse" rubber parcel post handstamp
3. Postage Paid Parcel label by machine (Hasler?)

The circular steel can be found cancelling stamps on parcels or more often on parcel dispatch cards. The rectangular rubber chop is designed for cancelling large blocks of stamps stuck on heavy parcels received at Parcel Post counter. The gummed postage paid meter label was used for those parcels received at the Parcel Post counter without stamps on.

Even today, the clerk at the Parcel Post counter would either pick up the steel or the rubber Parcel Post chop (nowadays made by Trodat) to cancel stamps affixed on the parcel. Since most senders have no idea of the postage, after weighing, the clerk would print out a label for affixing on the parcel.

There is also a fourth type, also made by Trodat, a rubber c.d.s. used mostly on food parcels to mainland during the Cultural Revolution during mid-60s. Such parcels were sent in cloth bag and stamps affixed on these items could only be adequately cancelled by a rubber handstamp. Upon arrival, after emptying the contents, the recipient would have utilised the cloth to patch up holes in his jacket or using several pieces to make clothing. Even though thousands of such cloth bags were sent, the survival rate of the entire bag is almost zero...hence a huge philatelic rarity...if you come across one.

posted: 27 June 2017

Q008: Can someone identify the red "A" marking? (William Lack)

Hong Kong 1862 8 cents yellow buff struck with a red capital "A" in a lined circle then cancelled B62.

"Attached is an image of a stamp I bought in the past year and have had absolutely no success in finding anything about it. Some thoughts at a HKSC meeting was that it was a maritime cancel from somewhere in the Indian Ocean region."

published: 29 Sept 2014

Q007: Can someone identify this MISSENT TO handstamp? (Frank Young)
Q007 Cover

"In 1998 I received a letter from Hong Kong. The cover was marked with a MISSENT TO JKT 19000 handstamp. There are no markings on the back of the cover.

I presume this marking is the usual MISSENT TO type of marking for mis-directed mail but have been unable to find out where it was missent to."

published: 7 July 2011
A007: (Ron Rakusen)
"I was looking at this one and it seemed obvious that JKT was short for Jakarta in Indonesia.  A search of postcode in Indonesia found the following, which suggests that different parts of Jakarta use the 19xxx postcodes.  On that basis, JKT 19000 would possibly be Jakarta Head Post Office postcode where MISSENT mail goes."

Jakarta » Jakarta Utara
19110 Tanjung Priok
19120 Tanjung Priok
19130 Tanjung Priok

published: 14 July 2011

Q006: Can someone identify the source and authenticity of this “5” overprint? (Robert Hazelwood)
Hong Kong QV 10˘ green CA with "5" overprint
The adhesive also bears an “AMOY” straight line cancel. His literature search has been a failure except for the reference entitled “THE LARGE NUMERALS” at the top of page 147 in Webb.  Also, he has not found anyone who has seen one and is not certain that his example is the same as those mentioned. 

He sent the scan to another HKSC member, who had never seen it before, but referred him to an article on overprints in a HKPS Newsletter.  However, the style of the numeral is entirely different from any covered by that article.  Another HKSC member was puzzled too, but sent him a photocopy of other numeral overprints, all of which differed from his.

published: 14 April 2010
A006: (AIR CDRE R. Gurevitch)
"One of my lesser collecting interests is Cuba and the ‘Puerto Principe’ overprints on Cuban stamps undertaken between December 1898 and January 1899 by the US Military Administration. These overprints were extensively forged. It occurred to me that the overprint on Robert's Hong Kong stamp was remarkably similar to the "5" used in forgeries of the overprint at position 4 on some of the 'Puerto Principe' overprint settings. I scanned Robert’s illustration, a 10˘ green stamp, and a forged 'Puerto Principe' 5˘ stamp. I was able to manipulate the two scans and to superimpose the “5” overprint to ascertain any similarities. The result is shown below.


I have no hesitation in stating that the “5”s appears to be of the same type and hence I consider the "5" on the Hong Kong stamp to also be a forgery."

answer published in Journal No. 354, July 2010


Q005: Can someone identify this cancellation? (John Robertson)

Hong Kong early revenue stamp with a "2" cancel

The stamp is struck twice with the "2" cancel. If this is a genuine cancel, where was it cancelled?  Was someone playing games, and this is a fake?

published: 26 Dec. 2009

Q004: Can someone identify this 'Royal Mail Packet' handstamp? Was it applied on board or not? (Eddie Lawrence)



Italian postcard posted on the River Yangtze with a HK4 cents stamp cancelled at the first port of call (Hankow) with a British Post Office cds. In addition, a Shanghai British transit stamp and a Milan arrival cds were applied to the obverse. There are no marks on the reverse.
The Royal Mail Steam Packet Company cachet was applied on board the ship.

The card caught the P. & O. packet that sailed from Shanghai on February 10 for Colombo, Ceylon arriving on February 25 to be transshipped to the S. S. Arcadia that sailed on the 26th for Egypt, where it was transferred to a Mediterranean vessel for Italy and then overland to Milan. The transit time was 39 days.

published: 16 Jan. 2009
A004: (Lee Scamp)
First, another question:  Is there clear evidence that this card was “posted on the River Yangtze” and “cancelled at the first port of call (Hankow)”, vs having been posted at the Hankow BPO?  The itinerary from Shanghai is as follows:
Q4 reply

Thus, there is no likely reason, at least not one that I can think of, that a “ROYAL MAIL STEAM PACKET COMPANY / SOUTHAMPTON / Posted on high Seas” cachet should have been applied to it.  Note that the 12.3 Brindisi arrival date of the P&O Isis fits very well with the 13.3 Milano cds.

It is hypothetically, although only remotely, possible that this card could have been sent via the Trans-Siberian Railway.  If so, it should have reached London in about 22 to 26 days, so by around 4.3 to 8.3.  Then, it could theoretically have been forwarded via Southampton on an RMS packet to Italy.  If the RMS ran to Italy, it would have taken about 7 days to Marseille, and about another day to Italy.  But why would it not have been sent across the English Channel and via France to Italy, as was all other first class mail?  The only way that it could have received the RMS cachet would have been as a loose letter, but if it had been carried by an RMS packet, it would have been in a mail bag from the London GPO.  Thus, the odds against this routing seem quite astronomical.

answered: May 2014


Q003: Why no registration label? Where was the green hand stamp applied? (Ingo Nessel)
  • This $7.50 rate cover addressed to Germany has a green "REGISTERED" hand stamp, and is cancelled at GPO registration section on October 21, 1971. But there is no registration label.
  • NB: The rate is constructed from the 5 x $1.30 rate per 1/2 oz. = $6.50 to zone 2 (which includes Europe) plus $1.00 registration fee = $7.50 total.

published: 1 July 2008


Q002: Is there any documentation on this 58c airmail rate to China? (Ingo Nessel)
  • Unrecorded rate.
  • It is not mentioned in Halewood or Proud.

published: 1 July 2008
A002: (Nicholas Halewood)
Q002_A_NH_1_t.jpg . QandA/Q002_A_NH_2_t.jpg

This is an example of the surface letter rate/air fee structure that appears to have been in force from early 1946 to 25 July 1946. The air fee, per ˝oz, was 50˘ for China, and $1.00 for Commonwealth and other countries. So this cover bears 8˘ per 1oz surface letter rate plus 50˘ per ˝oz air fee. So to China it was 58˘ for ˝oz, $1.08 for 1oz, $1.66 for 1˝oz, $2.16 for 2oz, etc.; for Commonwealth and other countries it was a little more complicated because although the air fee was the same the surface mail rates were different - Commonwealth countries, 20˘ for first 1oz and 10˘ for each additional 1oz; and other countries, 30˘ for first 1oz and 15˘ for each additional 1oz.

I have no documentary evidence of this rate structure, just cover evidence. Also the cover in question was to Shanghai, so if it went by ship to Shanghai the 50˘ air fee was unnecessary; an  alternative could have been by boat to Canton and  then by air.

answered: 30 August 2008


Q001: Is this a Shanghai censor, or was it censored in Hong Kong? (John Robertson)
  • British censor marking, on Shanghai canceled piece.
  • Oval REGISTERED / JY 30 17 / SHANGHAI. B

published: 23 April 2008
A001: (Ingo Nessel)
A recent eBay lot illustrated a registered cover from Shanghai to Peshawar, India dated April 17, 1917. It contained what looks to be the same censor marking as that of John's example on piece.
A look at the reverse of the cover showed the routing was not via Hong Kong, rather it was probably sent on a sailing directly from Shanghai to an Indian gateway port, either Bombay or Tutticorin as notated on the front of the cover. Thus the censor marking is likely to have been applied at Shanghai, but certainly not at Hong Kong.
answered: 13 December 2009

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