The Red Revenue Stamps are Qing dynasty Chinese revenue stamps that were overprinted to be used as postage stamps in 1897.
In January 1896, the Guangxu Emperor had petitioned to issue revenue stamps. The revenue stamps were ordered from England, out of which only a portion of the 3 cents stamps was printed and shipped to China.
Further, on March 20, 1896, the Qing government approved the plan to establish a national postal service. At the inauguration of the postal service, the Coiling Dragon stamps ordered from Japan failed to arrive on time. Hence, the previously stored 3 cents Red Revenue stamps were overprinted to meet the demand.
Among the overprinted stamps, the $1 was made first. However, because of complaints about the small size of the overprinted Chinese characters, only two panes (each with 25 stamps) were made before they were changed to larger characters.
This is how the "Small One Dollar" stamps have become some of the most valuable stamps in the world. Only 32 are known to exist.
The red symbolizes good luck and fortune in Chinese tradition. A mint example of the $1 on 3c was sold in 2010 for HK$5.5 million (US$710,000) and is today catalogued by Stanley Gibbons at £800,000.
No wonder this stamp brought so much of luck and fortune!
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