Today in Postal History


China to Germany
April 20, 1908

This cover is appealing to collectors since
it includes seven different stamps all of a different color.
Sending mail using as many different stamps as possible
was a popular practice in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries.
It was sent from China (the 6 English datestamps are
illegible to me) to Warmbrunn (?), Schlesien (Silesia), Germany.
It was routed Via Siberia.

The stamps are "Chinese Imperial Post."
The issue of 1905 is represented by the 2c. green, 5c. violet,
10c. ultramarine,  and the 16c. olive green (Scott 124, 127, 129, and 130).
The 1900 issue is represented by the 1c. ocher, 4c. orange brown,
and the 20c. red brown (Scott 111, 113, and 117).

Note:*  The significance of the red band occasioned
an interesting discussion of its meaning on the eBay Stamps Board.
The following is an edited comment of Sam Chiu, an expert on Chinese covers:

 ". . . In Chinese lore the color red is the most lucky color and the color used for celebrations.  So one always wants to send or receive good news rather than bad.  Initially, an "envelope" in Chinese mail before 1900 was a wrapper of white-ish native paper (chlorine was not used to bleach paper white).  The wrapper was folded in a way that the joint meets in the center.  Then a narrow strip of paper dyed red - the lucky color - was used to seal along the center. The red strip covered the entire length and even folded over at the ends to seal the top to the bottom on the back of the cover. The red band was used as a sealer out of necessity.  By 1900, this evolved to an upright envelope (Chinese write from top to bottom).  A replica of the red strip was now printed where the strip was used to seal the the wrapper.  Only the top is open. It was a case where manufacturing technology caught up with needs, but the custom of "a red band" remains and is still much in demand.  Hence a red band cover."  This cover has a preprinted red band.

*Our special thanks go to both Mr. Chiu for the answer
and to Vic who posed the original question and ferreted out this very nice answer from Mr. Chiu.

Thanks, too, to contributors Jim W-S, Paul, and, especially, to Dan
who provided essentially the same explanation of the significance of the red band.


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Pastnotes Index - The First 300 and the Next 208
provides more tidbits about stamps and collectors.

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