ASG Certifies Rare Sheet of 1953 China Military Stamps

Posted on 3/1/2022

Because these stamps were quickly recalled and destroyed after being issued, only a small number survive today.

Many of the world’s most sought after stamps owe their rare status to printing errors. The USA 1918 Inverted Jenny and Swedish 1855 Treskilling Yellow are two commonly known examples of those types of rare stamps. The China 1953 800 Yuan Military Postage Stamp is free of any misprints, but earns a place among the most valuable Chinese stamps due to a different type of oversight.

Authenticated Stamp Guaranty™ (ASG®) is honored to have graded a sheet of eight purple China 1953 800 Yuan Military Postage Stamps. ASG experts authenticated the sheet and graded it ASG VF/XF 85 Mint OP. The VF/XF 85 grade is awarded to stamps with obviously misaligned margins and light handling, including small blemishes. The Mint OP classification indicates that the stamps have never been used and were not issued with gum.

Click image to enlarge.

An error in judgment

Issued just four years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the 1953 Military Stamps were meant for the exclusive use of soldiers on active duty. The value of the stamp is 800 Yuan, which was the equivalent of one US cent, but they were given to soldiers free of charge. While the stamps, which were issued by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, were meant to give favored treatment to soldiers, Chinese military officials quickly determined the move to be an error in judgment.

As the stamps were used exclusively by the military, they made it easy to identify mail that was being sent by military personnel and that could include sensitive military information. Chinese officials wisely reasoned that mail bearing the stamps could be targeted by those wishing to obtain military secrets. Thus, they quickly recalled and destroyed the stamps, with only a small number of them surviving.

The design featured on the face of the stamp shows the emblem of The People’s Liberation Army, which includes a red star bordered in yellow and marked with the date of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. A golden band made of sheaves of rice encircles the star. Lettering on the stamp shows its value as well as designating it “Military Post.”

Color by number

While three distinct versions of the stamp were issued, the only variation in design was a change to the color of the field on which the emblem and markings appear. The three colors used in the different versions are yellow, purple and blue. The blue version of the stamp is considered more valuable because it was the last version to be issued. Thus when the stamps were recalled, the blue version was in circulation for a shorter period of time.

The fact that the stamps graded by ASG were retained as an intact block of eight greatly increases their rarity, especially considering that the stamps were issued to soldiers each month in sets of two.

This fascinating block of stamps is now encapsulated in an ASG Sheet Holder, which can accommodate entire sheets of stamps measuring up to 116 mm in height by 156.5 mm in width. The holder, which was developed by ASG in cooperation with He Zi She, provides crystal-clear viewing with museum-quality materials.

ASG offers a variety of stamp holder sizes, including those designed to fit standard, oversize, and midsize stamps, as well as sheets of stamps. All of ASG’s holders are engineered for long-term preservation and contain numerous security features, including an advanced hologram. More information on grading services can be found at

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