New edition of Chan catalog is indispensable for collectors



A page from the 2010 edition of the Colour-Illustrated Stamp Catalogue of China (1878-1949) edited by Shiu-Hon Chan.


There is probably no catalog as influential and useful for the marketplace and for specialized collecting of Chinese stamps of the period as the Colour-Illustrated Stamp Catalogue of China (1878-1949) edited by Shiu-Hon Chan.


The 2010 edition, now available, is the first new edition since the landmark edition of 2000.


It continues the tradition with thousands of high-resolution photographs on quality paper, bilingual text in English and Chinese that is easy to follow, and a logical numbering system.


One factor to consider in using the Chan catalog is its publication schedule.  The first edition in 1992 was followed by the revised and expanded edition of 2000.  A decade elapsed between the second edition and the third.  To offset this infrequent publishing schedule, the valuing editors have tried to anticipate the marketplace movements years in advance.


Like its immediate predecessor, the 2010 edition is an exceptional two-volume set containing 898 pages that cover the postage stamps of China from 1878 to 1949.


Besides the imperial Chinese issues and those of the Republic of China, the listings include Chinese provinces, Japanese occupation issues, Shanghai and Treaty Ports stamps, foreign post offices in China, Manchoukuo, and Manchurian local overprints.


For the hardcore specialized collector of China it also covers local overprints, anti-bandit chops, and silver yuan control chops.


The Chan catalog is a fascinating read.  I have yet to meet anyone who’s said he hasn’t learned much from Chan.  I make constant use of it, and rarely does a day pass that I do not consult it.


There are apparently no editorial changes in this new edition aside from value revisions.  It is perplexing that the publisher failed to make the cover of this edition readily distinguishable from the last.  It has identical artwork and colors on the binding.  Only the inscription “Based on the original work of Shiu-Hon Chan, 2010” is different.


Values are in United States dollars.  As with previous editions, the valuing editors have attempted to anticipate a future marketplace.  Collectors using this edition must understand that the values aren’t intended to reflect today’s market.  Thus, material will likely sell for a percentage of Chan catalog value, except  when an elusive item is pursued by a determined buyer.


In today’s market, Shanghai and the Treaty Ports will sell at about 50 percent of Chan catalog value.  Surging demand for China’s Qing Dynasty means that this material is currently selling for up to 80 percent of Chan catalog value.


However, some values increases in the 2010 edition fly in the face of reason.  Increasing the values of the Taiwan Province 1945 Numeral issues (Scott 1-9) by a third does not make sense when they presently sell for half the 2000 Chan catalog value.


The 2010 edition is available in both a boxed two-volume hardbound set and in softcover.


If you collect Chinese stamps of this period, you won’t want to be without this catalog.


Originally published in Linn’s, November 1, 2010





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