Saturday, September 12, 2009
In 1937, Japan invaded China and began the Second Sino-Japanese War, which eventually became subsumed within World War II. The Japanese had earlier invaded Manchuria in 1931, converting it into the puppet state of Manchukuo. During the course of the war, the Japanese slaughtered between 10 and 20 million Chinese, most of whom were civilians.
In 1942, the U.S. issued a 5c stamp in support of Chinese resistance to Japanese aggression, picturing Abraham Lincoln and Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Chinese Republic. The stamp (Scott #906) had a printing of 21,272,000, somewhat modest for a U.S. issue. In my opinion, the best means of focusing on it is to accumulate F-VF+ NH plate blocks and First Day Covers.
Since one plate block was produced per sheet of 50 stamps, there was an initial quantity of about 425,000 of them, of which we may reasonably assume that 95%-98% were used as postage or otherwise broken up, degraded, or destroyed, leaving a remaining collectable quantity of 8,000-20,000. The 2009 Brookman Catalog Value for an F-VF NH plate block is $14.00, and as interest in the stamp has heated up a bit lately, expect to pay full catalog or close to it for a plate block in F-VF NH condition.
As to the FDCs, about 169,000 were produced. Brookman catalogs the FDC at $12.00, but it may frequently be had for considerably less, especially if the FDC bears a common cachet, such as Artcraft (by far the most common), Anderson, House of Farnam, Ioor, or Fidelity. Nevertheless, it is worth paying a premium for the scarcer cachets, especially if the designs are attractive. The market for U.S. FDCs has been stagnant over the last decade or so, providing an excellent opportunity to pick up these FDCs for a song.
The burgeoning market for Chinese stamps has begun to influence stamps thematically related to Chinese history and culture issued by other countries. The 1942 Chinese Resistance stamp was the first such produced by the U.S., and pictured one of the most celebrated figures of recent Chinese history. It is a truly historic issue, produced during a time of desperate struggle that was pivotal to the foundation of the People's Republic.