Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Like many of the other colonial powers of the time, Italy maintained spheres of influence in China (in Peking and Tientsin), and issued stamps for its offices in China from 1917 through 1921. All of Italy's Offices in China stamps cataloguing $20 and higher are scarce to extremely rare, and are possibly the most undervalued of all of the Offices in China stamps issued by the various countries. Quantities issued are not known, but I would estimate that those stamps presently cataloging $20 or more were probably issued in quantities of under 100 for the rarest to the low thousands for the most common.
These stamps have been largely overlooked for several reasons. Firstly, fake overprints exist for many of the higher values, making expertization necessary, and therefore rendering purchase of the lesser stamps as investments impractical, due to the cost of expertization. Secondly, because of their scarcity, these stamps are rarely offered, and they are often poorly centered or in inferior condition when they are. Thirdly, like other Offices in China stamps, they have been spurned by the Chinese market, because many Chinese view them as shameful relics of imperialistic subjugation.
Nevertheless, I feel that time is on the investor's side when it comes to better Offices in China stamps, because of rising demand among collectors in their home countries, and because I believe that eventually these stamps will be viewed within China as important artifacts of a tragic period of foreign encroachment, which the Chinese people survived and overcame.