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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Stamp Investment Tip: Kiauchau

"Kiauchau" is not something that you say when you sneeze, but a former German colony.

Germany came late to the colonialism game, but nevertheless spent the last decade of the 19th century enthusiastically pursuing the goal of extending the "benefits of German civilization" to peoples who did not yet possess warships, artillery, carbines, or machine guns.

Not to be outdone by the other major powers which had successfully obtained spheres of influence in China, Germany seized Kiauchau (also spelled "Kiautschou"), a district on south side of the Shantung Peninsula, in 1897, in order to facilitate its participation in the "China Trade", which largely consisted on polluting the Middle Kingdom with opium and draining it of gold.

German Offices in China stamps were used in the new colony from 1898 until the Kiauchau's first stamps were issued in 1900. Germany issued 42 stamps for its colony between 1900 and 1909, most of which pictured the Kaiser's Yacht designs common among German colonies stamps. The rarest and most valuable are among the colony's first stamps- the overprinted and surcharged German Offices in China stamps called the Tsingtau Issues, some of which catalog in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars. The better Tsingtau stamps should be purchased conditional on obtaining expertization.

I favor all of the stamps of Kiauchau as long-term investments. As with all stamps issued by the colonial powers in China, these stamps have been neglected because the Chinese view them as shameful relics of that period of subjugation, which they are. Until reticence replaces resentment and demand for Kiauchau is boosted among Chinese collectors, the stamps' values will probably continue to increase steadily based on collector demand in Germany.

Those interested in becoming part of an international community of stamp collectors, dealers, and investors are welcome to join the "Stampselectors" group and organization pages at Facebook. These host lively discussions concerning stamp investment and practical aspects of collecting, and are excellent venues for those who wish to buy, sell, or trade stamps.

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