Cover with rare Chinese stamp to fetch HK$6m
A cover with a rare $2 stamp on it is expected to fetch up to HK$6 million in an auction this Sunday.
The Chinese stamp is one of only 50 issued with an image of the Peking Hall of Classics mistakenly inverted.
While between 40 and 50 of the stamps have been found, only one cover has been found with the stamp used on it which is why it is so valuable, Neill Granger, a stamp specialist with auctioneer Spink, said.
"It was a mistake by the printers," he said.
"When they printed it they put it in upside down."
The story of the $2 stamp went back to when the Republic of China was founded in 1912.
The government needed to issue a new set of stamps and asked one of the best printers of engraved stamps at that time, Waterlow and Sons in Britain, to produce the new set.
But the first world war broke out soon afterwards and so an identical set of engravings were made in Beijing in 1914.
The printers made a mistake and printed the stamp upside down.
Granger said it is not the first time this cover has been sold.
In 1995 it went for about HK$500,000.
Apart from the cover, one of the stamps will also be auctioned on Sunday and it is expected to fetch up to HK$1 million.
Granger said the value of a stamp was determined mostly by its rarity and its condition.
A stamp of which few were issued would not necessarily be valuable unless it was kept properly.
Granger also said the growing affluence of mainlanders had increased the value of Chinese stamps in recent years.
"People in mainland China have suddenly got a lot more money and stamp collecting has become a popular hobby," he said, adding that mainlanders who bought stamps were usually collectors, not speculators.