Beijing red letter day: rare stamp from USCultural Revolution era sells for $2 million at auction

  • Pristine Big Patch of Red stamp from 1968 one of nine left
  • Vintage Communist Party propaganda is big business
PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 6:13pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 9:45pm

A Chinese postal stamp dating from the Cultural Revolution has been auctioned off for 13.8 million yuan (US$2 million), making it one of the most expensive stamps in the world.

Nicknamed Big Patch of Red by stamp collectors, the unused 1968 stamp was sold by auction house China Guardian in Beijing on Thursday.

There are only nine such stamps, and this example was said to be in pristine condition, news site Thepaper.cn said on Friday.

It is the most expensive stamp yet to have sold in China, beating the 2012 record sale of 7.3 million yuan set by another Big Patch of Red stamp. No details are known about the successful bidder.

The stamp shows revolutionary workers marching with Mao’s “little red book”, and features Communist slogans such as “All mountains and rivers across the country are a sea of red”, and “Long live the total victory of the Cultural Revolution without the bourgeoisie”.

Similar revolutionary-era stamps such as Little Patch of Red are also very valuable, according to an unnamed stamp expert quoted by Thepaper.cn. There are 300 of those stamps in existence which can fetch up to 1 million yuan each at auction.

Vintage Communist Party propaganda items are prized by Chinese antiques collectors, despite the government’s tight controls on any media reporting or public discussion surrounding the events of the Cultural Revolution.

At the time, the Communist Party built a personality cult around Mao Zedong, so items of memorabilia linked to him are very valuable.

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However, the sale price Big Patch of Red falls far short of other rare stamps sold around the world in recent years.

One from colonial British Guiana fetched US$9.5 million at auction in 2014, taking the world record for the most expensive stamp. It is the sole survivor of a batch that was printed in 1856.

The Treskilling Yellow, a rare misprinted Swedish stamp, was sold for the equivalent of US$2.9 million in 1996. It is also the only specimen in existence.