Incredible Chinese Stamp Museum (first of two)

I’m not a stamp geek.  My dad is, my nephew is… but to be perfectly honest, I had some low expectations for the Beijing Stamp Museum.  Even with free admission, four floors, over one million stamps, and “for rent” magnifying glasses, Michelle and I were the only visitors.

But I have to admit, this museum is insane.  Michelle literally had to drag me out of there.  I wished I had a tripod.  I wished I had a videocamera.  I could have spent all day in there.  Yes, there’s a lot of trash, but the history of China through stamps?  Unmissable!

So, to spread the philatelic love, here are my 13 favorites in order…. 

13. Sports
China loves its sports.  Mao was determined to prove that China was not the “weak man of Asia,” and you can see this insecurity everywhere in the country.  Billboards, banners, statues of Adonis-esque athletes.  My nearest subway stop is plastered in a glorious mosaic of sportsmen and women.  (My favorite Chinese movies are mostly sports films.)  So it’s not surprising that a bunch of the stamps would focus on sports.

1959 – First National Games
of the People’s Republic of China

1959 – First National Games
of the People’s Republic of China

1980 – 1st Anniversary of China’s return to International Olympic Committee

12. Cultural Revolution
Everyone knows the cultural revolution was a mess, but in the philatelic world, it was still a grand success. I don’t have enough space or time to really go into it, but… well… here are a couple of them.  If you get them, you get them.  If you don’t, check out the wonderful and heartbreaking “Wild Swans” by Jung Chang.

National Conference on
Learning from Daqing in Industry.
“Go All Out for Socialism!”

1974 – Barefoot Doctors

1975 – Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius

11. Yan’an
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1942 publishing of the “Talks at the Yanan Forum on Literature and Art,” where Mao lectured on the content of pure communist art, the Post Office released this great collection, celebrating the model operas of the time.  (These were the only performances deemed acceptable when the stamps were released, in 1972.)  The model operas are great, but these stamps also mark the height of the cultural revolution, when Jiang Qing held the country enthralled in her bizarre and cruel madness.

Sing the Revolutionary Songs

Red Detatchment of Women (?)

Penetrate the Countryside
for the Sake of the Peasants
with the Opera
“The Legend of the Red Lantern”

10. National Anthem
The coolest part of this series — from the very end of the cultural revolution — is that it’s the whole dang national anthem, on stamps! That’s actually incredibly rad.

9. Women’s Day
China (and the world?) loves it’s women every year on March 8th.  (Though, I have to mention that the abbreviation for the date, 三八 (sanba), has come to mean “bitch” in popular tongue…  which I discovered to my horror when I used the term on 3/8, and was later scolded by a coworker.  Yikes.) Anyhow, here are some very cool stamps through commemorating it.




8. Armed Forces, Riots, War, all the fun stuff…
As well as sports and ladies, China does love it’s armed forces and uprisings. (Actually, see the “weak man” section of Sports, above, and the “Vietnam” section below, perhaps.) Here are a couple of other awesome war shots…

1952 – 25th Anniversary
of the founding of the
Chinese People’s Liberation Army

1971 – Centenary of
Parisian proletariat and other workers
holding an armed uprising

1970 – Ready to Severely Punish
the Invading Enemy

7. Vietnam
In propaganda, China was always eager to support it’s uprising socialist brethren, and this powerful 1965 series celebrates the Vietnamese battling the American aggressors. The longer I spend here, the more I read of Chinese perspectives on world history… something that’s no exactly what I was taught when growing up. (like the Korean War) But I was still a little surprised by this cheerful group.


Strike the Agressors




(Something like)
All the populations
of different countries
in support of Vietnam

Tomorrow I’ll update with my six very favorite sets…  including one massive shocker series.

These were all found at the China National Post and Postage Stamp Museum
Building D, No 6 Gongyuan Xijie, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Exit A, Jianguomen Subway

Offbeat Museums / ,

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