The Best Stamps from Beijing’s Incredible Stamp Museum (including 3-D North Korean stamps!)

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, here are my six top favorite collections from Beijing’s wonderful stamp and post museum…. Sorry for the spoiler above. But it’s just… too weird.

6. Table Tennis
What’s there not to love about table tennis?  Mao adored it, so did Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai.  Plus, there’s always the game to thank for opening those relations between east and west.  (Actually, I guess you could thank ping pong diplomacy for my even being here!)  You even occasionally find tables sitting hidden in the hutongs, the Chinese version of a basketball hoop in a car park, waiting for locals to walk up with their paddles and start a game.  Thus, a lovely trio of stamps dedicated to the popular sport.

1959 – 25th World Table Tennis Championships

1971 – Afro-Asian Table Tennis Friendship Invitational Tournament

1971 – Afro-Asian Table Tennis Friendship Invitational Tournament

5. Reforms and Opening Up, plus Scientific Knowledge
After the horrors of the cultural revolution, the closing of universities, the bizarre damning of education, a bright light shone on China in Reforms & Opening Up.  “I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat. It’s a good cat as long as it catches mice,” said Deng Xiaoping, and these great stamps, from three separate series, all show off China’s (then) newfound love for industry, technology, and the future.

9/13/1980 – Exhibition of People’s Republic of China

1979 – Loving Scientific Knowledge from a Small Age

1984 – 35th Founding of the People’s Republic of China – Springtime of Scientific Knowledge

4. Swimming
Basketball (oddly missing from the stamps) is China’s favorite team sport. Table tennis is the favorite one-on-one sport. But when it comes to solo exercise, I’d bet it’s all about the swimming.  Not competitive, but for the love of China.  See the movie “Girl Divers,” where girls dive for Chinese Socialism.  And don’t miss my good friend Ginger’s wonderful article on swimsuit fashion in China.  These two gorgeous stamps were released on the 10th anniversary of Mao’s famous final swim in the Yangtze River (at age 73!)  “However hard the wind blows and the waves hit,” he wrote in a poem about it, “I feel like I’m taking a casual walk in a peaceful courtyard.”  Lovely.  Here they are.


7/16/1976 –
Be tempered in big rivers and seas.

7/16/1976 –
Cross the Yangtze River



3. Post Conference
What was the first national postal conference? I can’t tell you. All I know is it was in 1950, and this is one of the most beautiful stamps in the museum. It was designed, apparently, by Sun Chuanzhe. (I found one for sale for US$200.) The caption read something along the lines of “Postbox, means of transportation reach the map,” which makes sense given the train, the ship, the map, and the pillar box. Just lovely.

2. Mao
Could I really leave Mao out of my favorite stamps from the museum? Surprisingly, there were very few, but this jaw-dropping 1948 beauty really caught my eye.  The caption reads something like “Mao in the East China liberated area.” It reminds me of some comic book artist’s studies, maybe R. Crumb’s?…

And the prize for the best stamp set at the China National Post and Postage Stamp Museum doesn’t actually go to a Chinese stamp at all. It’s a series we almost missed, that caught my eye from across the hall as we were walking out. “Is that a 3D stamp,” I cried. It was. One of those old-school 3Ds, where from one angle you see a boat, and from another angle you see Donald Duck. Except this was different. This was from North Korea. And it was in tribute of Prince Charles, Lady Diana, and newborn Prince William. I’m serious. NORTH KOREAN STAMPS TRIBUTING PRINCE WILLIAM’S BIRTH, IN 3D?

They were accompanied by a caption stretching to two paragraphs — far more than any other stamp — which was entirely about the technology of these stamps.  Not at all about the weirdness of North Korea releasing stamps devoted to Prince William.

They were released on October 1st, 1982, which was 3 months after he was born, but right on the mark for my 10th birthday and the 33rd birthday of the People’s Republic of China. I can find nothing on the internet about these puppies, but… well, they do exist.  [Talking to my dad, the legendary stamp collector, he was less surprised.  “Every country releases stamps like these, to make some money.”  Hrm.  It’s still damn weird.]

[I’m sorry the quality isn’t great. Shooting in low light through plexiglas was bad enough for most of these, but then 3-D as well? Oh, man. They were absolutely jaw-dropping gorgeous. These pix don’t do justice. You need to go, and see them yourself.]

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 / , ,

3 Responses to The Best Stamps from Beijing’s Incredible Stamp Museum (including 3-D North Korean stamps!)

  1. southerndysfunction says:

    Just when I think life can't get weirder, you go and find North Korean stamps commemorating Prince William. I wonder if they will release something for the Big Wedding next month. Keep me 'posted.' sorry.

  2. Dean Pickles says:

    They'll surely throw a parade, or at least have 75,000 children dancing in synchronized formation… I hope!

  3. Pingback: 22 Awesome Table Tennis Stamps |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *