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Asia/China : Hong Kong: Fiscal Revenues

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13 Mar 2015
For many many years, Hong Kong revenue (fiscal) stamps were very much 'back of the book' curiosities for most collectors. Over more recent times, as with other countries, these have become ever more sought after.

One influencing factor in the rise in popularity, has been the publication of the British Commonwealth Revenues catalogue by John Barefoot Ltd.

Another factor, in my opinion, is the high quality printing and design of these issues.

The scarcity factor is also a key to their popularity; some issue's denominations are as rare, if not more so, than many high valued regular postage definitives of the colony.

There are numerous types of Hong Kong revenues: Stamp Duty, Bill of Exchange, Contract Note and Receipt etc.

Many of the earlier Stamp Duty types from the reigns of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V, are quite stunning; and like collecting regular postal history, finding these on piece or on a complete document, is the ultimate aim for many.

Generally, revenue stamps have survived far better condition wise, than regular postal definitives. This is undoubtedly due to the function they performed.They didn't undergo the rigours of the postal system but were generally attached to legal documents. These of course were filed away in cabinets for very long periods, rarely seeing the light of day. Consequently they weren't fiddled with by collectors. When eventually they appeared on the market, most ended up at the back of the album because they were not 'de rigueur'.

The following gives an indication of the merits of such revenues:

In October 2013, a very rare Hong Kong Revenue stamp sold for £4,901 (US$ 7,887) on eBay.

The stamp is a KEVII 1903 wmk. Crown CC, P14. 1 cent 'Stamp Duty' revenue.

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It has no catalogue entry, as Barefoot records this as Proof status; with no used copies having been reported. If it were to be listed in the next edition, it would probably be assigned number 50.

It was claimed by the eBay seller that this was actually the second one sold; the first being in 2002. This however must have slipped under the radar. Although it would be difficult to place this in a Commonwealth revenue league of 'highest price paid', this will be close to the top. A South Australian 1 penny revenue holds the all time sale record at $11,650 but this was for an 'inverted centre' variety and not a regular issue.

At the very top of the stamp shown, is the distinctive bottom edge of the 'orange lozenge' 'embossed style' cancellation, in thick almost wax-like ink. Normally, a larger proportion of the lozenge is visible which gives the date the transaction was executed; the day, month, year each in a roundel shown in relief. For example: 15th January 1906:

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14 Mar 2015
re: Hong Kong: Fiscal Revenues

I found this image of a very large Indenture document with three Hong Kong revenues attached. Hopefully it demonstrates how these can be found in such superb condition. This of course is only one of many different types of documents that required revenue usage. I have attempted to enlarge a section of the document but it is does not come out too well:

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