The Hong Kong 'China' Overprints
British Offices In China 1917 - 1930


The area of postal rates in use during the time period is fascinating as few records exist. The following table has been constructed from a number of sources to ascertain the rates during the period.  As Wei Hai Wei (Port Edward and Liu Kung Tau) were colonies, their rates were slightly different from those of the other Treaty Ports.  The 5 cent rate from the Treaty Ports is controversial but I believe that the number of examples I have both seen and obtained conclusively proves that this rate existed.


Local Postcard Rate

Overseas Postcard Rate

Agency to Agency and Hong Kong


UK, British Possessions and Egypt






First Weight Amounts

Succeeding Weight Amounts

First Weight Amount

Succeeding Weight Amounts



1c (All)

4c (All)

4c/20g (Ports)

4c/20g (All)

4c/oz (WHW)  10c/20g (Ports)

4c/oz (WHW) 6c/20g (Ports)

10c/6c (All)

15 Feb 1918

1 ½c (All)







? Jan 22 - 30 Nov 22


6c (Ports)



10c/20g (Ports)

5c/20g (Ports)

10c/5c (Ports)

1 Oct 22

3c (Ports)







15 Jan 1923

2c (WHW)







1923 (WHW)


4c (WHW)






Other Fees and rates:

Printed Matter/Newspaper                                2c                  
Registered Letter                                            10c     
AR Fee                                                           10c
Certificate of Posting (Unregistered)                1c
Certificate of Posting (Registered)                    2c
Registration Receipt (Is this the same as the Cert of Posting above?) 2c (?)

Canton to Macau and Hong Kong                  2c per ½ oz
Other Agencies to Macau                               4c per ½ oz
Shanghai to Ningpo                                       3c per 20g

Certainly at the beginning, this corresponded to the rate from the UK of 2 ½ pence per first ounce and 1 ½ pence for each additional ounce.

Parcel post is believed to be $2.25 for 5lbs, although other sources have listed it at $0.10 per pound with a 10c special handling fee.

Certain of these rates we know for sure due to the stamp booklet back as shown:

Unfortunately, there remain a number of questions:

1. Is it correct that the AR fee was paid at 10c by the stamp on the AR document and other than the AR marking on the cover, is not otherwise identifiable?

2. There seem to be covers with an additional 1c and 2c in postage. This seems to only be explainable by a certificate of posting rate. Does the 1c unregistered and 2c registered rates make sense?

3. Is the Registration receipt shown the same as the certificate of posting for the registered letter or is this something else entirely?
(This linked Registered Mail Receipt dated August 15, 1922, matches the cover shown in the Tientsin section under Agencies.)

4. The start date of the 6c rate is unknown, although I believe it was the 18th or 19th of Jan 1922 from the Ports (not Wei Hai Wei, which remained at 4c). Cards exist as follows:

4c Rate

Jan 9 Amoy to USA
Jan 30 Shanghai to Siam

6c Rate

Jan 27 Shanghai to UK (4c with circular "T" and 1 1/2d Postage Due)
Apr 22 Shanghai to UK
Oct 30 Shanghai to UK

In the meantime, this seems as good a place as any to start trying to find the largest known multiples, largest dollar values known on cover or piece etc.

This piece is currently believed to be the largest dollar amount used on piece or cover at $13.48.

This piece is believed to be the largest known used multiple of the 1c.