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


Second Issue Specimens and Registration Sheets

It is unclear why Specimens of the second issue were prepared.  Full sheets of all the denominations with a specimen overprint are in the British Library and the letter from the Crown Agents sending these to the Colonial Office referring to this is here. An additional set of registration sheets was also provided to the Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum as shown here.

In March 1927 for the H Requisition of April of that year, the GPO ordered an extra 130 sheets of the 50c on deep emerald paper with emerald back “to cover demand from dealers and for registrations, etc. specimens”.  The reason given was that “it will have a different watermark to the last overprint”  This was, as discussed earlier, because the issue of the 50c issued in Requisition F, along with the other denominations on Script CA paper, was printed on the MCA paper previously used. On 5th April 1927, the Crown Agents sent a sheet of this 50c issue, overprinted specimen to the Colonial Office as shown by the letter here. Again, another sheet was provided to the British Museum collection as shown here.

In addition, the GPO retained five sheets of the 2c and 4c November 1927 printing for Requisition I for “registration etc. specimens” of which imprimatur sheets are retained in the British Library and 2 each of the 2c and 4c are in the possession of the British Postal Museum and Archive. The two sheets in the BPMA do not have the Specimen overprint so it appears that one sheet each of the 2c and 4c were overprinted 'Specimen".  Perrin stated that a single copy of the 2c had been reported but this was a typographical error as he meant the 4c.  Only that copy has appeared at auction and examination of the imprimatur sheets at the British Library shows that a couple of the 2c and 4c were removed, which, presumably accounts for this. What is curious, however, is that the Madagascar archive appears to have only contained copies of the 2c and 4c stamps of the second issue, although they were not overprinted. One example of the 2c appeared in the Zurch Asia HK025 auction in April 2013. Questions have been raised however about its authenticity and at present no further information is known.

Second Issue Paper Varieties

Only two paper varieties have been discovered on the Second Issue stamps. One is the Inverse Watermark that was found on the 1922 Requisition F 10 cent blue. There are believed to only be a couple of copies at most of this variety.  In addition, a single mint copy of a 2c value with the watermark inverted appeared in an auction in 1993

Second Issue Printing Varieties

As with the first issue, while some printing varieties appear on both the regular and Hong Kong overprinted issues, due to their being some Requisitions where only stamps to be overprinted were printed, most varieties are unique to the CHINA overprinted issues.  The definitive work on the subject and a study of extraordinary depth, was prepared by Nick Halewood and David Antscherl in 1995.  While this study exhaustively lists the varieties found on the regular Hong Kong issues, most do not appear on the overprinted issues and so cross referencing many of the varieties becomes a challenge.  It is unknown at this time if these varieties even appear on the 'China' overprints but it is possible that they do and so are listed for research purposes. Varieties of the stamps can be categorized by the following tables below.

The Regular Hong Kong Issues have Pillars (12 sets of 4 vertical boxes filled with horizontal lines.  These pillars were originally introduced to prevent the paper sagging of their large empty space but also had the advantage of preventing the fraudulent use of the 12 adhesive-sized interpanneau pieces of watermarked paper. These appear to only exist on the 6c issue of the China overprints.

Large Block Images (huge size and take a long time to load)

NW Pane F Requisition 1c
NW Pane F Requisition 4c Block of 40
NE Cross Gutter Block Row 10 and SE Rows 1-7 F Requisition 1c
NW Pane I Requisition 2c Full Pane of 60
NE Pane 2c Unknown Requisition Second Issue

SE Pane 2c Unknown Requisition Second Issue
SE Pane 4c Requisition I
1c Block of 36 (Unknown Requisition)

Defects of the Crown

Defects of the Crown that have been reported and newly discovered varieties include:

H&A # Webb # Position Image   Notes
HAG1 1 NW 1-1  

HK About 1929 - on 10 cent
Defective crown. Distinquished from No 22 by absence of three small white flecks near the beard. Soon repaired or replaced.

  2 SW 1-3     HK Y to E*
Right jewel of circlet white
  4 SE 1-6     HK Y to E*
Phase I - Orb broken transverseley, the upperhalf coalescing with a damaged cross and the lower with the trasverse line from which it is normally separated. Fifth pearl also deperssed.
Phase II - Cross partly repaired and raised. The orb is complete except for a small gap above. Depressed pearl unaltered.
  5 SE 2-1     HK Y to E*
Two cuts on right diadem on of which may also cut the middle right pearl
  6 NW 2-3   HK M to E*
Left side of orb defective - never corrected. Bar below orb shortened on left. Dot on right eighth scallop usually also present
  10 NE 3-6   HK Y
Three middle pearls on right side crushed together
HAG5 11 NE 3-6   HK Z to E*
Previous defect imperfectly retouched - two inner pearls smaller than others
  12 NE 4-1     HK A* to E*
Thinning of lower part of righ lateral ornament where it joins the circlet.
  13 NE 4-3     HK Y
Tow very distinct white patches about upper part of left margin of circlet
HAG8 14 SW 5-1
HK M to E*
Second right pearl defective or absent. Also left extremity of diadem often thinned or showing break
HAG9 17 SW 6-1   HK A* to D*
A white cross at tip of crown
  19 SE 6-1     HK ?
Heavy impression. Possibly due to insertion of new unit at a sloghtly higher level that the rest of the plate.
HAG14 20 SE 6-2
Gap in center of right arch
Seen on 4c Req I
Not seen on 4c Req F
  21 SW 6-3     HK A* and B*
A streak, sometimes colored but sometimes showing partly white, from left margin of right diadem running almost vertically downwards to nearly level with ear. Sometimes very pronounced, other times scarcely visible. Probably due to a crack in the plate.
HAG10 22 SW 6-4   HK Y 1928 - On 1c, 2c and 4c
Damage to top of crown. Sometimes all pearls at right almost missing, at other times only those at extreme right almost missing. Scallops on uppright part of medallion often almost lacking. THE DAMAGED TOP OF CROWN
HAG10a 23 SW 6-4   HK A to E* - On 1c, 2c and 4c
Previous defect corrected, Distinguished by a white line, covex to right, on right margin of circlet.
  24 SW 6-6     HK A* to E*
Damaged crown known only in retouched state, Cross at top larger than usual and irregular. Curve of diadem not quite regular. A white fleck seems fairly constant just above head.
HAG11 25 SW 6-6   HK ? to E*
Diagonal cut on second right pearl sometimes involving adjacent diadem (a small defect with a long life)
  26 SW 7-1   HK ? to M
Fourth pearl right side almost or quite missing (This image, from Requisition F 4c, shows the beginning of the deterioration of the pearl)
    SE 9-2   Broken crown retouched.
HAG15a 32 SE 9-2 HK G to E*
Previous defect repaired. The crown still shows flaws on Requisition F but is fully repaired by the following Requisition.
HAG6 34 NE 10-1   HK Y
Pearls damaged on right side. Second and third pearls sometimes missing
  35 NE 10-1     HK Z to E*
Previous defect retouched but third right pearl remained slightly raised
  36 SE 10-2     HK Y
Cut on cross above circlet from upper right corner to lower left corner. Also fleck below circlet to right.
  37 SW 10-4    

HK M to E*
White horizontal scratch on flower aove right side of circlet. Usually also a white fleck to left of forehead.

  38 NW 10-6     HK Y to E*
Orb defective on right side and bar below also depressed on right side.
HAG2 3 NW 1-3   MSCA Reg N* Joined Pearls
HAG3   NE 1-6   MSCA Reg E* Defective left pearl.
HAG4   NE 3-5   MSCA Broken right arch.
HAG7 8 SW 2-5   Blurred joined pearls and flower.
HAG16   S? 1-6 MSCA Flattened Cross
Newly positioned at 1-6 (This may be the same as Webb 4)
HAG17       Broken Circlet, right base
HAG18       MSCA Gap in centre of left arch
HAG20       State I; damaged crown top
HAG20a       State II; damaged crown top


Defects of the Portrait

H&A # Webb # Position Image   Notes
HAG54 40 SW 5-3  

Defect on tip of nose, varies a great deal.

  41 SE 6-4  

Small white patch about the center of hair parting
Seen on 4c Req I and Req F
HAG104 42 SW 6-6   HK ? (!923 - 1924)
Resembles puff of smoke coming from mouth and varies in appearance. Has been faked! The Cigarette Flaw was previously reported to appear on all issues of the Script issue Requisition F (including the 50c MCA issue included with that Requistion), and Requisition G. However, examination of the sheets retained by the British Library show that the error - what does it show – note is unclear grrr
HAG104 42 SW 6-6   Cigarette Flaw precursor?
HAG53 43 NW 8-6

2 mm cut on scalp from above head downwards to left.
HAG55 44 SW 8-6 All?
Blank area at root of nose which on well marked specimens encroaches on eyebrow and gives a plain background to left. Retouched, possibly in two states, for a smaller flaw appeared for a time.
  45 All 7-3   All 6c and 25c
Sheets badly printed. Wooly mark about the tip of the nose.
HAG51 39 NW 1-5   MSCA 2mm Horizontal cut on scalp.
HAG56       White Eyelid
HAG57   NW 7-2 White Cheekbone
HAG58       White temple
HAG59     White forehead
HAG61     White Mustache
HAG62       MSCA Nick on eyelid
HAG63       MCCA and MSCA Eyebrow nicked
    NW 5-1   Indented Eyebrow
    NW 7-2     White cheek and dot on eye.  The F Requisition sheet of 1c positions this flaw for the first time.
    ?? ?-6  

White side of nose
    NW 4-1   Cut at right of neck
        Damaged coupe line


Defects of the Medallion

H&A # Webb # Position Image   Notes
  49 SE 4-6    

HK M to E*
Thickened Marginal Line in NE section. Constant for many years and never corrected. Varies in degree.

  50 SW 4-6    

HK Y to E*
Dot or fleck on marginal line by second right scallop (from top).

HAG105 53 SE 7-3
HK ?
A Small cut or fleck on medallion at centre foot. An early defect later corrected.
  55 NW 8-3   HK M to E*?
Cut from inside medallion through scallop 17L.


67 NW 1-1   HK Z to E*
Cut completely dividing R1.
  68 SW 1-1     HK A* and B*
R6 crushed flat. Later retouched, as it does not appear in E*.
  70 SE 1-2    

HK T to B*

HAG156 71 SE 1-3

HK M to B*
(Previously only reported on the multiple crown CA issue, only example known on the script value.)
  81 SW 3-4     HK A* to E*
Line between R17 and R18.
HAG184 82 SW 4-1   HK Y to E*
  84 NW 4-4    

HK A* to E*

HAG177 88 NE 6-1   HK M to E*
L20 and L21.
  89 NE 6-6     HK A* to E*
Oblique line between R17 and R18.
  91 SE 9-4     HK Y
HAG151 92 SW 10-1   HK Y
HAG190 93 SE 10-2   HK A* to E*
HAG189 94 SW 10-6 HK M to A*
HAG100   NW 5-2

Dot level with mouth. (Also Bulge in line at mouth)
Noted on:
1c, Unknown Requisition
4c, Unknown Requisition
HAG101   NW 1-1   Dot above head.
HAG102   SW 2-6   Dot on coupe line.
HAG106       MSCA Nick on medallion line at 12 o'clock.
HAG107       Two white dots at 9 o'clock.
HAG108       Crack in plate at 9 o'clock.

Dot on Medallion line at 3 o'clock.
HAG110       MSCA Defect at right end of coupe line.
HAG111       MCCA Defect on Medallion line at 5:30.
HAG103 51 SW 5-2   Double medallion line.
HAG152   SW 4-1 R2 Damaged with Webb 82.
HAG153   SE 4-6
MSCA China R2-4 Damaged. (Newly positioned)
HAG154 76 NW 2-2 State I R5-6 Damaged .
HAG154a 76 NW 2-2   State II R5-6 damaged.
HAG155   SE 1-1   R5-6 Damaged.
HAG157       MSCA R7 Damaged.
HAG158       MSCA R7-12 Damaged.
HAG159   NW 1-3   MSCA China Req. F R8 Damaged.
HAG160       MSCA R8 Damaged; Webb 70 or 91?
HAG161       MSCA Req.N*? R10-11 damaged.
HAG163       R14 Damaged.
HAG164   NW 9-2   Break between R15-6
Not seen on 1c
HAG165 79 SW 2-6   State I; R17 Damaged
HAG165a 79 SW 2-6   State II; R16-17 Damaged.
HAG166       R17 Damaged.
HAG167 80 NW 2-6   R17-18, l5 damaged.
    NW 2-6   Break between R20 and R21
HAG168 72 NW 1-3   R17-20 Damaged.
HAG169 73 NW 1-4   R17-20 damaged.
HAG170 86 NW 5-5   R16-18, 20 damaged.
Not seen on 1c
HAG171 74 NW 1-5   R19 damaged.
HAG172   NW 6-1

R19 damaged.
Noted on:

1c Unknown Requisition
4c Unknown Requisition

HAG173       R19 damaged.
HAG174       R20 damaged.
HAG175 69 SW 1-1

L21 damaged.
HAG176       L21 damaged.
HAG178       Break Between L20-21
HAG179   SW 2-5   L19-21 damaged.
HAG180       MCCA L19 damaged.
        L19 damaged
        Break between L18 and L19
HAG181   NW 8-3   L18, 21 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c
Not found on 1c
HAG182       L18,21 damaged.
HAG183   NE 1-6   L18 damaged.
HAG185   SW 9-4   L18 damaged with Webb 62.
    NE 4-2   Break betweeen L17 and L18
HAG186 90
NW 7-1
  State I; L17damaged
HAG186a 90

NW 7-1

State II; L17 damaged.
HAG187       L16-20 damaged.
HAG188       L16-17, 19 damaged.
HAG191 46 NW 2-3   Break between L10-11
HAG192       MSCA L8 damaged.
HAG193       L6 Damaged
    S? 1-6   L5 Damaged - new discovery
(Also same as HAG 16)
HAG194       State I; L3-4 damaged.
HAG194a       State II; L3-4 damaged.
HAG195   ?E ?-1   L3-4 damaged.
HAG196   SW 6-4   R6-13 damaged.
HAG197   NW 5-2   R11, 15-22, L15-21 damaged.
HAG198 87 NW 5-6   R16, 19-22, l18-19 damaged.
HAG199   NW 7-5   R17-22 L19-21 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c
HAG200 75 NW 1-6   R18-20, L19-20 damaged. Note right end of coupe line.
HAG201   NW 6-2   R18-22 L17-21 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c
HAG202       R19-20, L18-19 damaged.
HAG203   NW 8-1   R19-21, L17-19 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c
HAG204 85 NW 5-4   R19-22, L16-21 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c
HAG205 83 NW 4-2   R20-21, L19-21 damaged.
HAG206   NW 6-5   R13-22, L18-21 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c
HAG207 78 NW 2-5   R16-22, L12, L16-21 damaged.
HAG208   NW 5-3   R16-19, 21-22, L14-21 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c
HAG209   NW 6-3   R16-22, L15-21 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c
HAG210   NW 6-4   R16-22, L15-21 damaged.
Not found on Req F 4c

Defects of the Duty Plate

H&A # Webb # Position Image   Notes
HAG370 57 NW 1-3

All - 25c Script
NE floral design defective. Three different shades. Scarce on China/HK. The Broken Flower.

  58 NE 1-4     All - 1c Script, possibly MCA
Crack in top frame line above N of Hong.
    SW 3-5   6c only F Requisition and only on partial of that requisition
Joined Leg
HAG360 60 NE 3-6   All - 20c
One leaf from NE floral design almost missing. Small but constant defect.
  61 NE 8-5    

HK ? to U* - 5c
Top of lower right Chinese character shortened.

HAG290 62 SW 9-4 HK ? - 4c Script
Top of lower Chinese character at right broken. SG120(b), The Broken Kong.
This does not appear on the sheet of Requisition I
  63 SW 9-4   4c Script, Repaired Broken Kong - appears on both F and I requisitions.
  65 All     1919-1938 - 25c MCA
Above corrected in new duty plate without the short stroke. More oval c in CENTS and tails of both 2's more curved.
HAG250   NE 1-4   MSCA Req W - 1c Value
Break in top outer frame line at right.
HAG251       1c Value
Blob below character 'Cent'
HAG260 66 NE 1-6   MSCA Req. F* - 2c Value
Vertical Scratch through top right flower and right stamen to NW of right value tablet.
HAG261 59 NE 2-6 MSCA Req. F* - 2c Value
V vertical scratch through top right flower and bottom frame line to SW of right value tablet (Webb 66)
HAG264       2c Value
Nick on outside of left inner frame line just below character 'Two' and break in top of character 'Cents'
HAG262   NE 3-6   MSCA Req. F* - 2c Value
Vertical scratch through top right flower.
HAG263   NE 4-6 MSCA Req F* - 2c Value
Vertical scratch through top right flower.
    NE 5-6   Vertical scratch through top right flower.
HAG300   NE 2-6   MSCA Req. G* - 5c Value
State I; right outer frame line damaged opposite character 'Kong'.
HAG300a   NE 2-6   MSCA Req. P* - 5c Value
State II; right outer frame line damaged opposite character 'Kong'
HAG300b   NE 2-6   MSCA Req. Q* - 5c Value
State III; right outer frame line damaged opposite character 'Kong'.
HAG301   NE 3-6   MSCA - 5c Value
Characters 'Hong' and 'Kong' both nicked at top right.
HAG302       MSCA - 5c Value
Nick on outside of right inner frame line opposite character 'Kong'.
HAG303       MSCA - 5c Value
Scratch through bottom outer frame line , 'N' of 'Cents' etc.
    SE 2-6   Thinned inner frame line|
        Frame break upper left
        50c Printing flaw

Second Issue Stamp Booklet

As discussed earlier, no other examples of the stamp booklets have been seen other than the one below sold in the Spink 11/2003 auction. (other than an empty cover that was auctioned in 2009).  The example below contains only a single 2 cent stamp.