Chinese Miniature and Souvenir Sheets

Our current topic focuses on Chinese Miniature and Souvenir Sheets, released between 1955 and 1997.

Let us start with an explanation of what they are:

“These are issued specially for the convenience of philatelists. They are smaller in size than a whole regular sheet but bigger than a single stamp.

Chinese Miniature and Souvenir SheetsThe souvenir sheet is also called “miniature souvenir sheet” or ‘philatelic souvenir sheet’. When a new set of commemorative or special stamp is issued it is printed on a sheet for sale. The first souvenir sheet issued by the Chinese People’s Postal Service was that titled ‘Commemorating the 22th Anniversary of the May 30 Moment’. It was put out by the Northeast General Post and Telegraph Administration in 1947.

The miniature sheet is one printed with one stamp of a commemorative or special set, or one with designs related to the theme of the set. The first miniature sheet issued by China was that titled ‘Ancient Scientists’ issued by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications in 1956.

Souvenir and miniature sheets are generally issued simultaneously with commemorative or special stamps. They are, however, issued not for all commemorative or special sets. They are laced with commemorative words and matching designs. They are sold generally at the original face values, but sometimes they are sold at higher prices. In both cases, they can be used on postage stamps. Even if they are sold higher than their face values, they are still taken at their face values when used, and the extra price cannot be counted in as postage.”

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Market Values

Chinese Miniature and Souvenir Sheets are interesting in a lot of respects. With their vast diversity of subjects, they can be found in most topical collections. they can also constitute a full fledged collecting area in their own right. One that can be started and completed relatively “easily”, with a total catalogue value of just a little more than US$10,000 and no particular expensive variety or error to mention.

Some of these stamps have experienced a dramatic increase in value. The most noticeable in this category is the Stage Art of Mei Lanfang, issued in 1962 with a face value of 3 Yuan, catalogued today at US$ 3,000 for one in very fine condition. LINN’s Stamp News of September 21, 1998 published an article by Michael Rogers, a dealer, specialist in Asian material, which reported that an FDC with this particular stamp was sold for $ 6,250 plus 15 percent buyer’s fee. The FDC was actually mailed to the Netherlands.

I have read in one issue of Chinese Philately about another FDC with the same stamp, which was sent on September 15, 1962 from Beijing to Hamburg. It was part of the collection of a famous China collector, Mrs. Carla Michel-Lodders of Germany.

Money, however is not what we want to bring out by showing these stamps. Some of them are actually quite cheap and catalogue at around a dollar. We want to tell their stories; “read them out loud,” and uncover what they were designed to convey.

In this, we shall be guided by these wise words of Shao Bolin, the Chief Designer of China Stamps issuing Bureau, who wrote in his preface to “A collection of Chinese Stamps 1982 – 1988:

Some people might ask what makes people want to collect these tiny stamps. The answer is in their very small size. Like wingless doves, stamps circulate in society and fly over the international borders. Stamps are high level publications that show the cultural level of a country. they also express the images and hopes of millions of philatelists. With this in mind, stamp workers should prevent cultural poverty and crudeness from appearing on stamps. They should also do their best to provide people with more spiritual products rich in Chinese characteristics and in new cultural styles to promote the development of stamp art.

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View the Stamps

The numbering system for Chinese commemorative stamps may seem quite confusing, at least for certain people. In order to facilitate your navigation, the stamps have been organized by series as follows:


C33 Scientists of Ancient China 1955
C47 Unveiling of the Monument to the People’s Heroes 1958
C50 700th Anniversary of the Works of Kuan Han-ching 1958
C86 World Table-tennis Championships 1961
C94 Stage Art of Mei Lanfang 1962
C106 15th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China 1964


S61 Chinese Peonies 1964


J25 The National Science Conference 1978
J41 31st International Stamp Fair, Riccione 1979
J42 The Postage Stamp Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China in Hong Kong 1979
J43 4th National Games of the People’s Republic of China 1979
J45 30th Anniversary of Founding of the People’s Republic of China (2nd series) – 1979
J85 First Congress of the China Philatelic Federation 1983
J103 The 23rd Olympic Games 1984
J133 120th Anniversary of Dr Sun Yat-Sen 1986
J135 Second All China Philatelic Federation Congress 1986
J150 110th Anniversary of First Chinese Empire Stamps 1988
J162 2540th Anniversary of the Birth of Confucius 1989
J163 40th Anniversary of the Founding of PRC 1989
J172 11th Asian Games – Beijing (Games and Stadiums) 1990
J174 3rd Congress of All China Philatelic Federation 1990
J176 40th Anniversary of Peaceful Liberation of Tibet 1991

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T28 Galloping Horses 1978
T29 Arts and Crafts 1978
T31 Highway Arch Bridge 1978
T37 Camellias of Yunnan 1979
T38 The Great Wall 1979
T41 Study Science from Childhood 1979
T44 Selected Paintings of Qi Baishi 1980
T54 Lotus 1980
T69 Dream of Red Mansions 1981
T72 Medicinal Herbs 1982
T74 Colour Sculptures of the Liao Dynasty 1982
T79 Beneficial Birds 1982
T82 The Romance of the Western Chamber 1983
T88 Terracotta Warriors and Heroes (Cavalry man and Horse) 1983
T89 Chinese Painting of Tang Dynasty – Beauties Wearing Flowers 1984
T99 Peony Pavilion 1984
T103 Mei Flower 1985
T106 Giant Panda 1985
T110 Great White Crane 1986
T111 Magnolias 1986
T116 Dunhuang Cave Murals (1st Series) 1987
T121 Ancient Buildings 1987
T122 Warring States Period (430 BC) Bronze Chinese Bells 1987
T123 Literature: Outlaws of the Marsh 1987
T129 Orchids 1988
T131 Literature: Romance of the Three Kingdoms 1988
T135 Silk Painting from Han Tomb 1989
T144 West Lake in Hangzhou 1989
T151 Bronze Chariots Unearthed from the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang 1989
T162 Azalea 1991
T164 Imperial Summer Resort 1991
T167 Outlaws of the Marsh (3rd Series) 1991

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92-8 The 25th Olympic Games 1992
92-11 The Dunhuang Murals (4th Series) 1992
93-7 Bamboo 1993
93-13 Longmen Grottoes 1993
93-17 The Centenary of the Birth of Comrade Mao Zedong 1993
94-10 Zhaojun’s Marriage to Xiongnu 1994
94-12 Wulingyuan 1994
94-16 The 120th Anniversary of UPU 1994
94-17 Romance of the Three Kingdoms 1994
94-18 Three Gorges of the Yangtze River 1994
94-19 4th Congress of the All China Philatelic Federation 1994
94-21 Pagodas of Ancient China 1994
95-7 43rd World Table Tennis Championships 1995
95-12 Taihu Lake 1995
95-19 International Stamp & Coin Exhibition Beijing 1995
95-19B International Stamp & Coin Exhibition Beijing (imperforated)1995
96-04 Centenary of China Post 1996
96-11 9th Asian International Stamp Exhibition 1996
96-11B 9th Asian International Stamp Exhibition (imperforated) 1996
96-20 The Dunhuang Murals (6th series) 1996
96-26 Shanghai’s Pudong 1996
97-10 HK’s Return to the Motherland 1997
97-10B HK’s Return to the Motherland (Gold) 1997
97-13 Stone Carving of Shoushang 1997
97-15 8th National Games of PRC 1997
97-16 Mount Huangshan 1997
97-21 Outlaws of the Marsh (5th series) 1997

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PJZ 1-8 PJZ Stamps from 1995


R24 China National Philatelic Exhibition ’89

From: Chinese Stamps,
Compiled by Wu Hanming.