lot # 70 - 2: China Customs Mail Matter, Transitional Period and Imperial Post
China, 1896 (15 Dec.) envelope to Peking (4.1.97) bearing Dowager Empress 3ca. orange-yellow (2, one misperforated at foot), cancelled by "Customs/Shanghai" double-ring d.s. and showing "I.G. of Customs/Peking" double-ring arrival d.s. on reverse, fine and rare northbound envelope from the Berteaux correspondence carried on what is probably the first day of the winter overland route for the 1896-97 season.
Estimate HK$ 50,000 - 60,000
Provenance: Huang Ming-Jeng, Interasia (Hong Kong), 15.12.2012, lot 159.
This envelope apparently establishes the precise date for the opening of the 1896-97 winter overland service, in terms of letters which originated in the south (northbound mail). There also is an 1896 (11 Dec.) Hong Kong 4c. postal stationery card from Hong Kong to the Imperial Maritime Customs at Peking, which transited the Shanghai Customs Post on 15 December and arrived in Peking on 4 January 1897 (Customs Dater, p. 198). Similarly, there is a 17 December 1896 envelope from the French Consulate in Shanghai to Mr. Berteaux at the French Legation in Peking bearing Dowager 1ca. (3) + 12ca., which also arrived at the Customs Post Office in Peking on 4 January 1897 (Tony Kwan, Vol. I, p. 419). Interestingly, all three examples of the mail matter cited herein have the same arrival date of 4 January 1897.
This "first day" cover represents a double rate usage (postage 3 candarins x 2 in the old currency = 4 cents x 2 winter rate).
The 1896 Winter Overland Service exemplified the transition between the Customs Post and the Imperial Post, providing an important link between the two. In his recent article published in The China Stamp Society Journal (No. 19), Robert Kong records only two domestic examples (not including the above cover) of mail matter originating in the south, which were carried by the Winter Overland Service. Mail sent before 31 December 1896 was still subject to the regulations of the Customs Post, but from 2 January 1897 the New Currency surcharges were used.
Estimate: HK$ 50,000 - 60,000