There is little doubt that the Mei Lan-Fang stamps are some of the philatelic jewels of China. Issued in 1962, the set of 8 stamps and the souvenir sheet continue to push the prices year after year to the point that they are no longer affordable for the average collectors.
In 2012, I observed this set of stamps being offered in eBay with great amazement. A set of 8 imperforate mint stamps were offered for auction and sold for a staggering US$1,500. I wrote an article about it in my old blogspot here.
Now, barely 4 years later, the price for the set of stamps soared yet again. This time I was looking at a set of used imperforate stamps which was sold at a jaw-dropping price of US$2,143.80 after 47 bids! Another set of similar mint stamps (normal perforated issue) offered by the same seller was sold for US$1,324 after 44 bids.
Now if we can do a rough math, the increase in price within 4 years on the stamp issue is about 40%, conforming to the previously held projection that high value China stamps increase in value by at least 10% every year.
Mei Lan-Fang stamps
The Mei Lan-Fang stamps were issued in 1962 at a time when China was still relatively poor and that collecting stamps was still viewed as an extravagant hobby and was discouraged by the communist China.
Mei Lan-Fang was one of the most famous Peking opera artists in modern China history, exclusively known for his female role. Upon his death in August 8, 1961, the country mourned his demise and commemorated a special stamp issue the following year.
Before Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, it was illegal to import China stamps into the US. However, even at a time when collecting stamps was frowned upon, the Mei Lan-Fang stamps were already the key stamps in the PRC philately. With only 20,000 stamps issued, the stamps are definitely rare in the context of 20 millions Chinese collectors worldwide.
Such rarity attracts not only the collectors but also the investors, pushing the already expensive price even further. As for me, I suppose I can only look and admire the beauty and artwork of these stamps in a distance as I am unlikely to spend my US$2,000 on this set of stamps. Not that I have an extra US$2,000 to begin with anyway 🙂
Further Reading: The market outlook on China stamps