Two interesting covers related to the first CPA Chairman –

Mr. Chan Kong Fung and a trip down Memory Lane (Part One)

Home Home   Daniel C.N. Chan, USA

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A recent visit to the CPA’s web page and reading the CPA’s 50th Anniversary publication gave me the idea to write this article. I was reading about the CPA history on both the web site and the 50th Anniversary book and how those pictures jolted my memory! My uncle is the late Mr. Chan Kong Fung, the first Chairman of CPA when it was established in 1946. My father is Mr. Chan Kong Chuen, one of the association’s long time member and officer. (Figure 1)

 I participated in a lot of events organized by CPA as a child and recognized the names of many of the founding members from the web site and the book. (Figure 2) They had all given me stamps, coins or other trinkets when I was visiting them with my father. Naturally, I started collecting stamps when I was young, but I was never serious about it. May be part of the reason was that stamps were too easy to come by and I never treasured them. However. I still have the two junior stamp albums that I started around 1960s. I collected those “pretty” stamps from Hungary and other eastern bloc countries, which have very little value today. If only I had started on China or Hong Kong at that age! 


Figure 1. My father (first from left), Mr. Chan Kong Chuen, probably discussing CPA affairs with Mr. Lee, Mr. Siu and another officer.


Figure 2. There I was, speaking at a CPA gathering at a very young age. It could have been one of the Mother’s Day Celebrations, which I remembered fondly.

 I came to the United States to further my studies in dentistry in the early 80s. To the chagrin of my father, I subsequently stayed and started a family here. There was a period during my advanced dental training that I was kind of bored with studying. So I took up stamp collecting again as a hobby, this time becoming more serious and trying to concentrate on Hong Kong stamps and postal history. 

 Being trained as a scientist, I immediately started to gather information systematically about Hong Kong stamps.  I joined the American Philatelic Society, the Chinese Stamp Society and the Hong Kong Study Circle and started to subscribe to several philatelic journals. I had my hands on the Hong Kong Postal History ‘Bible’ published by Webb. During the course of information gathering, I came across two interesting Hong Kong postal history covers in the English philatelic literature. I recognized the name of my uncle and the family business, Man Chung Tai. Only then did I realize our family’s long time connection to CPA and Hong Kong postal history. The web site and the CPA’s 50th Anniversary publication filled in a lot of the gaps in my memory and reacquainted me with many of the founding members who were so kind to me many years ago.

Figure 3 is an illustration of a genuine commercial cover of April 1942, from Hong Kong to Macau, via Canton, bearing a Japanese adhesive, cancelled Hong Kong in Japanese characters. The letter was from my uncle to Mr. Mak, a stamp dealer and ardent supporter of CPA. This cover was an illustration in an article written by Ralph Johnson entitled ”Postal History of Hong Kong 1941-1945” which appeared in Stamps, Vol. 130 March 13, 1965.

 Figure 4 is a typhoon cover which was published in “The Odd and Unusual” in Western Stamp Collector April 16, 1949 p4. The article is summarized as follows: “The illustration …reproduces part of a “typhoon” cover which Charles MacDonough of Philadelphia received from a correspondent in Hong Kong. Several months ago, W Dennis Way’s London letter told how a near-typhoon isolated Hong Kong from the mainland several hours on Sept 3, 1948. The official who had the keys to the post office safe was unable to reach the office and clerks there has no stamps as a consequence. To meet the emergency the clerks were authorized to collect postage in cash and mark the letters “postage paid” as is shown…Mr. McDonough’s correspondent says that three different “chops” bearing the numbers 3,4 and 5 were used during the emergency. The number 3 illustrated here is said to be the best…” Since the letter was addressed to my uncle, could it be possible that he was Mr. MacDonough’s correspondent in Hong Kong?


Figure 3


Figure 4

 Aside from the covers that was illustrated, I was able to secure a “Hong Kong –1945-Postage Paid” cover in the late 80s addressed to my uncle. Unfortunately, I did not keep a copy of the cover after I forwarded it to my father. I wonder if it is still in his hands? May be some day later we can include that in an update of this article.

 Throughout my search of Hong Kong postal history in the last two decades, I also came cross a lot of First Day Covers serviced by my father. One can still see some examples of it in the wonderful article on Hong Kong FDC published the CPA’s 50th Anniversary publication. One of my luckier find was the first very first CPA FDC, CP1 designed by Mr. Siu and associates. I discovered later CP1 was rather rare and much sought after by Hong Kong collectors since only 600 were printed. That cover was also forwarded to my father. Occasionally, I can still find postal history covers related to my uncle and my father in stamp auctions and lately on the Internet portal, eBay.  More often than not, they are part of a large collection and frequently beyond my means to acquire them.

 One hears a lot about the knowledge one will learn from collecting stamps. In addition to that, my personal experience through stamp collecting has been reconnection with my family members and their past contribution to the advancement of philately in Hong Kong. I find that experience very rewarding. My plan is to continue the search and pass on the same enthusiasm to my two young boys. Hopefully, the family tradition will go on.


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