Hong Kong Philatelic
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by Charles Chan


Most of the present datestamps of Hong Kong are made of metal (usually named as “steel chop”), nevertheless certain are made of rubber or similar soft materials. For examples, rectangular parcel post datestamp, datestamps of philatelic post offices, first day issues special postmarking, commemorative and special postmarking ….., etc. However early postmarking stamps of Hong Kong and of the Treaty Ports were mostly made of metal with the following exceptions :-


Webb Type P1 : “F & L P P, HONG KONG” (Foreign & Local Parcels Post) c.d.s.


This was a 25mm c.d.s. made of rubber and was the most earliest official postmarking for parcels post using between 1902 and 1906. It appearred on adhesives of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, usually in violet or violet-blue, also few known in black.

Early examples revealed it had a smooth round shape but later examples showed wavy circumference and thus damaged. Rubber is not a satisfactory material for manufacturing postmarking stamp as it is not durable. Rubber could be deformed and crack after long time of use or chemical reaction with ink. However its elasticity could give a clear impression on uneven surface of parcels where “steel chop” could not. This might be the reason for using rubber to manufacture this parcel post datestamp in early days and the rectangular parcel post datestamps using nowadays may also follow this tradition.


Webb Type A : Oval “LIU KUNG TAU POST OFFICE” Datestamp


This was a 41mm x 30mm oval datestamp made of rubber, using between 1899 and 1901. It usually appearred in violet or violet-blue. Liu Kung Tau is located at northern part of Shantung Peninsula and was leased to Britain in 1898. Usually British Consul would take care of postal service in early days, however early postal service in Liu Kung Tau was organised by a British commercial firm Cornabe & Sons.

Till September 1899, British had established its post office at Liu Kung Tau under the administration of PMG Hong Kong, a further post office was established at nearby Port Edward in April 1904.

Most of company chops are made of rubber and of oval shape but postmarking stamp in oval shape and made in rubber would be very unusual. This oval rubber datestamp might be unique in Hong Kong postal history. I suspect that this was a postmark made by Cornabe & Sons in accordance with general tradition of commercial firm using oval shape and rubber while Cornabe & Sons was responsible to handle the postal service of Liu Kung Tau. However due to unknown reason, it was not bought into use and later had transferred to the Liu Kung Tau Post Office newly established by the British in 1899.


Webb Type F : Rectangular “PORT EDWARD, WEI-HAI-WEI” Datestamp


This was a 28mm x 19mm rectangular datestamp, using between 1904 and 1908. It usually appearred on KEVII adhesives (issued since January 1903) and thus was scarce on QV adhesives. It usually appearred in violet or violet-blue, however black is also known (see Spink auction in Hong Kong, November 1998, lot 727) but is considered rare. Col. Webb had mentioned that it was locally made but did not mention it was made of what materials. I have compared certain examples of different stages and found that early examples were of clear impression.

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However from 1905, the left and right side frame lines were bend towards the centre, examples of 1906 even showed letters and frame were much thicker than before (see illustration).

If it was a metal chop and was sufferring from continuous use and pressure, uneven force would result in the left frame line bend outward instead of inward. Same situation would be applied to right frame line. However later examples had showed that both left and right frame lines were bend inward to the centre, the only explanation is that this was a rubber chop where the rubber was deformed and constricted due to long time of use and chemical reaction with ink. Moreover it would be less probable for all letters and frame lines of steel chop being thickened for just using two years or else, but rubber would.

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