(1909) Temple of Heaven - Hsuan Tung First Year Commemorative

The first and only Commemorative issue - Special Commemoration Stamps - September 8 1909      Designer and engraver unknown (some book gave the credit to American technician L. J. Hatch). Printed by Waterlow & Sons Limited, London. The printing methods used was Line-engraving (Recess printing), in two colors and unwatermarked.


Double registered cover from Chungking to Hankow. TH (Temple of Heaven) 3c horizontal pair and vertical pair, TH 7c vertical pair (total 26c) canceled by Chungking Bilingual Dater on Nov. 24, 1909. Chungking Bilingual Port "R" mark. Arrival Hankow Bilingual Dater of Dec. 8, 1909.

Registered cover from Peking to Germany.   TH 2c, TH 3c, TH 7c, CIP 1c and 7c (total 20c) canceled by Peking Bilingual Dater on April 11, 1910. peking Port "R" mark.

On the back unclear arrival Munich CDS.

Registered cover from Shanghai to Switzerland.   Shanghai Port "R" mark.

On the back TH 2c horizontal pair, TH 3c and 3c vertical pair, TH 7c (total 20c) canceled by Shanghai Bilingual Dater on July 22, 1911. Arrival St. Fiden CDS of Aug. 7, 1911.

Registered cover from Hankow to Switzerland. TH 3c x 2 and TH 7c x 2 canceled by Hankow Bilingual Dater on Jan. 25, 1910. Hankow Port "R" mark, "Registered" mark and "R" label of German office? "Via Siberia" mark.

On the back arrival St. Gallen CDS of Feb. 15, 1911.

Postal card from Tientsin to Belgium.   CIP Postal Stationery - 4th Issue 1c, TH 2c vertical pair canceled by Tientsin Bilingual Dater on Aug. 4, 1911. Transit Tientsin French P.O. CDS of Aug. 4, 1911. Two "Via Siberia" hand-stamp strikes. Arrival Brussels CDS of Aug. 11, 1911.

"Via Suez" and "Via Siberia" mail routes

"During early periods, vessels sailing from England to China had to go around the Cape of Good Hope of Africa, and used to take as long as four to six months to get there. Since the completion of the construction of the Suez Canal and its opening in October of 1869, this Sino-England mail route via Suez cut transit time to 40 or 60 days. Furthermore, after the "Via Siberia" mail route was put in use in October of 1903, the time was cut even shorter to three weeks for a letter to reach any country in Europe.

From "Via Suez" to "Via Siberia", these remarkable changes of the mail route for East-West communication were very vital improvements of mail transportation in Postal History... ...

1) Via Suez Mail Route
Carried on normally.

Russo-Japanese War declared, mail transportation between East and West had to shifted to "Via Suez" as the "Via Siberia" route closed... ...
2) Via Siberia Mail Route

An announcement was made by the government of the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railroad and international mail route via Siberia was officially opened for use.
As the Russo-Japanese War was declared, the mail route via Siberia had to be closed.
May 1907
The Siberian Mail Route resumed in operation... ...

... ...

As for the indication of VIA SIBERIA on used covers it is ver rarely seen. The reason is that as the 19th century correspondence sent through the post office were very few and hardly ever collected by philatelist... ..."

Extracted from A Concise Catalogue of Postal Cancellation of China (1872 - 1949) by Paul Ke-Shing Chang, page 508-511.