Hong Kong auction hopes to cash in on stamp craze

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The trading of rare stamps has become a major trend in China as cashed-up investors looks to expand their interests following rough times in the property and stock markets.

And that's music to the ears of the Hong Kong-based Zurich Asia auction house, which is hosting what the company says is its largest-ever sale under the banner "Stamps and Postal History of China, Hong Kong, India and other Countries" from August 13 to 15 at Hong Kong's Excelsior hotel.

Total value of the more than 3,000 lots on offer is in excess of HK$25 million (3.2 million euros), according to the company.

"The strong results and record prices we have achieved in our recent Hong Kong sales aptly testify to the robust stamps market in Asia, where the strength and demand of collectors continue to grow," said Louis Mangin, director of Zurich Asia, in a statement announcing the auction.

A great deal of the action is expected to come from across the border in China - although international bidders can join in via email, fax and telephone - with the focus expected to center on two rare items in particular: a complete sheet of 80 "Golden Monkey" stamps and a 1968 "The Whole Country is Red" 8 fen (cent) mint stamp. Both items are expected to attract bids of more than HK$1 million (130,000 euros).

China's two largest online stamp exchanges have been reporting unprecedented sales growth in recent months as interest in the trade continues to grow.

According to reports in mainland Chinese media, the country's largest such site - www.xx007.com - has seen prices for most items double in the past month alone, while another large sales site - www.yp001.com - recently set an all-time single-day record for trade with turnover topping 20 million yuan (three million euro-).

China is also preparing to host 27th Asian International Stamp Exhibition, which will be hosted by the city of Wuxi in the eastern Jiangsu province between November 11 and 15.