Empress Dowager’s Birthday Commemorative Issue
At November 7, 1894 (the 10th day of the 10th month of the 20th year of Emperor Kuang Hsu), on the occasion of the 60th birthday of Empress Dowager, which also happened to be the 50th anniversary of the opening of trade between China and foreign countries, commemorative stamps were issued in nine denominations, through the recommendation of Sir Robert Hart, Inspector General of Imperial Customs concurrently in charge of the Postal Service. Six of these were printed in small design and three in large design, all drawn by R.A. de Villard, a member of the Customs staff. All the designs symbolized good fortune and prosperity. This is the first set of Commemorative Issue in China and based on the letter of Sir Robert Hart to Henry Kopsch dated August 17, 1894 (the 17th day of the 7th month of the 20th year of Emperor Kuang Hsu). They should be engraved and printed in Japan, but shifted back to Shanghai due to Sino-Japanese War. For reasons of delaying, these stamps could not be released on the exact day of birthday of Empress Dowager. From existed cancel-to-order whole set of stamps with 9 denominations, the date is November 19, 1894.