Ai Li-shan


The postal surcharge label of the Xianning District of Hubei province is especially interesting.  To my knowledge this is the only surcharge label issued to coincide with the issue of a postage stamp.  In this case, the Bamboo set issued on  June 15, 1993. 




The label was issued at first in a sheet of 30 (6 x 5), then I was told that it changed to a 5 x 6 format.  However, I have been unable to confirm this change. Perhaps one of you have an example of the later sheet size.  The 6 x 5 sheet is made of two sections of 3 x 5, in figure 1 you can see that they do not align properly.  The sheets that I have examined all have a different color of green in the right and left sections.  It should be noted that there is considerable variation in the shades of green - dark green to a yellow green.  It would appear that they were printed one side at a time, the difference being the mixing of the batches of ink.  However, it might very well be that two presses were used, accounting for the color differences between the right and left sides.  The black characters were printed on both sides at the same time, hence no difference in alignment.


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There is one interesting variety in the 6 x 5 sheet, in position 25 is the wide spacing of the 93- and 5  variety, see figure 2.  This is the only major variety in the sheet.  However, there are three items to look for.  The first is the stamp without the back printing, figure 3.  One sheet was found without the printing and was broken into singles, pairs etc.  Thus the total  of the stamp without overprint is 30 copies.  Few have been seen for sale and is considered very scarce.  There is an essay prepared but not issued, see figure 4 for an example.  Please note the red number added.  This is considered very rare.  In addition, there is another essay that has the overprint in red instead of black.  I have not seen this item as it is very rare and may not exist outside of China.




Now back to the question of first day - figure 5 is an example of a first day cover on June 15.  So far, all covers I have seen are in conjunction with the postage stamp issue that date.  The label was used until June 30 before being terminated by the postal authorities. 




Figure 6 is an example of other than the first day of usage, this being Wenquan, postal code 437100 dated June 26, 1993.  It seems that covers of the first day are much more common than the regular usage.  Perhaps collectors tended to save the first day cover more frequently.


I am sure that you are aware of the excellent catalog on line by D&O Trading Company.  They are certainly one of the most reliable dealers of the surcharge labels, with an excellent search capability to assure you  find the item.  If you have not before, go to www.dandotra.com and have fun!