I consider myself a newbie in Chinese philatelic collection (around 4 years). Even so, the old ROC era parcel post has been one of my favorite subjects simply because it is a cold topic to most collectors.Even now it is still overlooked by most people due to their sizes considering the first commercial paperboard (not corrugated) box was produced in England in 1817 and the first corrugated cardboard box manufactured in the USA was in 1895. This leads to that most items preserved are either cloth sacks or cut pieces due to the fact that their sizes are more manageable.
During the Xmas break, I was browsing a few past issues of the CSS and one article came to my attention – “parcel stamp paper of the ROC”. It was published in July 2015. I did read it once in the past but I missed the last part which includes some discussion of the parcel declaration form. I cannot confirm that judging from the content of the article that the author, which happens to be a senior member in this forum, was referring to 中國與美國間之包裹郵遞 –Parcel post between China and the United States. Below is some information regarding to the said topic and I suspect that much discussion may have already been available in some early philatelic publications during the old ROC era.
According to “Parcel Post convention between the United States of America and China” published in 1916(figure 12 to 19), signed in Washington on July 11 and May 29 in Peking, such declaration form was supposed to be implemented started Oct 1, 1916 according to the convention. I’m not aware that parcels sent before this time required specific forms but do know that acknowledgment of receipt must be firmly affixed to the parcel as stated in ”Parcel post in foreign countries, 1912”under China section.
The earliest of my limited(and very small) collection for such form was dated Oct 1939 (figure 8, the form at the bottom) – 23 years after its first implementation. Obviously there are lots of earlier items to go after. If you do go through those scan documents,you may find that genuine postage due parcels should not exist in the early stage due to the usage of “Verification Certificate”. Unfortunately I have yet to see such form being used. However, subsequent conventions may have the rule changed, which made genuine postage due parcels possible.
Collecting the parcel post from China to the US should include, but not limited to, 3 parts: (1) the parcel with the correct postage rate and cancels with the origin and destination chops (2) the custom declaration form (3) the parcel fee which was collected from the addressee by affixing the correct postage due stamps to the parcel. Unfortunately items contain all three parts are not easy to find and most of my collections are bits and pieces or the combinations of the three.
Figure 1 to 3 depicts a registered parcel sack sent from Peiping to California in 1948. It carries eight $500,000,two $200,000, and a single $20,000 Plum Blossom I Dr. SYS stamps which total $4,420,000. There is some pencil writing showing 4,520,000 on the surface. Not sure if there is a missing stamp but I could not find any such traces on the sack. Not much to say about the postage rate since I do not have the parcel postage rate tables (IF YOU HAVE THEM, PLEASE LET ME KNOW). The declaration tag survived and indicates that it was mailed on 6/14/1948 but the 10 cents parcel fee bothers me. It should be a fixed 15-cent fee during that time as I can recall.In fact, when I purchased this sack, the seller did not know that the tag was inside the bag. Figure 3-1 is a sack from the internet that I was able to find showing the correct 15-cent postage due and blue rubber stamp reading ‘Parcel post collect 15 cents” mailed in 1944. Such sack was also mentioned in the said CSS article due to the scarce usage of the parcel stamp paper. Another example of the 15-cents parcel fee is shown on figure 3-2 - it appears to be a Canadian parcel sent to US. That said, I have yet to find the official document that proves 15 cents was the correct rate in that year.
Figure 4 to 5 is a registered parcel box paper wrapper example sent from Shanghai to New Jersey on 10/26/1948. It was a Xmas gift with no value to declare. It bears two $2,000,000,one $1,000,000, and one $200,000 Plum Blossom II Dr. SYS stamps. It has a New York arrival chop dated 12/22/1948 and a New Jersey arrival chop dated 12/23/1948. It does bear the print “parcel post collect 15 cents” but where are the postage due stamps? The 520万 pencil writing on the tag is the only link between the wrapper and the tag.
The third item shown in figure 6 and 7 is one amongst some of my items I do not understand. Judging by the small sack size, it should be categorized as small packet which, by the postal regulation, should have a declaration tag attaching to it. No postage due stamp or print can be found on the surface. Sent 4/16/1948 from Shanghai to New York and shown two New York chops dated 4/19 and 4/20/1948, registered airmail. Most of my other wrappers are of this form and I find it very little value to discuss them here. So far it is clear that regular stamps were used on a lot of parcel post mailed during that time. I use the word “mailed” instead of “shipped” is because mailing refers to postal shipping and shipping refers to private shipping. This practice is still common today.
Figures 8 to 11 shows other declaration forms that I have. Other than printing in different plates, they offer very little information about parcel post. There is one column that reads“PER CENT.” on the tag. I wonder if it‘s referring to Centime. Out of the 7 tags shown here, there are 6 different styles. One would assume that there are many more different prints exist. However, none of my tags were cut into two halves nor did they affixed with any stamps as indicated in the CSS article. Without the picture, I cannot confirm that they are of the same form (highly unlikely I would say).
I have very limited resource about this topic partially due to my lesser experience and residing overseas.Hopefully some advance collectors in this field here can shed some light on my ignorance.
Happy New Year!