Biography in English

Tung Yuan-feng (1883-4 November 1941) was one of the first serious philatelists of twentiethcentury China. He made technical studies of the Nanking and Foochow neutrality issues of 1912 and of the stamp series depicting Kuomintang martyrs first issued by the National Government in 1932. The Kan-ch'uan district of Kiangsu was the birthplace of Tung Yuan-feng. Born into a family of respectable lineage and comfortable means, he was a nephew of the Ch'ing scholar and official Tung Hsün (ECCP, II, 789-91). His father was interested in local history and was an active proponent of the views of the Ming loyalist Wang Fu-chih (ECCP, II, 817-19), whose patriotic outlook found favor with the anti-Ch'ing movement at the turn of this century.

Tung Yuan-feng received a traditional education in the Chinese classics from tutors. His father died early, and the young Tung took charge of the family's property interests. He also devoted himself to revising his uncle's Kan-fung hsiao-chih (1855), a topographical work on the clan's native town in Kiangsu; to preparing an annotated catalogue of the family library; and to collecting samples of the calligraphy of prominent Kiangsu natives. On a visit to Shanghai in 1908 Tung met Ch'en Chin-t'ao (q.v.), who had been sent abroad by the imperial government to investigate methods for improving the manufacture of Chinese postage stamps. Ch'en had concluded that the techniques used in the United States were least subject to counterfeiting, a highly developed art in China; and he had invited two American experts, William A. Grant and Lorenzo J. Hatch, to China to advise the bureau of printing and engraving at Peking. After meeting in Shanghai with Grant, who had been in charge of the engraving room of the American Bank Note Company, Tung developed an interest in the technical problems involved in the production of bank notes and postage stamps with inscriptions in Chinese characters. During the next decade Tung developed into a serious philatelist and became one of the first Chinese to study Chinese philatelic history, which dates back to 1878. In September 1918 he published notes gleaned from his research on stamp issues of the Chinese treaty ports, notably those of Amoy, Chefoo, Hankow, Ningpo, Swatow, and Weihaiwei. Written in elegant classical Chinese and supplemented with handdrawn reproductions of stamp designs in complete detail, the work was privately printed for circulation among members of the Nan-she, or Southern Society {see Liu Ya-tzu). The small community of Chinese stamp collectors, then clustered in the Shanghai area, recognized it as a work of the first caliber. Tung was one of the first Chinese philatelists to appreciate the significance of watermarks, perforation scales, and varieties of paper and ink in stamp classification. In the 1920's and 1930's, Tung Yuan-feng spent most of his time in Shanghai, then the principal stamp market in China. His precise knowledge of early Chinese issues made him an invaluable consultant, though his personal interests remained more in research than in stamp merchandising. Building on experience gained in his early work on treaty port issues, Tung became a leading authority on the rare provisional neutrality overprint issues of 1912, and his study of the many forgeries of these rare stamps was published in several installments in 1924—25 in the Philatelic Bulletin, issued by the Chinese Philatelic Society of Shanghai. Tung's stamp interests were comprehensive, but he was most interested in aspects of Chinese history and culture that were visually or otherwise documented through postage stamps and postal covers. Utilizing Chinese stamps and stamps used by foreign post offices in China, he sought to record and verify historical events through philatelic evidence, especially by studying dates and places of cancellation. A major interest of Tung's was philatelic portraits, an interest which caused him in 1935 to go to great lengths to obtain a Communist stamp issued several months earlier in the remote Szechwan- Shensi border area {see Chang Kuo-t'ao, Hsu Hsiang-ch'ien) which boasted a picture of Karl Marx. Because possession or circulation of Communist materials was suspect in Nationalist-controlled areas of China, Tung was arrested, and the offending stamp was confiscated by the authorities at Nanking. Released after two weeks because of his impeccable record and lack of genuine evidence of Communist sympathies, Tung Yuan-feng emerged furious at the loss of the stamp which, according to acquaintances in the Shanghai stamp trade, had found its way into the possession of a senior Nationalist official without philatelic sophistication. Tung immediately appealed to a family friend, Chang Jen-chieh (q.v.) ; and Chang, though politically inactive at the time, intervened with Chiang Kai-shek and arranged the return of the offending stamp. Nevertheless, this incident may have played a part in Tung's disillusion with the post- 1928 Kuomintang and his decision to remain in Shanghai after the outbreak of war with Japan in 1937.

Tung's continued residence in Shanghai after 1937 was also motivated by a sense of patriotism and by a desire to prevent Japanese philatelists from acquiring some of China's "national treasures" during a period when many Chinese stamp dealers were forced by financial pressures to sell their collections. During the 1937-41 period, Tung did much preclusive buying in the Shanghai area and acquired many rare or unique items. One of his long-range research interests was the so-called martyrs' issue, which depicted Chinese patriots who had given their lives in the republican revolutionary movement associated with Sun Yat-sen. This group included such figures as Ch'en Ch'i-mei, Chu Chih-hsin, Huang Hsing, Liao Chung-k'ai, Sung Chiao-jen, Teng K'eng (qq.v.), and others. Tung compiled a list of 109 differences in design and printing details between the basic Peking printing (1932) of these stamps and the later (1939-41) Hong Kong printing. He was engaged in expanding this list when he succumbed to pneumonia in Shanghai in late 1941. Just before his death Tung also was engaged in research on overprinted surcharges of the martyrs' issue that appeared in Japanese-controlled areas of China beginning in 1941 . Conservative in instinct, Tung generally eschewed political polemics. One of his last articles, however, boldly suggested that certain contemporary Japanese postage stamps were aesthetically superior to Chinese stamps. Published posthumously in a Chinese weekly in Shanghai early in 1942, the article was later appropriated and reprinted by the Japanese-sponsored government headed by Wang Ching-wei at Nanking in its cultural offensive against the National Government of Chiang Kai-shek at Chungking. In interests and style, Tung Yuan-feng was a man who preserved the Chinese tradition of eccentricity in connoisseurship. Always an enthusiastic amateur, he nevertheless made distinctive contributions to the development of professional standards in twentieth-century Chinese philately. Tung was uninterested in the accoutrements of Western civilization with the exception of the postage stamp, and that only in its Chinese incarnation. At the same time, his detachment from prevailing radical nationalist tendencies in republican Chinese philately led him to study treaty port issues, often denounced by both Nationalist and Communist as bogus relics of Western imperialism in China. After the Second World War, some items in Tung Yuan-feng's philatelic trove were sold privately, with the approval of members of the Tung family, to the prominent British collector Sir Percival David. Chung Hsiao-lu (H. L. Chung), who was the editor of the Chin-tai yu-k'an {Modern Philatelic Monthly) at Shanghai and who was regarded by Western collectors as the dean of Chinese philatelists, reportedly facilitated that transaction. Certain of these items were sold at auction in London in 1964.

Tung Yuan-feng's detailed knowledge of the varieties of Chinese postage stamps of the late imperial and early republican periods assisted the preliminary cataloguing efforts of two fellow philatelists in Shanghai; Ma Zung-sung (Ma Jun-sheng) and his son Ma Ren-chuen (Ma Jen-ch'uan) . Ma Zung-sung died at Chungking in October 1945, but his materials were supplemented and prepared for publication by his son. The resulting bilingual catalogue, published at Shanghai in July 1947, is entitled Mrfs Illustrated Catalogue of the Stamps of China [Ma-shih kuo-yu Vu-chieri). It is generally regarded as the most authoritative pre-Communist catalogue of Chinese postage stamps. Ulanfu Alt. Yun-tse H 5*c

Biography in Chinese













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