Local post issues depicted one of the watch towers from which Yantai derives its name.
The stamp depicted above is watermarked with the simplified Chinese character yan.
With the signing of the Treaty of Tianjin (Tien-tsin) in 1858, eleven new Chinese ports were opened to international trade. As a result, the fishing village of Yantai was opened to international trade three years later. It became known to foreigners as Chefoo although that was actually the name of a nearby island. Seventeen foreign powers established embassies in Chefoo.
Watch towers dating back to the end of the fourteenth century were used to warn the town against raids by Japanese pirates. Such a watch tower, along with more modern semaphore signals, is featured on some stamp designs dating back to the 1890's. The modern name of the city, Yantai(yan=smoke; tai=tower), is derived from these towers.
According to David Heppell, the Chefoo local post office was established in 1893 with its first stamps being issued on October 6th. Heppell ellaborates, "These were lithographed in Germany and impressed with a Chinese character "yan" as a watermark. There were four issues. In the first the "H" and "E" of "CHEFOO" are separate and the ball on the semaphore arm is clear and rounded in outline. In the third issue of March 1894 (the only other issue with these values and colours) the "H" and "E" are nearly touching at the bottom and the semaphore ball is irregular in outline."
The December 1893 issue of Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal provided the following information to its readers:
Chefoo Local Post-office.- - We have received from an esteemed friend the rules of this office. The following are the most important:
7. Outward Mail Matter will be received on the following tariff to ports, as well as locally :
Letters. -— 1 cent per oz., or fraction thereof.
Newspaper and Circulars. —- 1/2 cent each, not exceeding 4 oz.
Book Post. -- 1/2 cent per 2 oz., or fraction thereof.
Trade Patterns and Samples of Merchandise -- not weighing more than 4 oz., 1/2 cent, over 4 oz., parcel rates.
Parcels. —- 4 cents per lb., or fraction thereof; 1 cent every additional 1 lb., or fraction thereof.
Registration. -— 5 cents.
8. If possible adhesive stamps will be procured and be for sale at the office. Firms and residents in Chefoo can be furnished with pass books on application, in which the amount of postage incurred will be entered, and the amount due will be collected at the end of each month.
14. Letters, &c., addressed to foreign countries, entrusted to the Chefoo Local Post-office, bearing stamps of the Postal Union in addition to local postage will be sent forward, but entirely at the risk of the sender. Letters so addressed, but bearing no Postal Union stamp, may be detained for inquiry, or returned to sender.
16. Correspondence will be received at the Chefoo Local Post-office for Amoy, Chinkiang, Foochow, Hankow, Ichang, JKinkiang, Nanking, Ning Po, Pagoda Anchorage (Foochow), Swatow, Wenchow, and Wuhu, and other places that may be included in the Shanghai Local Post office system.
Yantai, known as a treaty port as Chefoo, is located on China's northeastern coast.