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Two, apparently Earliest Known Date, covers

1) 1944 with 1945 Chu De stamp

Opened out cover

Detail of stamp & cancel

Detail showing stamp and cancel

In a current auction, there is this spectacularly early use of the Shandong Post Zhu De 10c green, Yang EC53. The actual day on the date stamp is unclear, possibly 11th, but definitely March 1944 (33rd year).

Detail showing transit and receiver cancels

Above is a larger view of the backstamps - a transit cancel date 14 3 33 - 14th March 1944 and receiver cancel, hand dated 15 3.

I don't believe this is a genuine usage. I may be wrong ...

2) January use of first Tiananmen North East issue

North East Tiananmen Cover

From the same auction, a cover with stamp cancelled 19th January 1950. Yang reckoned the stamps were not issued in March 1950.

I don't believe this is a genuine usage, either. Again, I may be wrong ...

Note: some catalogue images may be photoshopped to provide an image of a stamp.
However, items for sale have not had the stamp image altered in any way.