Lunar New Year

Press Release


WASHINGTON - The strikingly beautiful Lunar New Year Stamps souvenir sheet was dedicated today by the U.S. Postal Service at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, HI. The event celebrated, commemorated and brought to a triumphant finale the award-winning and popular Lunar New Year stamp series designed by world-renowned artist Clarence Lee. The double-sided souvenir sheet contains two of each of the Lunar New Year stamps issued over the last 12 years. Each is valued at the current 3 7-cent First-Class letter rate.

"I'm delighted to help celebrate the vibrant tradition of the lunar new year, and the creative genius of Clarence Lee, with the dedication of the beautiful Lunar New Year stamp series," said Azeezaly S. Jaffer, vice president, Public Affairs and Communications, U.S. Postal Service, who dedicated the souvenir sheet. "His work captures perfectly the sense of wonder and renewal that families and individuals around the world experience as they gather to enjoy this venerable Asian custom."

Joining Jaffer for the dedication ceremony was Lee. "During the creation of the Lunar New Year stamps, and with this beautiful souvenir sheet, my enthusiasm and pride in this hallmark collection knows no bounds," said Lee. "The stamps and souvenir sheet bring honor to the Asian community, and I am grateful for my part in their design."

To commemorate the Chinese Zodiac, Lee created an intricate paper-cut design honoring each animal mentioned in an ancient Chinese fable. The fable says the emperor asked all animals to report to him on the day of the Chinese New Year, and the first 12 to reach the palace would be rewarded with a year named after them. As a result, 12 animals with their own distinctive characteristics and fate represent each year in the Chinese Zodiac.

The stamp designs also include grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun that translates into English as "Year of the (animal)," and the greeting "Happy New Year!" in English.

Lee, an American of Chinese descent, was born in Honolulu. After attending Pomona College in Claremont, CA, he transferred to the School of Art and Architecture at Yale, receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree in 1958. He worked as a designer in New York before returning to Hawaii in 1966 to open his own design firm.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year is a family affair that holds great importance to those of Asian descent around the world. It is a time to cast away the bad blood of the previous year and to wish for good fortune in the coming year. And the Chinese Zodiac is extremely practical-a child doesn't have to learn a new answer to the question, "How old are you?" They just remember which animal's year was celebrated when they were born.

To see the Lunar New Year souvenir sheet and other stamp designs, go to the Postal Service's online store at, and click on "Release Schedule" in the Collector's Corner. Media may obtain reproducible images of the Lunar New Year souvenir sheet and other stamp designs-at no cost and in a variety of formats-by registering at

Current U.S. stamps, as well as a free comprehensive catalog, are available by toll-free phone order at 1-800-STAMP-24. A selection of stamps and other philatelic items are also available at the online Postal Store at In addition, beautifully custom-framed prints of original stamp art are available at

With the dedication of the Lunar New Year souvenir sheet, the Postal Service introduces First-Day Digital color postmarks. The First-Day Digital color postmark for the Lunar New Year souvenir sheet, also designed by Lee, is the first postmark specifically designed to enhance the visual appeal of the stamp and cover. Cost for the First-Day Digital color postmark is $1.50 per cover. Note: Digital color postmarks are not available on customer-submitted covers.

Since 1775, the U.S. Postal Service has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. An independent federal agency, the Postal Service makes deliveries to more than 142 million addresses every day and is the only service provider to deliver to every address in the nation. The Postal Service receives no taxpayer dollars for routine operations, but derives its operating revenues solely from the sale of postage, products and services. With annual revenues of $69 billion, it is the world's leading provider of mail and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. Moreover, today's postage rates will remain stable until at least 2006. The U.S. Postal Service delivers more than 46 percent of the world's mail volume-some 206 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year-and serves seven million customers each day at its 37,000 retail locations nationwide.

Chart of Technical Details

Lunar New Year
Issue: Lunar New Year
Item Number: 567000
Denomination & Type of Issue: 37-cent Commemorative
Format: Souvenir Sheet of 24 (12 designs)
Series: Lunar New Year
Issue Date & City: January 6, 2005, Honolulu, HI
Designer: Clarence Lee, Honolulu, HI
Engraver: Armotek Industries
Artist: Clarence Lee, Honolulu, HI
Art Director: Terry McCaffrey, USPS
Typographer: Clarence Lee, Honolulu, HI
Modeler: Donald Woo
Manufacturing Process: Gravure
Printer: Sennett Security Products (SSP)
Printed at: American Packaging Corporation, Columbus, WI
Press Type: Ceruti, 950
Stamps per Pane: 24
Print Quantity: 108 million stamps
Paper Type: Phosphored tagged
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Processed at: Unique Binders, Fredericksburg, VA
Colors: Magenta, Yellow, Cyan, Black
Stamp Orientation: Horizontal
Image Area (w x h): 1.41 x 0.84 in./35.81 x 21.33 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 1.56 x 0.99 in./39.21 x 25.14 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.25 x 5.937 in./184.15 x 150.799 mm
Plate Size: 576 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: N/A
Marginal Markings: 2004 USPS " "HAPPY " NEW " YEAR!"
Catalog Item Number(s): 567040 Lunar New Year PSA Pane of 24 - $8.88
567063 First Day Cover set of 12 - $9.00
567064 Canceled Full Pane (Front & Back) - $11.38
567065 Digital Color Postmark Cover - $1.50
567068 Digital Color Postmark set of 12 Covers - $18.00
567088 Lunar New Year Collection - $21.95
567099 Cancellation Keepsake (FP w/Digital Color Postmark Random Single Cover) - $10.38

Customers have 30 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at their local Post OfficeTM, by telephone at 1-800-STAMP-24 and at the Postal Store at They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in a larger envelope addressed to:
3600 AOLELE ST STE 106
HONOLULU HI 96820-3620
After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by February 4, 2005.

Stamp Fulfillment Services offers first-day covers on new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation.
Each item has been assigned an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly "USA Philatelic" catalog and at Customers may request a free catalog by calling 1-800-STAMP-24 or writing to:
DEPT 6270
PO BOX 219014
KANSAS CITY MO 64121-9014
First day covers remain on sale for at least one year after the stamp's issuance.