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11 January 2020

Lunar New Year — Year of the Rat
Monterey Park, CA 91754

United States: Lunar New Year — Year of the Rate, 11 January 2020. Images from Stamp News Now and eBay.

Technical Specifications:

Issue: Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat Stamp
Item Number: 475600
Denomination & Type of Issue: First-Class Mail Forever
Format: Pane of 20 (1 design)
Series: Lunar New Year
Issue Date & City: January 11, 2020, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Art Director: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Designer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Typographer: Antonio Alcalá, Alexandria, VA
Artist: Camille Chew, Providence, RI
Modeler: Sandra Lane/Michelle Finn
Manufacturing Process: Offset, Foil Stamping, Flexographic, Microprint
Printer: Banknote Corporation of America
Press Type: Gallus RCS
Stamps per Pane: 20
Print Quantity: 24,000,000 stamps
Paper Type: Phosphor, Block Tag
Adhesive Type: Pressure-sensitive
Processed at: Banknote Corporation of America
Colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Pantone 7579 Orange, Pantone 7563 Brown, Gold Foil Luxor MTS 413 Gold
Stamp Orientation: Vertical
Image Area (w x h): 0.84 x 1.42 in./ 21.336 x 36.068 mm
Overall Size (w x h): 0.98 x 1.56 in./24.892 x 39.624 mm
Full Pane Size (w x h): 7.25 x 8.5 in./184.15 x 215.9 mm
Press Sheets Size (w x h): 14.5 x 18.25 in./368.3 x 463.55 mm
Plate Size: 80 stamps per revolution
Plate Numbers: “B” followed by six (6) single digits
Marginal Markings:
Front: Header: Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat • Plate number in bottom two corners
Back: ©2019 USPS • USPS logo • 2 barcodes (475600) • Plate position diagram (4) • Promotional text

From the USPS announcement on 22 October 2019:

In 2020, the Postal Service is launching its third Lunar New Year series with the issuance of the Lunar New Year: Year of the Rat Forever stamp. The Year of the Rat stamp will be the first of 12 stamps in the series. The Year of the Rat observance begins Jan. 25, 2020, and ends Feb. 11, 2021. Calling to mind the elaborately decorated masks used in the dragon dance often performed in Lunar New Year parades, this three-dimensional mask depicting a rat is a contemporary take on the long tradition of paper-cut folk art crafts created during this time of year. Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp with original artwork by Camille Chew.

Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is primarily celebrated by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Malaysian and Filipino heritage.

Known as Tet in Vietnam and the Spring Festival in China and elsewhere, Lunar New Year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice and historically marks the arrival of spring. In communities across the United States, people shop for food and other supplies, hang decorations and ceremonially clean their homes and streets to welcome the new year with a fresh start. Filled with symbolic meaning, the colors red and gold appear everywhere during this auspicious time of year. Red is considered very lucky, while gold is said to bring wealth.

The stamp features a rat mask that calls to mind the elaborately decorated masks used in the dragon dance, a hallmark of Lunar New Year parades. The mask is mostly blue, which is said to be one of the lucky colors for individuals born during the Year of the Rat, and incorporates elements with symbolic meaning. Several of the patterns were created with the style of Asian textiles, and the circle in the center of the rat’s head represents the new moon on which the Lunar New Year begins. The yellow motif atop the rat’s head, similar to a crown, highlights the importance of the animal’s position as the first of the 12 zodiac animal signs associated with the lunar calendar. A pop of red, another lucky color, ties the design to other common celebratory decorations.

United States: Chinese New Year – Year of the Rat (regular and color first day of issue cancellations), 11 January 2020.

First Day of Issue Ceremony:
WHO:  Luke Grossmann, senior vice president of finance and strategy, stamp ceremony’s dedicating official, U.S. Postal Service.
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, 11 a.m. PST
WHERE: Lunar New Year Festival — Garvey Avenue, between Garfield and Alhambra Avenues in Monterey Park, CA 91754
RSVP:  The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not necessary.

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