Monkey stamp in celebration of Chinese lunar year

To commemorate the Year of the Monkey, which begins on Jan. 22, 2004, stamp designer Clarence Lee has created an intricate paper-cut design of a monkey for the final stamp in the U.S. Postal Service's Lunar New Year stamp series. The Postal Service will dedicate the Year of the Monkey stamp in a ceremony at 11:00 a.m. on Jan. 13, 2004, at the Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California St., San Francisco, Calif. The award-winning Lunar New Year series began in 1992 with the issuance of the Year of the Rooster stamp, followed by stamps for the Year of the Dog, Boar, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse and Ram.

Stamp of Monkey

"The Postal Service has been honored to celebrate each year of the Lunar New Year with stamps that reflect the rich, multi-cultural heritage of a substantial portion of our country's population," said Donna Peak, vice president Finance and controller, U.S. Postal Service, who will dedicate the Year of the Monkey stamp.

A Souvenir Sheet featuring all twelve images of the Lunar New Year stamp series -- all at the 37-cent First-Class one ounce postage rate -- will be a spectacular grand finale to the series when released in 2005. Postmaster General John E. Potter unveiled the Souvenir Sheet on Dec. 29, 2003, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The traditional Chinese New Year marks the beginning of a new season, also called Spring Festival. It is a time of renewed hope for a prosperous future often celebrated through family reunions. The stamp design includes grass- style calligraphy by Lau Bun that translates into English as "Year of the Monkey." The greeting "Happy New Year!" is in English.

Clarence Lee, an American of Chinese descent, was born in Honolulu. After attending Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., Lee 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..

Since 1775, the U.S. Postal Service has connected friends, families, neighbors and businesses by mail. An independent federal agency, the Postal Service visits 140 million homes and businesses 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 more than $68 billion, it is the world's leading provider of mail and delivery services, offering some of the most affordable postage rates in the world. The Postal Service delivers more than 43 percent of the world's mail volume -- some 203 billion letters, advertisements, periodicals and packages a year -- and serves 7 million customers each day at its 38,000 retail locations nationwide.

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