At 15:30, August 8, 2019, a ceremony, jointly hosted by China Post Group and Han Meilin Art Foundation, was held at the printing workshop of Beijing Stamp Factory to mark the official printing of the special zodiac stamps “Year of Gengzi” (The Year of Gengzi refers to the year of 2020, also known as the Year of Rat by the Chinese zodiac). Present at the ceremony were Han Meilin, a famous artist and the stamp designers, Kang Ning, Vice President of China Post Group, Wang Tiecheng a famous actor and Li Yugang, a youth singer, and others. Bai Yansong, the famous TV presenter, hosted the ceremony. The event was broadcasted live online through China Post’s official website (www.chinapost.com.cn), its official Weibo account, its WeChat public account, and a live broadcast platform of Xinhua News Agency, receiving a warm response.
The ceremony marking the start of zodiac stamp printing is a traditional part of the 4th round of the issuance of the Chinese zodiac stamps. On the site of the ceremony, the designs of the “Year of Gengzi” stamps—the Year of Rat zodiac stamps were unveiled.
The first design of the stamps is named “the rat opens up the sky”. It features a lovely rat leaping high, looking to the sky, and trying to bite through the chaos. The design contains in itself a folklore “the rat bites open the sky” while the rat’s jumping posture implies a better life in the Year of Rat. The second design is named “rats prelude a bumper year”. On the design, two adult rats together with a cute little rat are looking afar, with peanuts around them for good harvest. Their looks are full of joy and complacency. This design implies not only a bumper grain harvest and a happy family life for the year 2020, but also a Chinese saying that rats come with fortune.
In the printing process of the special stamps, 2 cutting-edge technologies are adopted: the laser engraving platemaking technology is used for the first time, fully upgrading the engraving precision and manifestation of the details; colorless fluorescent ink is used for the first time in the printing of the 4th round of the Chinese zodiac stamps, highlighting the effect of the sun leaping above the horizon, presenting vividly the scene of “the rat bites open the sky”.
The year 2020 is the 40th anniversary of the issuance of the first zodiac stamp by China Post. Therefore, at the starting ceremony, China Post launched “Four Decades with Zodiac Stamps’’ China Post’s Year of the Rat Zodiac Creative Cultural Competition”. Han Meilin is invited to chair the judging panel of the competition. In addition, a first day cover was issued for the first time by the China National Philatelic Corporation to commemorate this grand ceremony.
“Year of Gengzi”, the Year of the Rat zodiac stamps, will be officially issued on January 5, 2020.