Celebrating Lunar New Year -- First of 'All-Forever' First-Class Mail Commemorative Stamps Issued

MORROW, Ga., Jan. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The U.S. Postal Service today issued the first of its "all-Forever" First-Class Mail commemorative stamps in recognition of the upcoming Lunar New Year celebration.

"Today's event is important, not only because it's our first stamp dedication ceremony of the new year, but also because it gives me the chance to reinforce one of the Postal Service's top priorities, and that is to improve our customers' experience doing business with us," said Linda Welch, Postal Service area vice president, Southwest Area.

As of today, all First-Class Mail commemorative stamps will be Forever Stamps.

Their value will always be equal to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce rate, whether they are used this Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rabbit, or in 2018, the Year of the Dog, or even in 2050, the Year of the Horse.

"The Postal Service made this change to meet our customers' needs," said Welch. "You have told us you appreciate the convenience of knowing that when you buy stamps, they'll be good forever and now you don't have to worry about future price changes. Stamps can be used forever." The stamp dedicated today is the fourth of 12 stamps in the Postal Service's Celebrating Lunar New Year series, which began in 2008 with the Year of the Rat.

The Year of the Rabbit begins on Feb. 3, 2011, and ends on Jan. 22, 2012.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian heritage in many parts of the world. Parades, parties and other special events are common.

In the United States as elsewhere, the occasion is marked in various ways across many cultures. Foods considered lucky foods are eaten--kumquats, such as those depicted in the stamp art, for example--and given as gifts.

People born in the lunar new year associated with a particular animal and are said to share characteristics with that animal. Individuals born during the Year of the Rabbit are said to be cautious, mannerly and sensitive. They are also thought of as lucky. Famous people born in the Year of the Rabbit include film director Francis Ford Coppola, athlete Michael Jordan and actress Drew Barrymore.

Art director Ethel Kessler worked on the series with illustrator Kam Mak, an artist who grew up in New York City's Chinatown and now lives in Brooklyn. The stamp design incorporates elements from the previous series of Lunar New Year stamps, using artist Clarence Lee's intricate paper-cut design of a rabbit and the Chinese character, drawn in grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun, for "rabbit." Joining Welch to dedicate the Lunar New Year Forever Stamp were Hanh Kim Dang, president, Vietnamese Community of Georgia; James J. McSweeney, regional administrator, National Archives at Atlanta; Kate Wiley, district manager, Atlanta, U.S. Postal Service; Ken Lee, president, Organization of Chinese Americans National; Truman Woo, president, Augusta Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association; Jean Chen, founder, Organization of Chinese Americans Georgia; Kam Mak, stamp artist; B.J. Pak, Georgia State representative, District 102; and Tricia Sung, president, Organization of Chinese Americans Georgia and executive director, Asian Pacific American Historical Society.

How to Order the First-Day-of-Issue Postmark Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at a local Post Office, at The Postal Store website at www.usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes (to themselves or others), and place them in larger envelopes addressed to: Lunar New Year; Year of the Rabbit Stamp Postmaster 1600 Lake Harbin Road Morrow, GA 30260-9998 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 March 22, 2011.

How to Order First-Day Covers The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-STAMP-24 or writing to: Information Fulfillment Dept. 6270 U.S. Postal Service PO Box 219014 Kansas City, MO 64121-9014 Philatelic Products There are eight philatelic products available for this stamp issue: 885800, Note Card Set, $14.95 575661, First-Day Cover, $0.82 575662, First-Day Cover Full Sheet, $7.78 575664, First-Day Cancelled Full Sheet, $7.78 575665, Digital Color Postmark, $1.50 575684, Uncut Press Sheet, $47.52 575691, Ceremony Program, $6.95 575699, Cancellation Keepsake, (Two Souvenir Sheets and one Digital Color Postmark First-Day Cover), $12.95 To learn more about the Postal Service's Stamp Program, visit http://beyondtheperf.com.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With 32,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, usps.com, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $67 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world's mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S.

Postal Service would rank 29th in the 2010 Fortune 500. Black Enterprise and Hispanic Business magazines ranked the Postal Service as a leader in workforce diversity. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency six consecutive years and thesixthMost Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.

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