Even though the rat may have an unpleasant reputation with some people, history and myths tell us that it has a significant place in the human world.
Romans considered white rats auspicious, while in old Japan they were messengers of one of the seven gods of luck. According to Chinese myth the rat brought the gift of rice to humankind – and of course the rat is also one of the creatures in the Chinese Zodiac: a symbol of good luck and wealth that we celebrated with our stamp issue.
The 2008 Year of the Rat stamp issue was the 12th in New Zealand Post’s Chinese Lunar series. Its theme was ‘pocket pets’ – a term originally given to small rodents kept as pets and since expanded to include rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets and more. Eminently portable, these tiny animals make popular companions for small children everywhere.
Specially Embossed First Day Cover
The 2008 Year of the Rat: Pocket Pets issue included a cleverly designed embossed first day cover that incorporated all four stamps. It reflected the ‘Pocket Pets’ theme and highlighted the place of small animals as valued and much-loved companions in our lives.
Centuries of Cultural Association
The miniature sheet and its associated first day cover linked the Chinese symbol of the Year of the Rat with the animal itself – a creature associated with tenacity, a fighting spirit, self-preservation, charm and charisma, yet also with death, crime, poverty and disease. As the winner of the race to determine the order of the animals of the lunar calendar, the rat established his place as leader, pioneer and conqueror – qualities that are said to be reflected in those born in the Year of the Rat.
A Superb 12-year Collection
To conclude our 12-year journey through the Chinese lunar calendar, New Zealand Post was proud to offer you a unique opportunity: the Chinese Lunar Series – Special Edition Pack.
Elegantly presented, the pack contained the 12 lunar miniature sheets issued for the series from 1997 to 2008 – each individually numbered to provide a prestigious collectable. The sheets were accompanied by the fascinating history and legend of the calendar, as well as detailed descriptions of the personalities that are said to characterise people born in the 12 lunar years.
Product Listing for 2008 Year of the Rat - Pocket Pets
Click on image to enlarge.
|Date of issue:||7 February 2008|
|Number of stamps:||Four gummed stamps|
|Denominations:||50c, $1.00, $1.50, $2.00|
|Stamps, first day cover and miniature sheet designed by:||Lindy Fisher, Auckland|
|Printer and process:||Southern Colour Print Ltd - by offset lithography|
|Number of colours:||Four process colours|
|Stamp size and format:||40mm x 30mm (horizontal)|
|Paper type:||Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper|
|Number of stamps per sheet:||25|
|Special blocks:||Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.|
|Period of sale:||These stamps remained on sale until 6 February 2009.|