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'Charming Chinese Lanterns' special stamps from Hongkong Post (with photos)
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    A special stamp issue with the theme of "Charming Chinese Lanterns" would be released on Sunday, February 12, 2006, the Postmaster General, Mr Allan Chiang, announced today (January 19). A series of associated stamp products would also be on sale from the same date.
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     The Chinese Lantern Festival, or Yuanxiao, falls on February 12 this year and Hongkong Post, China Post and Macao Post are each issuing a set of special stamps in celebration. This set of "Charming Chinese Lanterns" stamps is the sixth joint issue by the three postal administrations on a common theme. The three stamps issued by Hongkong Post are the Lotus Fairy Lantern (HK$1.40), the Narcissus Lantern (HK$1.80) and the Peacock Lantern (HK$2.40). These are complemented by a stamp sheetlet (HK$5) depicting young boys in traditional dress holding a dragon lantern high in a festive dance.
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     In vibrant colours, the stamps and stamp products depict delightful images of typical Chinese New Year scenes and activities. A fluorescent ink even makes the lanterns on the stamps appear to glow under ultraviolet light.
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     The stamps create a brilliant illusion of a lantern inset by superimposing a lantern silhouette over an illuminated lantern. The character font has an echo of seal script, which lends a touch of classical elegance to the stamps. The stamp sheetlet is further enlivened with lantern riddles incorporated for those who wish to test their mental agility.
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     Set against the yellow and orange background of the First Day Cover, a Narcissus Lantern, often employed as a symbol of purity and grace, radiates a luminous warmth. Colourful lanterns placed in perspective lend a warm romantic glow, bringing together the beauty and magic of light and lanterns.
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     Commenting on this special stamp issue, Mr Chiang said that lantern fairs were held in many places during the Chinese Lantern Festival, or Yuanxiao, on the 15th day of the first lunar month. "We have tried, quite successfully I believe, to capture the beauty of the Lantern Festival where festival goers weave in and out to admire the lanterns for their beauty and try to solve lantern riddles in a fashion reminiscent of traditional celebrations spanning many generations. These are beautiful stamps which will be admired by philatelists and enjoyed by everyone who sends or receives them in the mail."
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     The stamps are designed by Mr Jason Chum and printed in lithography by Beijing Stamp Printing Factory, the People's Republic of China.
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     The stamps and stamp sheetlet will be displayed at the General Post Office and the Tsim Sha Tsui, Tsuen Wan and Shatin Central post offices from January 20, 2006. Official First Day Cover will be put on sale at $1 each in all post offices on the same day. Advance orders for servicing self-provided souvenir covers will be accepted at all philatelic offices from January 20 to February 1, 2006.
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     A hand-back datestamping service will be provided at all post offices, including the temporary Peak Post Office but except mobile post offices, on February 12, 2006, for official and privately-made covers bearing the first day of issue indication and a local address.
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     A special postmark will also be introduced. It will be available, together with the "GPO-1" postmark, the "Philatelic Bureau" pictorial postmark and the philatelic office pictorial postmarks, for hand-back datestamping service at all philatelic offices on the same day.  
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     The General Post Office and the Tsim Sha Tsui and Airport post offices will maintain their normal Sunday operating hours from 9am to 2pm. Other post offices, including the temporary Peak Post Office but except mobile post offices, will open on February 12, 2006, from 9am to 1pm. In addition, the public hall of the Hongkong Post Philatelic Bureau will also open from 9am to 1pm for datestamping covers with the "Philatelic Bureau" pictorial postmark, the "GPO-1" postmark and the special postmark.  
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     A sales booth will also be set up at the "2006 Urban Region Spring Lantern Carnival" organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, at Ko Shan Road Park and Ko Shan Theatre, from 7.30pm to 10pm on February 12, 2006.
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     Further information about this issue and the sale of associated philatelic products can be obtained from Hongkong Post's website at www.hongkongpost.com, at any post office, or by calling the Hongkong Post Philatelic Bureau hotline 2785 5711.

Ends/Thursday, January 19, 2006
Issued at HKT 11:00

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