Monthly Archives: August 1997

愈来愈多国家和地区发行生肖邮票纪念新年

愈来愈多国家和地区发行生肖邮票纪念新年

方澈

继美国一九九三年开始发行生肖邮票以来,越来越多的非东亚国家开始发行生肖邮票纪念新年。今年鼠年又有十个国家和地区加入了生肖票的发行行列,分别是多米尼加(Dominica)、冈比亚(Gambia)、加纳(Ghana)、格林纳达(Grenada)、格林纳达-格林纳岱(Grenada-Grenadines)、圭亚那(Guyana)、圣文塞特(St. Vincent)、格林纳岱(Grenadines)、珀捞(Palau)和希那路纳(Sierra Leone)。世界最大的集邮报美国的《林氏邮票新闻报》于一月一日在头版对这些邮票及其与中国生肖文化的关系做了详细报道。另外,据该报三月四日报道,汤加也于今年二月七日发行了她的第一套生肖纪念票。

世界最早发行生肖邮票的是香港、日本和朝鲜,均于一九六七年羊年开始发行生肖新年纪念邮票。第二年台湾也开始了生肖票的发行。中国大陆于一九八零年庚申猴年开始首轮生肖票发行,由于设计精美和印刷量较少,在中国大陆掀起生肖票收藏热,面值仅人民币八分的猴票在美国一九九六年的《司科特邮票目录》中的标价已高达52.5美元,在中国大陆的售价更高。一九八四年澳门开始发行生肖票。以后美国和英属泽西岛(Jersey)也分别于九三和九四年开始了生肖票的发行。

与早先开始发行生肖票的国家相比,新近参与发行的国家其生肖票具有票面大、与中国生肖文化关系密切和多由华人设计等特征。早先发行生肖票的国家和地区,如日本、朝鲜、台湾和中国大陆,其邮票票面均较小,以力求生动反映生肖动物为特征,只有香港生肖票采用“二龙戏珠”、“三羊开泰”等侧重文化的主题。但新近发行生肖票的国家普遍力求通过较大的票面反映与生肖文化相关的主题,如加纳的初三老鼠娶亲、冈比亚的老鼠偷油等邮票,内容均来自中国民间故事。多米尼加、位于日期变更线附近的、圣文塞特和格林纳岱则均将邮票水平地分为对比分明的上下两部分,反映中国文化中的天和地、阴和阳,也与我国纪年中的天干和地支想对应。据《林氏邮票新闻报》去年十二月报道,泽西岛邮局的新邮票介绍杂志中甚至将鼠年出生人的性格,也按我国生肖文化中的说法,作了详细介绍。

美国自九三年以来历年的生肖票均由夏威夷的华裔设计,上述十国今年的首轮生肖票则均是由台湾的李原(音译)设计。中国传统剪纸和书法也是这些国家生肖邮票中场采用的表现方法。这些新生肖票中也多用中文注明了生肖年份,天干地支年份,甚至用中文标注了国名。具体发行时间上各国差异较大,东亚国家因民众喜爱在新年贺卡上贴生肖票邮寄,因此生肖票现多在十二月初便发行了。上述今年开始生肖票发行的国家和地区,则是选择在一月一日元旦那天发行。另一些国家和地区,如泽西岛,则是在中国新年那天发行生肖票。一些国家还在生肖票上加上了一些富有地区特色的内容。如汤加紧靠日期变更线,是世界上第一个进入新年的国家,在今年的生肖票上便写有“时间从这里开始”的庆祝语句。这使得世界各地的生肖邮票更显得多姿多彩。

越来越多的国家参与生肖票的发行,不仅宣传了中国传统文化,丰富了东亚广大生肖邮票收藏者的收藏邮品,还可能会将生肖邮票收藏热推向全球。那时,东亚发行较早的生肖邮票可能会有新一轮的价格急剧上涨。

1997

Mysteries From Postal Cancels of 1996 Chinese International Air Letters

In 1996, I received a total of 53 letters for regular communication from my relatives and friends in China (mainland). It is hard to believe that, among them, 5 are underpaid and 12 carry cancel postmarks that are clearly wrong or hard to understand. Here is a highlight on the wrong or mystic postmarks.

Figs 1-3 illustrate the most mystic cancel postmarks on three covers. The cover in Fig. 1 bears three cancels which were from the same post office but dated differently. The cancel on the right top corner was dated 20 o’clock of Sept. 15 1996, while the other two dated Sept. 20. Why the post office canceled the stamps in such different times? Why the letter was held by the post office for almost a week before it was sent out? In Fig.2, the two stamps were canceled at the post office of Longgang at Shenzhen, the most famous special economic zone of China just north of Hong Kong. The cancel was dated Nov. 10. On the back of the cover, however, there is another chop from Shenzhen with postal code “518116” (possibly the same post office at Longgang), which was dated Nov. 8. Why the post office did not cancel the stamps when it pressed the first chop on the cover on Nov. 8? Why the letter was also held by the post office for 3 days before it was sent?

The mystery in Fig. 3 is more complicated. The cancels on the cover were not only dated differently, but also from different post offices of the same city. The two cancels on the top were from the post office at Phoenix Street and timed 18 o’clock of Nov. 13, and the one below from the post office at Northeast Street and timed 18 o’clock of Nov. 15. There is another chop on the back of the cover which bears a postal code “215006” in the city and timed 9 o’clock of Nov. 15. Why the five stamps were cancelled at different time by different post offices? Why the letter was circulated in different post offices of the same city for days before they were sent out?

China handles its first day covers for collectors in a way very different from USPS. First day covers there are prepared in advance by China National Philatelic Corp. and provincial post offices and available since the day of issue in most post offices nationwide. A first day cover may be put into use in any post office of the country only on the day of issue. The only first day cover among my 53 covers is the four-stamp set of 1996 Children Day issued on June 1st. As shown in Fig. 4, a 1-yuan stamp (Scott# 2061) was added to meet the then international air letter rate, 2.90 yuan. As the sender said, he did drop the cover into a mailbox on the day of issue. For unknown reason, however, the additional stamp was canceled as late as June 29, when the first-day canceled stamps were already invalid. The letter reached me on July 11.

Started from 1996 or earlier, China postal service tried to add information into its cancel postmarks to indicate the type of a letter. From the letters I received, there are at least three types of cancels for this purpose: “guoji” (international mail), “ping” or “pingxin” (surface mail), and “kuaidi” (express mail). Possibly it is too hard for a post employee to always remember that he/she is using a right cancel especially in rush time. So many covers bear wrong types of cancels. Some examples might be seen in Figs. 1 & 4, where the four characters, Pingxin (tongqu), below the date in the cancels mean “surface mail, from mailbox”, while the envelops and postages indicate that they are actually air letters. Fig. 5 lists two more examples. Although all of them are regular air mails, the cancels on Cover A says it is an express mail, while those on Covers B say it is a surface mail.

Besides the above cancels, 2 cancels with dates partly or completely inverted and one timed 27 o’clock were also found. If you have any comments or explanations on the above discussion, you are very welcome to contact me at the following address: 21 Marigold Ave., Toronto, ON., Canada M4M 3B1.

Fig. 1 The three stamps were canceled on different days by the same post office with the same cancel (No. 6). The cancel on the top right corner dated Sept. 15, while the other two dated Sept. 20.

Fig. 2 The cancel on the stamps was from the post office of Longgang, a town in suburb of Shenzhen, and dated 11 o’clock of Nov. 10 1996. There is another chop on the back of the cover, which is from the post office at postal code 518116 and dated earlier, Nov. 8.

Fig. 3 The cancels were not only dated different days, but also from different post offices. The two cancels on the top were from the post office at Phoenix Street and dated 18 o’clock of Nov. 13, while another is from the post office at Northeast Street and dated 18 o’clock of Nov. 15. There is another chop on the back of the cover, which is from the post office at postal code 215006 and dated 9 o’clock of Nov. 15.

Fig. 4 The first day cover with a set of four stamps of the 1996 Children ‘s Day and the first day commemorative cancel dated June 1st. The postage is valid only on the day according to the regulation of China postal service and the sender said that he did drop the letter into mail box on the day. The 1-yuan stamp added to meet international air letter rate is, however, canceled as late as June 29.

Fig. 5 The cancels on two regular air letter covers wrongly indicate the types of the letters. On Cover A, the two Chinese characters, Kuaidi, below the date in the cancels represent “express (mail)”, while, on Cover B, the character, Ping, between the date and postal code in the cancels means “surface (mail)”.

Author: Jin-qi Fang, Originally published on CHINA CLIPPER 1997.