New stamps sport island touch

Stamp collectors everywhere have their eyes on Hawai`i this week with the unveiling of two stamps by local artists. The U.S. Postal Service‘s highest ranking official, Postmaster General John E. “Jack” Potter, is in the islands to introduce the last in a series of twelve “Lunar New Year” commemorative stamps by graphic designer Clarence Lee, as well as a set of “Pacific Coral Reef” stamps by Hilo resident John Dawson.

The 2004 Year of the Monkey stamp completes the circle of twelve lunar new year characters designed by Lee and released every year since the last Year of the Rooster in 1992. Also unveiled at yesterday’s event was a special souvenir sheet that includes all twelve stamps and will be available in January 2005.

“The Souvenir Sheet is a spectacular grand finale to the Postal Service’s award-winning Lunar New Year stamp series designed by artist Clarence Lee,” Potter said. “We have been honored to celebrate each year of the Chinese Zodiac with stunning stamps that reflect the rich, multi-cultural heritage of a substantial portion of our country’s population.”

On Friday, January 2, Potter will lead a national “first day of issue ceremony” for Dawson’s coral reef design at the Waikiki Aquarium. Hawaii will be the only place the new stamps will be available for 24 hours — the rest of the country will have to wait until Saturday to buy them.

“The First Day of Issue event of Friday is very rare as those ceremonies are not common in Hawaii,” said Marc Dixon, communications specialist for the U.S. Postal Service.

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