Stamps of 2023: Christmas Island (Jan. 2023)

Jan. 17, 2023

Year of the Rabbit

Australia Post issues a few sets each year inscribed “Christmas Island ” for its territory located in the Indian Ocean. The first of these is always what I call a “monster set” marking the Lunar New Year, in this case the Year of the Rabbit. At its base is a set of three stamps, the designs of which are repeated on a miniature sheet. There are plenty of additional products including a seemingly endless number of special sheets containing many more stamps, There is even a gold version of the original mini-sheet of three stamps. The 2023 Christmas Island Year of the Rabbit items take up SIX pages in the issue of Australia Stamp Bulletin which announced them; even then, not all of the items were listed. It can be overwhelming not only to the completist collector (I actually pity those whose chosen topical is Lunar New Year as other postal entities also release huge quantities of items with this theme) but to those of us who try to catalogue what is available.

According to Australia Post’s overview of the issue:

“Lunar New Year is the most important of the traditional festivals celebrated by Asian cultures throughout the world. Also called the Spring Festival in China, it is a time to complete unfinished business, and to settle debts before the beginning of another year. Relatives and friends gather to celebrate with feasts, and to exchange gifts of money wrapped in bright red paper.

“The Year of the Rabbit begins on 22 January 2023. The Rabbit is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle and is seen as being creative, compassionate and sensitive. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are kind, gentle, virtuous and popular. They are artistic and have good taste, with a liking for the finer things in life. They do not like to argue, preferring peace and quiet. They are compassionate listeners, excellent negotiators and work well with others. Birth years for Rabbits include 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 and 2011. The Rabbit’s lucky flowers include jonquils and snapdragons, its lucky numbers are 3, 4, and 6, and lucky colours include red, pink, purple and blue.

“This year’s stamp designs, by Chrissy Lau, were inspired by cartoon characters popular in Asian cultures and by three ancient Chinese gods, Shou Xing, Lu Xing and Fu Xing (representing longevity, prosperity and happiness respectively). The zodiac sheetlet stamps continue the cartoon-like feel.”

Australia Post Collectibles

The three main designs are:

  • $1.20 — The Fortune Rabbit character inspired by Fu Xing (Fu), god of fortune and happiness. This rabbit is depicted as a scholar holding a scroll, accompanied by a young rabbit, a pupil.
  • $2.40 — The Prosperity Rabbit character is inspired by Lu Xing (Lu), god of prosperity. Lu represents someone of rank and influence. The rabbit holds a Ru Yi sceptre of power and good fortune, and a gold ingot, which represents wealth.
  • $3.60 — The Longevity Rabbit character is inspired by the god of longevity, Shou Xing (Shou). Normally seen with a walking stick, a carrot is used instead, along with an apricot which symbolises a wish for success.

Technical specifications

Issue date: 17 January 2023
Issue withdrawal date: 31 December 2023
Denomination: $1.20 x 1, $2.40 x 1, $3.60 x 1
Stamp illustration: Chrissy Lau
Product design: Sonia Young, Australia Post Design Studio
Paper: gummed Tullis Russell 104gsm Red Phos.
Printer: RA Printing
Printing process: Offset lithography
Stamp size (mm): 26 x 37.5
Minisheet size (mm): 170 x 80
Perforations: 14.6 x 13.86
Sheet layout: Module of 50 (gutter design $1.20) (Clear laser foil overprint)
FDI Postmark: Christmas Island WA 6798
FDI withdrawal date: 15 February 2023
Zodiac sheetlet size (mm): 170 x 210
Calendar sheetlet size (mm): 170 diameter

Each of the three stamps were printed in sheets of 50 with only the $1.20 denomination bearing a special design in the gutter strip in the form of a clear laser foil overprint. They are also available in a miniature sheet as well as a “zodiac sheetlet” containing the three stamps from the issue, plus 12 special zodiac stamps. The 12 zodiac stamp designs continue stamp design theme, by using a cartoon-like design style for each zodiac animal. A self-adhesive scalloped-edged “calendar sheetlet” contains all of the stamp designs from the zodiac sheetlet as well as a round $1.20 Lunar New Year stamp in the center. Bringing an end to the list of miniature sheets, there is a 99.9% gold version of the three-stamp minisheet and a special “888” gold minisheet, which presents six stamps laid out to form three figure eights. The number eight is considered a very lucky number in Chinese culture, due in part to the Cantonese word for “eight” having a similar sound to the word for “prosperity” or “wealth”. Needless to say, you must already have some prosperity in order to afford to buy these items.

There are first day covers for the regular sheet stamps, the three-stamp miniature sheet, and the twelve special Zodiac stamps. I am surprised they don’t sell gold first day covers as well but perhaps some year they might.

If you like coins in your covers, Australia Post has got you covered as well with several PNCs:

An additional medallion is sold on a backing card and a special collection features a medallion for each zodiac animal, plus the special scalloped-edged zodiac sheetlet.

Speaking of special collections, most of the various sheets come housed in their own souvenir packages.

A prestige booklet released along with the other items has five blocks of four stamps from the issue with descriptive pages telling the story of the Jade Rabbit (also known as the Moon Rabbit in some Asian cultures). According to ancient Chinese folklore, the Jade Rabbit lives on the moon, mixing the prized “elixir of life” for the immortals (who are believed to know the secrets of nature).

While there are no official maximum cards sold for this issue, there is a prepaid postal card that can be posted to destinations throughout Australia and the world from any red post box located in Australia or at local Australia Post retail outlets.

Finally, two pre-paid envelopes were issued, each with a Year of the Rabbit stamp indicium. Each measuring 220mm x 110mm, one is sold for $1.45 and is intended for domestic mail while the international mail version is priced at $3.80.

Did I say, “Overwhelming?”

One thought on “Stamps of 2023: Christmas Island (Jan. 2023)

  1. Pingback: Stamps of 2023: Monthly Wrap-Up (January) | Mark Joseph Jochim

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