Chinese New Year Postcard

Today is the fifteenth and last day of Chinese New Year, as well as the last day of February. Families usually celebrate this special day by eating glutinous rice balls, commonly known as Tangyuan.

Every year, China Post would issue postcards for the Chinese New Year. Also known as lottery New Year postcards, each of the cards bears a unique serial number. A list of winning serial numbers will be announced on the China Post website later today. Prizes can be redeemed from 5 March to 5 May 2010.

The postcard has a simple hand-drawn design which reflects the Chinese culture during the New Year. Regardless of age, people are dressed in red, as this colour is regarded as auspicious. On the fifteenth day of the New Year, children would walk around with lanterns, as shown on the postcard.

Sent from a friend in Beijing on 19 February 2010, the fifth day of the New Year, this card arrived in my mailbox yesterday, just in time for the last day of the New Year.

Destination Singapore

On 22 February 2010, Singapore Post has released a new Self-service Automated Machine (SAM) label design on the theme ‘Destination Singapore’. The labels will first be made available at the machines in the Singapore Post Centre branch, S151 and S712.

The cover above was sent by Terence Wong, showing both the old and new label. Yes, old labels can still be obtained at all other machines!

The design is similar to that of the stamp issue on the 150 Years of Singapore Botanic Gardens, overprinted with the words ‘Destination Singapore’ in red. Each SAM label measures 49 mm by 26 mm.

According to a notice released today, the SAM labels will be released at Jurong Point (from 2 March 2010 onwards), Killiney Road (3 March), Tanglin (4 March) and Change Alley (5 March) next week. Following which, the new set of labels can be purchased from the SAMs located at Robinson Road (8 March), Chinatown Point (9 March), Toa Payoh Central (10 March), Thomson Road (11 March), Changi Airport (12 March) and Woodlands Central (15 March). Collectors may wish to collect the entire set of stamp labels from the above philatelic branches. The stamp labels will be introduced at other branches progressively from 16 March 2010.

1991 Uncirculated Coin Set

The latest addition to my collection is the New 1991 Brilliant Uncirculated Coin Set. This set was issued on 29 October 1991 with a mintage of 70,000 sets. In that year, a new aluminium-bronze $5 coin was also introduced as part of the uncirculated coin set. The $5 coin was issued in 1990 to commemorate Singapore’s 25th Anniversary. From 1992, the $5 coin has been replaced by the bimetallic, scallop-edged coin designed by local artist and sculptor Dr Elise Yu.

Beijing 2008 Commemorative Note

A special commemorative banknote was issued by the Bank of China (Hong Kong) a month before the 2008 Beijing Olympics (XXIX Olympiad). A total of four million pieces of HK$20 Olympic banknotes were printed. Since there were multiple-in-one packages, there were only 3.14 million items available for sale, of which 2.93 million of these items were sold in Hong Kong.

The single HK$20 banknote is presented in a blue-purple folder and is sold for HK$138, almost seven times its face value. The 4-in-1 uncut sheets are sold for HK$338, while the 35-in-1 uncut sheets are sold for HK$1388. Queues started two days before the note was made available to the public.

Features on the obverse include a picture of a plinth, the official Beijing Olympics emblem and the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. The Olympic Stadium, commonly known as the ‘Bird’s Nest’ is shown on the reverse.

This banknote shares the same colour and size as the 2003 HK$20 note issued by the Bank of China (Hong Kong). However, new security features such as bright-and-highlighted watermarks and colour-changing windowed threads were introduced. The serial number consists of six digits and may include a two-letter prefix. The prefixes include AA, BJ and HK. The remaining 1 million banknotes do not bear a prefix.

Year of the Tiger 2010

Today, we welcome the Year of the Tiger (as well as Valentine’s Day). People around the world celebrate the first day of Chinese New Year, one of the most significant dates on the Lunar calendar. The Tiger is the third of the 12-animal Chinese zodiac. This is the year of the Metal Tiger, which lasts until 2 February 2011.

Every year, the Monetary Authority of Singapore would issue an uncirculated coin set to signify an auspicious and prosperous year ahead, and is presented in the form of a red packet, commonly known as a ‘hongbao’. This coin set features the second series of circulation coins in Singapore, as well as the scallop-edged $5 coin which has been introduced in 1992. This year, the coin set retails for $20 and can be purchased from the Singapore Mint.

Freepost

Last month, Singapore Post gave its customers a Freepost envelope, similar to a postage prepaid envelope. This means that the postage to any local address is free. This C5 sized envelope is valid for postage up to 40 grams. On the back, there are different advertisement designs featuring the services provided by Singapore Post. However, this envelope is no longer available to customers since the promotion is over. If you would like one, try requesting excess stocks from the counter staff.

Chinese New Year Rush

With less than two weeks left to the Lunar New Year, banks around Singapore (and perhaps other parts of the world) have been flooded with people, mostly to exchange for new notes. The use of new notes for the New Year symbolises a new beginning. Pieces of mint-fresh paper money fill up the red packets and are given out at family gatherings during this festive period. Stocks seem to be depleting quickly at OCBC for the $2, $5 and $10 denominations.

However, queuing up may take some time, especially during lunch hours. At around 3 pm yesterday, long queues were formed in the Serangoon Garden branches of DBS, OCBC and UOB. For example, it took me close to 35 minutes to exchange for new notes at DBS.

To avoid the long queues at local banks, you may wish to try obtaining your new banknotes at banks like Citibank, HSBC, Maybank or Standard Chartered. For example, there were only three other people in queue at HSBC Serangoon Garden when I visited the bank yesterday afternoon. Try visiting areas where different banks are located near one another. My favourite clusters (containing at least 5 banks, within walking distance) include Serangoon Garden, Ang Mo Kio Central and Holland Village.

In addition, $2 notes with two square dots at the back have been spotted. Currently, square dots have appeared on five of the seven denominations: $2, $10, $50, $100 and $1000, of which the notes either contain one, two or no square dots. Square dots have not been spotted on denominations of $5 and $10000 yet.