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Collectors dig deep for mouse stamps
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The "Year of the Mouse" stamps have proven incredibly popular since they were issued by China Post in January.

A sheet of 20 stamps with a face value of 1.2 yuan (16 US cents) each is now selling for about 60 yuan, according to the statistics from the local stamp market.

"A sheet of 20 mouse stamps was sold for more than 70 yuan in our market since January 5, and one stamp even fetched six yuan, five times its face value," said Ma Lianhong, an official with Shanghai Lugong Stamp Market, one of the biggest stamp trading markets in the country.

All the mouse stamps available at more than 100 postal outlets around the city sold out on the day they were issued, and some post offices sold out within an hour.

"The Chinese zodiac signs have become a hot theme for stamp collectors since 1980," said Ma, who is also the deputy secretary-general of the Luwan District philatelic association.

In 1980, China Post issued the first stamp based on Chinese zodiac signs to mark the Year of the Monkey.

"Zodiac stamps soon became a hot item among both stamp collectors and investors," Ma said. "Each monkey stamp had a face value of 0.08 yuan which was also the original price at the postal outlets, but nowadays one such stamp has been priced at 3,800 yuan."

Ma said only four million monkey stamps were issued, and a large number of the stamps had been used for mailing letters, leaving only a few on the market, which pushed the price higher.

(Shanghai Daily January 15, 2008)

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