2018 Year of the Dog Lunar New Year stamp, designed by Kam Mak and issued by the United States Postal Service (all images courtesy United States Postal Service)

Happy Year of the Dog! For the next few weeks, millions around the world will be celebrating Lunar New Year in all sorts of festive ways, from tossing lo hei to watching dragon dances to receiving highly anticipated red ang pao packets. For many years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has marked the occasion with a gesture only it can deliver: the issue of a special stamp, designed to capture the spirit of the major holiday.

2018 marks the tenth year that USPS has produced stamps for its series “Celebrating Lunar New Year,” whose imagery focuses on symbolic objects that feature in festivities. To reflect the Chinese zodiac, which moves in a 12-year cycle, the agency’s art director, Ethel Kessler, worked with the Hong Kong-born, Brooklyn-based illustrator Kam Mak to design 12 stamps to roll out one year at a time.

This year’s dog-themed one is a gorgeous picture that centers on three elegant, twisting lucky bamboo. A red paper decorated with the Chinese character, 褔 (fú) indicates good fortune, while a dog, rendered as a traditional paper cutout, waves from the upper-left corner. The subtle canine was designed by the late artist Clarence Lee, who created the very first Lunar New Year-themed stamp series the USPS issued. That series of 12, which illustrated each of the 12 zodiac animals, was introduced in 1992.

Each of Mak’s designs incorporates Lee’s visions, from the rat to the boar. The Year of the Dog stamp is the penultimate one to be released, and is, I’d argue, the most exquisite yet. Just like its predecessors, it is a fitting adornment to mark messages that wish friends and family good health, happiness, love, and lasting prosperity.

Take a philatelic tour of the Celebrating Lunar New Year series below:

2017: Year of the Rooster

The 2017 Year of the Rooster Lunar New Year depicts a rooster on an ang pao, or a red packet filled with money and presented as a gift

2016: Year of the Monkey

The 2016 Year of the Monkey Lunar New Year depicts two red-orange peonies, which symbolize wealth and honor and often decorated drums played during festivities

2015: Year of the Ram

The 2015 Year of the Ram Lunar New Year depicts a “Tray of Togetherness,’ also known as a prosperity box — a compartmentalized platter with snacks

2014: Year of the Horse

The 2014 Year of the Horse Lunar New Year depicts Chinese drums, traditionally struck to ring in the New Year

2013: Year of the Snake

The 2013 Year of the Snake Lunar New Year stamp features a bundle of firecrackers

2012: Year of the Dragon

The 2012 Year of the Dragon Lunar New Year stamp features a dragon, steered by an unseen dancer with a pole

2011: Year of the Rabbit

The 2011 Year of the Rabbit Lunar New Year stamp features mandarin oranges, given as gifts of good fortune

2010: Year of the Tiger

The 2010 Year of the Tiger Lunar New Year stamp features narcissus flowers, auspicious symbols that convey a renewed hope for the future

2009: Year of the Ox

The 2009 Year of the Ox Lunar New Year stamp features a lion dance costume

2008: Year of the Rat

The 2008 Year of the Rat Lunar New Year stamp features red lanterns

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

One reply on “For Year of the Dog, US Postal Service Delivers a Fetching Stamp”

  1. I am absolutely in love with the new stamps. I am a Chow owner and lover. I plan on buying the special edition and never using them! Awesome work! Thank you to the artist for making this chow lover happy!

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