To mark the start of the Year of the Snake, Royal Mail has issued a limited-edition stamp sheet featuring celebrations by Chinese communities around the UK alongside intricate designs representing all five elemental snake types.
The striking and multi-faceted sheet comprises 20 fireworks Smilers stamps alongside images of five UK Chinatowns. These are joined by the elemental snake types – Metal, Earth, Fire, Wood and Water – as well as images reflecting the aspirations of Hope, Heritage, Success, Togetherness and Good Fortune.
Stamps representing the Chinatowns in Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester are adorned with traditional Chinese dragons, with London and Cardiff the other cities featured. The sheet also features four large illustrations of red and orange snakes winding their way around the outside of the sheet.
The stamps follow on from the huge success of Royal Mail’s first ‘Lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon’ sheet from 2012.
London boasts one of the oldest Chinese communities in the UK with records showing some of the earliest settlers in Bow, east London.
Today there are significant Chinese communities in cities all across the country, most notably; London; Manchester; Birmingham; Liverpool; Sheffield and Edinburgh – with most featuring a Chinatown – an area rich in Chinese culture and business. The original Chinatown was situated in Liverpool – however this was destroyed during the Second World War.
A Statistical Bulletin published in May 2011 for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated the Chinese population in the UK as 451,500.
Cantonese is the predominant language spoken by Chinese living in the UK, followed by Mandarin Chinese and Hakka Chinese.
The Lunar New Year Commemorative Sheet is available in 350 local Post Offices across the UK, online at www.royalmail.com/snake and from Royal Mail Tallents House (tel. 08457 641 641), 21 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB.
For Chinese customers, the sheets can be purchased from Emily Lee at Stanley Gibbons on firstname.lastname@example.org or from Stanley Gibbons (Asia) Ltd.,10/F Central Building, 1-3 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong.
See Year of the Snake stamps from around the world on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board.