ASG Certifies Block of China’s Most Iconic Zodiac Stamp — the Golden Monkey

Posted on 1/21/2022

Issued in 1980 to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, several factors make it one of China’s most popular stamps.

Every year, dozens of countries around the world issue stamps commemorating the Chinese New Year. Introduced in the 1950s in Japan, the stamps typically feature artistic representations of symbols from the Chinese zodiac, such as the diligent Ox, arrogant Tiger or romantic Rabbit.

While the tradition has produced a number of beautiful stamps, often designed by celebrated artists, none come close to the popularity of the Gengshen Monkey. Issued by China in 1980 to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, the Gengshen Monkey, also known as the Golden Monkey, was the first Zodiac stamp issued by China. Today, it is considered one of China’s most iconic stamps and is highly sought after by stamp collectors around the world.

Authenticated Stamp Guaranty® (ASG®) is honored to have recently certified a block of eight Gengshen Monkey stamps, grading them ASG XF/Superb 95 Mint OG. The stamps were encapsulated in an ASG Sheet Holder, a high-quality holder designed for long-term preservation that includes an advanced security hologram.

Click image to enlarge.

In many cases, stamps attract the attention of collectors, and subsequently demand high prices, because of three factors: rarity, age or errors discovered in the printing. The Gengshen Monkey stamp does not fit any of those descriptions. It comes from the modern era of stamp collecting, five million were printed and no known “error” stamps exist.

The popularity of the Gengshen Monkey stamp seems to be derived from factors that are uniquely significant within Chinese culture. For example, the stamp places the monkey on a background of solid red, which in Chinese culture symbolizes luck, joy and happiness. Red, which is believed to scare away evil spirits, is worn by Chinese brides and by those celebrating Chinese New Year.

The stamp’s design also prominently features the number eight, designating its value of 8 fen. In Chinese culture, the number eight is considered the luckiest number. Some believe this to be due to the fact that the word “eight” in Cantonese sounds like the word for “wealth.”

Finally, the stamp’s popularity can also be attributed to appreciation for its artistic flair. Its design was conceived by two prominent Chinese artists, Huang Yongyu and Shao Bolin. Huang Yongyu, who was responsible for painting the monkey, is a celebrated Chinese artist who is known for depicting the animals of the zodiac in both painting and sculpture. Shao Bolin is a celebrated figure in the world of Chinese stamps who contributed to the stamp design. Their wide-eyed monkey, depicted in simple but elegant brush strokes, is radically different from the majority of Chinese stamps that came before it, which typically feature military and political heroes.

For those seeking to add a Gengshen Monkey stamp to their collection, be warned that its great popularity has resulted in the creation of a great number of forgeries. While counterfeits can be difficult to identify, even by experienced collectors, stamps that have been certified by ASG are guaranteed to be genuine.

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