2008 Year of the Rat - Pocket Pets

Even though the rat may have an unpleasant reputation with some people, history and myths tell us that it has a significant place in the human world. 

Issue information

Romans considered white rats auspicious, while in old Japan they were messengers of one of the seven gods of luck. According to Chinese myth the rat brought the gift of rice to humankind – and of course the rat is also one of the creatures in the Chinese Zodiac: a symbol of good luck and wealth that we celebrated with our stamp issue.

The 2008 Year of the Rat stamp issue was the 12th in New Zealand Post’s Chinese Lunar series. Its theme was ‘pocket pets’ – a term originally given to small rodents kept as pets and since expanded to include rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets and more. Eminently portable, these tiny animals make popular companions for small children everywhere.

Specially Embossed First Day Cover

The 2008 Year of the Rat: Pocket Pets issue included a cleverly designed embossed first day cover that incorporated all four stamps. It reflected the ‘Pocket Pets’ theme and highlighted the place of small animals as valued and much-loved companions in our lives.

Centuries of Cultural Association

The miniature sheet and its associated first day cover linked the Chinese symbol of the Year of the Rat with the animal itself – a creature associated with tenacity, a fighting spirit, self-preservation, charm and charisma, yet also with death, crime, poverty and disease. As the winner of the race to determine the order of the animals of the lunar calendar, the rat established his place as leader, pioneer and conqueror – qualities that are said to be reflected in those born in the Year of the Rat.

A Superb 12-year Collection

To conclude our 12-year journey through the Chinese lunar calendar, New Zealand Post was proud to offer you a unique opportunity: the Chinese Lunar Series – Special Edition Pack.

Elegantly presented, the pack contained the 12 lunar miniature sheets issued for the series from 1997 to 2008 – each individually numbered to provide a prestigious collectable. The sheets were accompanied by the fascinating history and legend of the calendar, as well as detailed descriptions of the personalities that are said to characterise people born in the 12 lunar years.

Product Listing for 2008 Year of the Rat - Pocket Pets

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Rabbits' gummed stamp. 

Rabbits join cats and dogs as among the most popular of pets, with their friendly nature, easy care requirements and the ability to live indoors and out. The two rabbits on our stamp – the Netherland dwarf seal point on the left and the Dutch dwarf on the right – are among 40 species of rabbits and hares worldwide. These tiny examples weigh less than a kilogram, with round bodies and faces, short ears and big, bright eyes.

$0.50
Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Guinea pigs' gummed stamp.

Guinea pigs (also known as cavies) make adorable pets; docile and accommodating, they enjoy being picked up. The tricolour Abyssinian (on the left of this stamp) has a distinctive-coloured, short, harsh coat, while the Sheltie on the right has soft, dense, long hair that flows back from the head. Both have their origins in South America and usually live for five to six years.

$1.00
Single Stamp

 Single $1.50 'Rats' gummed stamp.

While people may cringe at the thought of rats as pets, domestic rats can be a great choice! Clean, fun-loving, sensitive, affectionate and intelligent, they enjoy interacting with people and can be taught simple tricks and be litter box trained. The two rats on our stamp are a hooded chocolate rat on the left and an albino white rat on the right.

$1.50
Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'Mice' gummed stamp.

Mice are intelligent, happy, friendly, playful animals that can make an inexpensive, fun-to-watch pet. They love climbing and are more active in the evenings than during the day, although with poor eyesight they rely heavily on their hearing and senses of smell, taste and touch. Our $2.00 stamp featured a fawn and white and a cinnamon satin mouse – lovely examples of this popular pocket pet.

$2.00
Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet ($1.50 and $2.50 stamps only). $3.50
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $5.50
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $4.00
Special Edition Pack Chinese lunar series special edition pack containing 12 lunar miniature sheets issued for the 1997 - 2008 series, each individually numbered to provide a prestigious collectable. $49.90

Technical information

Date of issue: 7 February 2008
Number of stamps: Four gummed stamps
Denominations: 50c, $1.00, $1.50, $2.00
Stamps, first day cover and miniature sheet designed by: Lindy Fisher, Auckland
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd - by offset lithography
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 6 February 2009.