A sheet of Chinese stamps commemorating the 1980 year of the monkey brought in 1.4 million Hong Kong dollars (US$184,400), a new record, at an auction Sunday.The sale took less than a minute, said Louis Mangin, director of Zurich Asia, the auction firm that organized it. According to him, a bidder shouted out HK$1.2 million as soon as it started, and the winning bid — from a buyer who Zurich declined to identify — came seconds later.“It definitely surprised me,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to sell it so high.”The HK$1.4 million record includes the winning bid of HK$1.3 million, plus a 15% buyer’s premium.“The market is just steady, but why we did well this weekend is because I found a lot of new clients. I’ve never had this many people in my auction room. There was a lot of activity going on,” Mr. Mangin said.About 120 buyers crowded into the Sunday auction, Zurich said. The entire three-day sale ends today.
The monkey stamps have become asought-after collectible in recent years, though the high prices paid are less about scarcity — 5 million stamps were put into circulation — than auspicious design. The stamps show a black monkey on a dark red background — the color red being associated with good fortune in Chinese culture.Additionally, the stamp was released in 1980, a particularly lucky “Golden Monkey” year that only occurs once every 60 years.The 1980 stamp was also the first time that China Post released a stamp based on one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese postal service continues to release zodiac-themed stamps to much fanfare. According to China Daily, “hundreds of thousands” lined up before post offices in January to get their hands on the new year of the rabbit stamps.