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Non Postal Value Souvenir Sheets

It is impossible to think of China philately without China's souvenir sheets. Collectors who subsribe to the People's Republic of China's new stamp issues are, with some regularity, presented with a souvenir sheet as a surprise gift.

The large flow of souvenir sheets starts when, in 1980, a 'poll for the best stamps' is organized for the first time, and participants in the poll receive a sheet as a token of gratitude for their cooperation. During that period, philately also undergoes a boom. Many new stamp clubs are founded. Souvenir sheets were produced to add lustre to their foundation or their first anniversary etc. The issue of new sheets shows a wave-like movement. 1984 sees the peak of the first wave, followed by a ban on the issue of new sheets. In order to get round this ban, sheets are produced in the shape of picture postcards, or with an appendix attached, enabling them to be used as an admission tickets or as tickets for lotteries to be held. After 1984, the issue of new sheets remains limited. At the end of 1993, another new flow of souvenir sheets gets under way dedicated to the centenary of Mao's birth, followed by more and more sheets devoted to all sorts of subjects. The number of occasions on which sheets were produced is not extremely great in itself. A great difference with the first period is that large series of sheets are now issued, with series of 10 sheets being no exception. So more and more sheets were produced until the issue of new sheets was prohibited in the beginning of 1997. This does not imply that the issue of new sheets has come to a complete standstill. On a considerable number of occasions, permission was granted to have new souvenir sheets issued. We estimate the total number of sheets issued from 1980 until now at 4,000 to 4,500.