The intricate patterns of the paper-cut lunar stamps challenge the skills of the engraver to the utmost. Not only do the very fine lines of the animal designs have to be perfectly reproduced, but the montage of Chinese characters and lettering has to be raised to differentiate the separate elements.
Each master die is the result of an exacting process. First, each image is photographically enlarged and engraved by hand onto a plaster template. The sculpted image is then placed on a reduction pantograph that over a period of many hours traces every minute shape and cuts the image directly into a steel minting die, to the exact size of the original stamp.
The master die is placed into a massive 360-ton proofing press and struck on 2.2mm-thick polished sold silver blanks. After minting, the perforations are precision diamond cut to create an impeccable finish. The result is a perfect replica of the original stamp, with each image clearly displayed against a mirror-polished background. Finally each stamp ingot is generously layered with 24-karat gold, and proudly takes its place alongside the other 11 stamp ingots that comprise The Lunar New Year Collection.