US aims lucky 'Year of the Horse' greenbacks at Chinese

The "Year of the Horse" one dollar bill is displayed for the media at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in Washington, DC, on Dec 3, 2013. The United States (US) Treasury is selling red "hong bao" envelopes with "lucky" dollars bearing auspi
The "Year of the Horse" one dollar bill is displayed for the media at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) in Washington, DC, on Dec 3, 2013. The United States (US) Treasury is selling red "hong bao" envelopes with "lucky" dollars bearing auspicious serial numbers to mark the Chinese Year of the Horse next year. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States (US) Treasury is selling red "hong bao" envelopes with "lucky" dollars bearing auspicious serial numbers to mark the Chinese Year of the Horse next year.

Exactly 88,888 of the dollar notes go on sale on Wednesday, each stuck in a red envelope blazoned with New Year's greetings and horse pictures.

The serial number on each note begins with 8888, which pronounced in Chinese sounds like the word for "prosper" and is considered by many to be especially lucky.

Chinese often give and receive gifts of money in red envelopes - hong bao - to mark the new year, which falls on January 31 in 2014.

The Treasury is selling each note, with envelope, for US$5.95 (S$7.50), though the prices falls to US$4.50 for 50 or more, and US$3.95 apiece for 1,000 or more.

Mr Cheng Wang, a retired official of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, said the annual lucky banknote issue is a hit, especially in years represented by the most propitious animal symbols of the Chinese zodiac.

"The Year of the Dragon (2102), it was sold out in one week. That's how hot it was," he said.

"The Year of the Horse is good too. You reach a goal with a horse."