Canada 150 Celebration Starts With Year of the Rooster Stamp

This year marks Canada’s 150th celebration and the nation started honoring the anniversary with its first stamp issue, the Year of the Rooster stamps issued on January 9. “Canada 150” appears in the tagging on the stamp issue. Collectors should pay attention closely to future Canadian stamp issues this year because the sesquicentennial will be incorporated somehow into future releases.

Here is Canada Post’s press release on the new stamp issue:

Canada Post welcomes Lunar New Year with stamp issue
Year of the Rooster stamps shine with gold accents

OTTAWA – Canada Post will greet the Year of the Rooster with a two-stamp issue, the ninth in its most recent series honoring the Lunar New Year. A Permanent™ domestic-rate stamp featuring a rooster image, with its chest proudly puffed out, is paired with an international-rate stamp offering a close-cropped profile view of the rooster’s stately face. Both images are created from lines of gold foil.

“Canada Post is proud to celebrate the vibrant and festive occasion that is the Lunar New Year, which is marked by Canadians of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and other East Asian heritage,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra. “The annual unveiling of this stamp issue has become a much-anticipated event, with the artistry of the series praised by both collectors and mailers.”

Designed by Paprika, a firm in Montréal, the stamps include several features:
•    The pane of 25 domestic-rate stamps includes four Chinese blessings, presented in calligraphy by Albert Ng.
•    While all 2017 stamps include elements that point to Canada’s sesquicentennial, this issue’s reference is two-fold. “Canada 150” appears dropped out of the tagging that surrounds the stamps, an effect visible only under a black light. However, on the uncut press sheet and pane of 25 domestic stamps, a gold foil sesquicentennial logo is visible to the naked eye.
•    The international-rate official first day cover (OFDC), which also features a traditional Chinese blessing, is unsealed to enable the Chinese New Year tradition of giving money in a red envelope.

The Year of the Rooster arrives on January 28, 2017, and runs until February 15, 2018. Those born under this sign are honest, courageous and confident. Marked for success, they achieve their goals through a combination of wit, charm and hard work.

Both the domestic and international rate stamps are self-adhesive and measure 32 mm x 32 mm. The domestic stamp is available in booklets of 10 and panes of 25, and the international stamp in booklets of 10. The issue also includes a gummed souvenir sheet of both stamps, a gummed transitional souvenir sheet featuring both the 2016 Year of the Monkey and 2017 Year of the Rooster international stamps, an uncut press sheet and Official First Day Covers for both stamp denominations.

The Nativity — The Manger

Not many nations — even those with a strong Christian base — put an image of the Nativity on their stamps much before the 1970s. As we saw in our Christmas Firsts blog, Hungary first put Nativity imagery on a stamp in 1943. (For argument’s sake, we’re calling the Nativity as depicting the Holy Family — Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus in a manger-like setting.)

The 2016 stamp with a silhouette design was just the third U.S. stamp showing a manger scene.
The 2016 stamp with a silhouette design was just the third U.S. stamp showing a manger scene.

The United States has rarely put an image of a manger scene or Holy Family on a stamp, instead for a religious motif at Christmas opting for master artworks of the Madonna and Child, along with the occasional angel. The first full Madonna and Child stamp was in 1966, followed quickly by a second in 1967. Two more were issued in 1973 and 1975, and in 1978, the Postal Service started a run of 22 consecutive years showing a Madonna and Child master artwork. No Christmas stamps were issued in 2000, and although it’s been more sporadic, the Madonna and Child imagery has appeared on 10 more stamps.

In 1970, the religious U.S. stamp showed a manger scene, presenting Nativity (1523), by Lorenzo Lotto, and in 1971, the stamp showed a detail from Adoration of the Shepherds (c. 1505) by Giorgione, followed in 1976 by Nativity (c. 1777), by John Singleton Copley. Not until this year, did another manger/Nativity scene show up on a U.S. Christmas stamp. Interestingly, this year also saw a new Madonna and Child stamp.

It’s interesting to see how other nations present the Madonna and Child, some in traditional forms, sometimes in modernized images, and some depicting the Holy Family in that country’s traditional stylings.

The First Christmas Stamps

Christmas is celebrated in many ways throughout the world so it’s no surprise that the philately for the holiday includes thousands of stamps and covers, most created since the mid-20th century. The Christmas theme is among the world’s most popular topical areas to collect. So, in the spirit of Christmas giving, the APS blog team is presenting 10 holiday-themed blog posts. Happy holidays.

First Christmas Stamps
Whenever we talk about “firsts,” a lot of contenders line up to make claims so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of firsts when it comes to Christmas stamps. That said, there’s little doubt that Canada can claim the first Christmas postage stamp connection, even if the stamp was not intended to specifically celebrate the holiday.

The 1898 2-cent stamp features a collage of Queen Victoria’s crown at the top, a Mercator map of the world with the nations and colonies of the British Empire displayed in red, “Xmas 1898” and the phrase, “We hold a vaster empire than has been.”

Two varieties of what many philatelists consider the world’s first Christmas stamp, Canada’s Imperial Penny Postage stamp of 1898.
Two varieties of what many philatelists consider the world’s first Christmas stamp, Canada’s Imperial Penny Postage stamp of 1898.

It was Canada’s first bicolor stamp and has major color varieties involving the colors of the ocean and land (Scott 85–86).

But why does it say “Xmas 1898?” The stamp was issued December 7 and its use went into effect December 25, 1898, the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate (which was 2 cents in Canadian funds).

There is an oft-repeated story that Canadian Postmaster General William Mulock developed the stamp and proposed that it be issued on November 9  to “honor the prince,” meaning the Prince of Wales. But when Queen Victoria asked “what Prince?” in a displeased manner, Mulock realized the danger, and answered “Why, madam, the Prince of Peace.”

Here are some other Christmas stamp firsts:

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Canada Post Debuts Four Christmas Stamps

2016 Christmas souvenir sheet.
2016 Christmas souvenir sheet.

Canada Post issued four new Christmas stamps today, November 1. Three have a contemporary theme and a single stamp with a religious theme.

Here are details from Canada Post on the contemporary Christmas stamps:

On the domestic stamp, a smiling Santa stands in the snow facing a jovial tree. On the U.S.-rate stamp, a vibrant green tree is adorned with a red Santa hat. The international-rate stamp features a white dove, carrying an olive branch, a symbol of peace.

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Canada Issues New Hockey Stamps Sept. 23

Great Canadian Forwards souvenir sheet.
Great Canadian Forwards souvenir sheet.

Canada celebrates its hockey heroes with a booklet of six, a souvenir sheet, and international rate souvenir sheets, honoring great NHL goal scorers. The stamps were issued September 23. An unveiling took place at the Esso Great Hall at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.

The Great Canadian Forwards stamp lineup includes: Phil Esposito (Boston Bruins), Guy Lafleur (Montreal Canadiens), Darryl Sittler (Toronto Maple Leafs), Mark Messier (Edmonton Oilers), Steve Yzerman (Detroit Red Wings), and Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins). Five of the six individuals were in attendance at the unveiling event that was broadcast live on Canada Post’s Facebook page.

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