By Fred Baumann
On Jan. 6, Canada Post unveiled two striking stamp designs to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, which begins Feb. 8.
The Year of the Monkey is the eighth issue in Canada Post’s current 12-year Lunar New Year series, which began with Year of the Ox stamps in 2009 (Scott 2296-2297).
The 2016 Year of the Monkey issue has two separate release dates: Jan. 11 for the permanent domestic letter-rate stamp (85¢), and Feb. 1 for the $2.50 international-rate stamp.
The delayed issue date of the $2.50 stamp was a consequence of the Dec. 16 announcement by Canada’s new Liberal government abruptly canceling a long-planned increase in domestic and foreign postage rates pending a review of Canada Post policies.
The designs of the “P” domestic-rate and $2.50 international-rate stamps were inspired by the legend of the Monkey King, also known as Sun Wu Kong, one of the main characters in the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West.
Also transformed into a famous Chinese opera, the story tells of how the simian sovereign accompanied the monk Xuanzang on his long journey to India to retrieve sacred Buddhist texts known as sutras.
Designed by Albert Ng and Linna Xu, the “P” stamp image resembles a stylized version of depictions of the Monkey King from the popular Chinese opera.
Canada Post describes the Monkey King in the stamp design as “a golden figure that is vibrant and alive against a rich red background that provides a stark and striking contrast.”
The $2.50 stamp features a stylized Monkey King mask with red and gold accents.
People born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be brilliant, flexible and inventive, and to possess an excellent memory and strong determination to succeed. They can, however, be easily frustrated by delays, may tend to look down on others, and have quick tempers.
Canada Post pointed out that Canadians that have been born during the Year of the Monkey include singer Cline Dion, actress Kim Cattrall, and pianist Glenn Gould.
Canada’s first Lunar New Year stamp, issued Jan. 7, 1997, was the 45¢ Year of the Ox, a domestic letter-rate stamp sold in sheets and in fan-shaped, two-stamp souvenir sheets (Scott 1630-1630a). That makes the 2016 stamps Canada’s 20th annual Lunar New Year issue.
This issue will bring the number of Canada Monkey King stamps to four, including 49¢ and $1.20 Year of the Monkey stamps issued in 2004 (Scott 2015-2016).
The 2016 Year of the Monkey stamps measure 32 millimeters by 32mm, and the souvenir sheet containing the $2.50 stamp measures 40mm by 140mm.
The “P” domestic-rate stamp issued Jan. 11 comes in embossed, foiled panes of 25 or in a booklet of 10.
Popular Chinese New Year’s greetings appear in the selvage of the pane of 25 and also are included on Canada Post’s first-day cover for this stamp.
The $2.50 international-rate stamp will be issued Feb. 1 in a six-stamp booklet and in a single-stamp souvenir sheet that includes foil and embossing.
Also to be offered will be what Canada Post is calling a transitional souvenir sheet that includes both the international-rate Year of the Ram and the Year of the Monkey stamps, along with foil and embossing.
Other products include a souvenir sheet FDC, an uncut press sheet of 12 international-rate souvenir sheets each, and a nondenominated international-rate ($2.50) picture postal card showing the same design as the stamps.
According to information on Canada Post’s website in early January, the printing quantities are 100,000 panes of 25 permanent stamps, 250,000 permanent booklet stamps, 155,000 $2.50 booklet stamps, 265,000 souvenir sheets of one $2.50 stamp, and 115,000 souvenir sheets of two.
The following product numbers also appeared on Canada Post’s website: pane of 25 permanent stamps is Canada Post item 404000107, the booklet of 10 permanent stamps is item 414000111, the booklet of six international stamps is item 414001111, the souvenir sheet of one is item 404000145, and the souvenir sheet of two is item 404001145. The uncut press sheet is item 404000149.
Canada Post products are available online. Stamps and FDCs will be available by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre, Canada Post Corp., 75 St. Ninian St., Antigonish, NS B2G 2R8, Canada; or by telephone from the United States and Canada at 800-565-4362, and from other countries at 902-863-6550.
Canada’s stamps and stamp products also are available from many new-issue stamp dealers, and from Canada Post’s agent in the United States: Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557.