By Fred Baumann
Canada Post will continue its series of commemorative stamps honoring Canadian photography April 13 with seven new designs on stamps in booklets, in souvenir sheets and on international-rate postal cards.
Now in its fourth year, the five-part series continues Canada Post’s stated goal “to showcase the best Canadian photographers and photography of the past 150 years, as chosen by leading curators and gallery owners.”
Five designs will be issued as nondenominated permanent stamps to pay Canada’s basic domestic letter rate, currently 85¢. The self-adhesive versions of these stamps will be sold in booklets of 10, arranged in a symmetrical pattern of two stamps of each design with serpentine die cuts between them.
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The stamps reproduce photographs from the 19th- to the early 21st-century:
The oldest photograph is Freighter’s Boat on the Banks of the Red River, Manitoba, shot in 1858 by Humphrey Lloyd Hime when he was the official photographer and surveyor on the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan Exploring Expedition.
Also from the 19th century is Victoria Bridge, Grand Trunk Railway, Montreal, Quebec, made circa 1878 by Alexander Henderson. His striking images of Canadian landscapes and cityscapes and activities were highly regarded.
Two of the permanent-rate stamps depict 20th-century photographs taken by photographers who immigrated to Canada from Germany: Toronto, a poignant scene, was captured in 1960 by Lutz Dille on the streets of his adopted hometown; and Window, a dreamlike image, was made in 1988 by Angela Grauerholz, who has been a resident of Montreal since 1976.
The fifth permanent-rate stamp depicts Sans titre 0310, a contemporary abstract work by Montreal’s Michel Campeau from his 2005-10 series, La chambre noire (the darkroom). This series explores and eulogizes the demise of film-based photography and its replacement by modern digital image-making.
This Canadian Photography set also includes a $1.20 stamp covering Canada’s letter rate to the United States, and a $2.50 stamp paying the international letter rate. These stamps will be sold in separate self-adhesive booklets of six identical designs.
The $1.20 stamp reproduces Climbing Mt. Habel by Byron Harmon. A charter member and official photographer for the Alpine Club of Canada, Harmon took more than 6,500 photographs of the Canadian Rockies. Climbing Mt. Habel dates from around 1909.
Grey Owl (Archibald Belaney, 1888-1938), shown on the $2.50 stamp, was one of the earliest and most memorable photographic portraits by Canada’s greatest photographer, Yousuf Karsh. The photo was taken in 1936 shortly after Karsh opened his own studio and just five years before his iconic portrait of Winston Churchill brought him global renown.
Two perforated souvenir sheets with moisture-activated adhesive will be issued, varying slightly in format from those in the 2013-15 Canadian Photography sets.
One souvenir sheet contains four of the five permanent-rate stamps in a vertical column, while in the second Campeau’s colorful abstract Sans titre 0310 is flanked by the $1.20 and $2.50 stamps.
In addition, Canada Post will issue seven nondenominated ($2.50) international-rate postal cards, one for each design in this year’s issue.
Canadian Bank Note printed the stamps by lithography, in six colors for the permanent-rate stamps and three-colors for the $1.20 and $2.50 denominations.
The printing totals were 130,000 booklets of 10 of the permanent-rate stamps; 120,000 six-stamp booklets each of the $1.20 and $2.50 stamps; and 100,000 each of the souvenir sheets. The stamps are 36 millimeters by 30mm, and the perforated, PVA-gummed souvenir sheets measure 150mm by 75mm each.
Canada Post will offer 9,000 official first-day covers measuring 191mm by 113mm for each of the two souvenir sheets, with shuttered aperture postmarks of Montreal, Quebec. Priced at $9.95, the FDCs are Canada Post item number 404006144.
The three-stamp souvenir sheet includes two of the scarcest stamps in the issue: perforated, PVA-gummed versions of the $1.20 and $2.50 stamps. Although 720,000 self-adhesive versions of these high-value stamps will be sold in separate booklets of six, only 100,000 of the perforated versions of each will be printed.
Another 9,000 will be used on Canada Post’s official FDCs.
Because they are souvenir sheets, covers with these stamps correctly postally used in 2016 may be especially hard to come by, and worth keeping an eye out for.
The $8.50 booklet of 10 Permanent stamps is Canada Post item 41004111. The booklet of six $1.20 stamps is item 414005111, and the booklet of six $2.50 stamps is item 414006111.
The souvenir sheet of four is item 414004145 at $3.40, and the souvenir sheet of three is item 404006145 at $4.55. Priced at $15, the set of seven international postal cards is item 262451.
Canada Post products are available at Canada Post's stamp shop.
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 are also available from many new-issue stamp dealers, and from Canada Post’s agent in the United States: Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557.
The 2016 Canadian Photography stamps are the second-to-the-last installment in a series that began in 2013 with 14 stamps (Scott 2626-2634) and added the same number in 2014 (2756-2764), in 2015 (2814-2822), and again this year.
When the concluding installment is released in 2017, 35 prominent Canadian photographers will have been honored. All items in the series to date have been designed by Stephane Huot of Montreal, Quebec.
Canada Post’s first issue devoted to photography was a 1989 se-tenant block of four 38¢ stamps (Scott 1237-1240). The stamps commemorate 150 years of Canadian photography and display the work and likenesses of four pioneering 19th-century photographers: William Notman, Alexander Henderson, Jules-Ernest Livernois, and W. Hanson Boorne.
Henderson is honored again this year with an 1878 photo of what was at the time known as the Great Victoria Bridge, the first across the St. Lawrence River and the longest of in the world at 1.9 miles.
In 2008, a four-stamp Art Canada issue (Scott 2270-2273) hailed Karsh, the Armenian-born immigrant who became the best-known Canadian photographer of the 20th century. A brilliant portraitist, Karsh immortalized many of the best-known men and women of the age.
A 2010 issue features the best wildlife photography of the year images from Canadian Geographic, the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society of Canada. The issue included a perforated souvenir sheet with moisture-activated gum and five stamps (Scott 2388a-2388e) and self-adhesive booklet stamps of the same designs (Scott 2389-2393).