World Stamps

Canada’s Year of the Rat stamps feature folk tale

Jan 17, 2020, 1 PM

By Denise McCarty

Canada Post celebrates the Year of the Rat with two stamps and two souvenir sheets issued Jan. 17. The year starts Jan. 25 and ends Feb. 11, 2021.

The Year of the Rat issue concludes Canada Post’s 12-year Lunar New Year series that began with Year of the Ox stamps in 2009 (Scott 2296-2297).

The new stamps portray the traditional story of the rat daughter’s wedding, according to Canada Post.

The stamp for the permanent domestic letter rate (92¢) depicts the bride being carried to her wedding in a red sedan chair on a snowy day. She is dressed in red and gold as are her porters, and her headdress is adorned with butterflies.

Shown in the upper left of this design is Chinese calligraphy representing rat with the word “rat” in English below it.

The $2.71 international-rate stamp presents the happily married couple. This design includes the Chinese calligraphy and “rat” in the center and images of red and gold firecrackers in the upper left.

Albert Ng and Seung Jai Paek of Albert Ng Associates created these designs in the folk-art style known as Chinese farmer painting.

Ng said in Canada Post’s Details magazine for collectors: “A merry wedding procession of rats is a common folk-art motif associated with the Chinese New Year. The snowy scene, reminiscent of Canada or northern China, joyfully captures the celebration of the wedding — and the coming new year.”

Chinese farmer painting emerged in the late 1950s, according to an article by Dong Jirong on the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism website. He described this folk-art style as “usually marked by bright colors with a cheerfully rural style and bold imagination.”

Canada Post is selling the permanent stamp in booklets of 10 and panes of 25.

Shown in the four corners of the pane of 25 are different blessings for the new year, presented using calligraphy. They translate to “A timely snow is an auspicious sign for a new year,” “The air is filled with the sound of bursting firecrackers,” “Red plum blessings bring good tidings,” and “This year will be filled with one good thing after another.”

The $2.71 stamp is available in a booklet of six and in two different souvenir sheets.

One souvenir sheet is long, 40 millimeters by 140mm, and includes a single stamp at the bottom. Scenes from the procession to the rat daughter’s wedding are pictured in the selvage above the stamp. The rats accompanying the procession are celebrating, playing musical instruments and carrying various items.

The other souvenir sheet, which measures 118mm by 90mm, marks the transition from the Year of the Pig to the Year of the Rat and includes stamps from both years. The $2.71 Year of the Rat stamp is in the top center and the 2019 $2.65 Year of the Pig (Scott 3162) in the bottom center.

All of the stamps are square, 32mm by 32mm.

Colour Innovations printed the stamps and souvenir sheets.

The permanent booklet stamps were printed by six-color lithography in a quantity of 260,000 booklets (Canada Post product number 414126111), and the $2.71 booklet stamps by five-color lithography plus foil stamping in a quantity of 60,000 booklets (414127111).

The panes of 25 and the souvenir sheets were produced by a combination of five-color lithography, embossing and foil stamping. The quantities printed and product numbers are 35,000 panes of 25 (404126107), 120,000 souvenir sheets of one (404126145); and 60,000 transitional souvenir sheets (404127145).

Two international-rate postal cards feature the same designs as the postage stamps. The product numbers are 262510 for the postal card with the design of the permanent rate stamp, and 262511 for the card with the $2.71 stamp design.

Canada Post serviced 21,000 first-day covers bearing the permanent stamp (404126121) and 22,000 FDCs for the souvenir sheet of one (404126144). The pictorial postmark is from Toronto, Ontario.

Canada Post stamps and related items are available online. Stamps and FDCs are available by mail order from Canada Post Customer Service, Box 90022, 2701 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, ON K1V 1J8 Canada; or by telephone from the United States or Canada at 800-565-4362, and from other countries at 902-863-6550.

They also are available from many new-issue stamp dealers, and from Canada Post’s agent in the United States: Interpost, Box 400, Hewlett, NY 11557.

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