The large and magnificent Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) is the perfect complement to Canada Post’s latest high-value definitive, this denominated at $4.
Produced by a combination of lithography and intaglio, the stamp was designed and engraved by Canadian Bank Note master engraver Jorge Peral with illustration provided by his son, Rodrigo Peral. The elder Peral’s work has graced several high-value definitives and other stamps as well as paper currency issued by Canada and other countries.
“Every artist has different goals. I love to make something that the public can appreciate with the bare eye,” said the elder Peral, who added one of the biggest challenges in creating an intaglio stamp is finding the right level of detail.
With too little detail, the intricate beauty of a subject – such as the fine fleece of the sheep or the grass bent gently in the breeze – can be lost. With too much detail, it can only be appreciated under a magnifying glass.
The stamp, which was issued Oct. 10, was created using both lithographic and intaglio printing. The background was created using lithography, the process used to create most modern Canadian stamps. This base was then overprinted with a four-colour intaglio plate that added the detailed engraving of the sheep, mountains and foliage. At one time, all Canadian stamps were engraved or intaglio; lithography was introduced to Canadian postage in 1952. As with previous stamps in the high-value series, the stamp incorporates hidden security features.
The intaglio plates were created by the elder Peral, who worked on other stamps, including the $8 grizzly that launched the wildlife series in 1997 and the $10 blue whale from 2010.
Peral has also engraved paper currency in Canada and several other countries.
NATIVE TO NORTH AMERICA
Bighorn sheep inhabit the mountain ranges from British Columbia and Alberta south to Colorado and New Mexico. With balance-aiding split hooves and rough hoof bottoms for natural grip, they are known for their ability to climb in high, steep rocky terrain. Rams, the male of the subspecies like the one featured on the stamp, have long curled horns while ewes have shorter, curved horns. They feed on grasses or low-growing vegetation found on slopes where they can spot and escape predators, such as bears, wolves and cougars.
Overhunting, loss of habitat and transfer of diseases from domestic livestock significantly reduced the numbers of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Thanks to recent conservation efforts, some populations have increased and stabilized, but the bighorn sheep – still vulnerable to disease and habitat loss – is designated as a special concern in British Columbia.
PANE OF FOUR
The issue includes a pane of four gummed stamps (souvenir sheet) and a single stamp official first-day cover, both designed by David Craib, of Parable Communications. Also being issued are an uncut press sheet with nine panes of four stamps signed by master engraver Peral; a framed and numbered lithographic print with the stamp signed by Rodrigo Peral; and a framed enlargement of the stamp image alongside the actual stamp.
The new issue is available in four-stamp panes as well as an uncut press sheet of nine panes, each with four stamps. An official first-day cover cancelled in Jasper, Alta., was also released as part of the new issue, which was printed by Canadian Bank Note.
1953 BIGHORN STAMP
A four-cent stamp (Scott #324) depicting a bighorn sheep was issued by Canada’s Post Office Department (now Canada Post) in 1953. Designed by iconic Canadian sculptor Emanuel Hahn, the stamp was engraved by Silas Robert Allen and printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company.