Flag anniversary marked by first-ever fabric stamp

Canada’s first-ever fabric stamp is being issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag, on Feb. 15, 2015.

The $5 stamp is printed on a specialized satin rayon fabric, applied to a paper backer using adhesives and silicones. The backer is similar to, but thicker, than that used on most self-adhesive stamps. The material is produced by Wausau Coated Products, based in Wisconsin. The design is simple, a large Canadian flag, with the dates 1965-2015 in the lower left corner. The stamp also includes security features which glow when viewed under an ultra-violet light.

The high-value stamp is being issued on a souvenir sheet, and on an uncut press sheet. The press sheet is signed by Joan O’Malley, the person who sewed the first prototype of the Canadian flag.

A total of 1,000 uncut sheets have been printed. There are 300,000 souvenir sheets, which have red tagging.

The souvenir sheet stamp design is also used for the official first-day cover, which has an Ottawa cancel dated Feb. 15, 2015, printed in gold ink with a maple leaf design.

The use of cloth for a Canadian stamp is unique, with almost all Canadian stamps having been printed on paper with the exception of a $3 set of holographic stamps issued in 2009 for the Montreal Canadiens.

Because the silk material is new to postage stamps, there is no information on how well they will stand up to soaking, or cancelling.

Canadians wishing to celebrate the flag anniversary on regular mail can opt for a permanent-rate domestic stamp. That stamp, produced by Canadian Bank Note, using five-colour
lithography, shows a flag blowing in the breeze with a dark 50 in the sky behind and the dual dates in white.

The self-adhesive stamps are available in booklet form, with 500,000 booklets of 10 stamps produced.

As with other Canadian stamps it is printed on Tullis Russell paper, and has simulated perforations.

A second OFDC features the flag stamp, and various failed proposals for a national flag.

Prior to the Maple Leaf, Canada had no official flag but used Britain’s Union Flag (commonly referred to as the Union Jack). Adopted in 1965, the Canadian flag replaced the Union Flag, becoming the country’s first national flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use wherever it was desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag.

In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, who had long wanted a distinctive Canadian flag, formed a committee to resolve the issue, sparking a serious debate about a flag change. After a long process of discussion, the design came down to one of three choices. The maple leaf design by George Stanley, based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada, was selected.

The design was proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth II on Jan. 28, 1965, and was inaugurated on Feb. 15, of that year. Since 1996, Feb. 15 has been commemorated as National Flag of Canada Day.

The introduction of the flag was marked with a five-cent commemorative stamp, issued on June 30, 1965 (Unitrade #439), the stamp appeared on non-denominated postal cards issued in 2003 (Unitrade #UX131) and 2005 (#UX145).

The flag has been a frequent sight on Canadian stamps.

It flew over a map of Canada on a 1967 stamp for the centennial of Confederation (Unitrade #453).

It appeared in three values of definitive coil stamps issued from 1991 to 1995 (Unitrade #1394-1896). In 1992, the 125th anniversary of Confederation, the flag appeared on two booklet stamps, (Unitrade #1388-1389).

The series continues, with the present series of flags over Canadian UNESCO heritage sites.

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