Nestlé Turtles stamp pokes its head out

A corporate use of picture postage has created a stir in the stamp collecting community. In early November, Canada Post outlets started selling packages of Turtles chocolate candies with prepaid postage using the new oversize-rate stamp that is now part of the picture postage series. It was the first use of the new rate, which was announced earlier in the year. Originally it had been planned to take effect Nov. 5, but that launch was rescheduled to Dec. 3. The Turtles stamp features what Canada Post describes as a vintage turtle created in a dots design, with the $1.29 rate. Canada Post spokesperson Anick Losier told Canadian Stamp News that the packages were being sold in about 4,000 post offices for $4.95. Among those selling the packages was the Canada Post booth at the Canadian Stamp Dealers’ Association show in Toronto in November.

The example illustrated here was sent to CSN by Brian Grant-Duff, of All Nations Coin and Stamp in Vancouver. Although being sold through some post offices, the new stamp was ordered and paid for by Nestlé. Losier said the sales would not be offered as a stand-alone item, or through the National Philatelic Centre. She said that Nestlé ordered “over 100,000 stamps for their packaging.” Losier did supply an image of a sheet of 50 stamps, an item that collectors are not likely to ever hold in their hands. Under the new program, as described in the Oct. 9 Canadian Stamp News, picture postage is now available with 12 new designs, four rates, and three new formats. Canadians can choose between permanent domestic rate, United States rate, international rate, and oversize rate. The different formats are sheets of 25 stamps plus souvenir sheets of 50, sheets of 50, and booklets of 12. Booklets can have a different image on the cover than used on the stamp and a personalized caption.

In addition, personalized postage stamps can be produced in both landscape and portrait orientation. The total number of variations, just comparing frames, rates, and formats, comes to nearly 100 possibilities. It’s potentially a daunting challenge for collectors, since some rates are most likely to be used on mail not destined for Canadian recipients. The program has been expanded to include customizable postcards and greeting cards, as well as invitations and envelopes. At this time there are 10 greeting card formats and 13 postcard formats. The invitations, announcement cards, RSVP cards, and envelopes are expected to be available early in 2013. Losier confirmed that Canada Post has changed picture postage suppliers, for the first time since the program was created. Starting with the new program, picture postage will be printed by Lowe-Martin rather than Canadian Bank Note Company. Picture postage can now be created and ordered online, through Canada Post, or using the corporation’s smartphone app.

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