Canada Post issues ‘stop selling’ Hanukkah covers and booklets

Star of David removed on reprint issues

By Jesse Robitaille

The day after being unveiled in Toronto, and only one day before it was slated to go on sale across the country, the new Hanukkah stamp issued by Canada Post was removed from display and returned to head office because of what the Crown corporation called “a design issue” with the stamp booklet and first-day cover.

Initially slated for release on Nov. 14 as a booklet of 10, the Hanukkah stamp was unveiled on Nov. 12 at the Starry Nights event held at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram and Bluma Appel Salon. However, according to a Canada Post memo sent to all dealer post offices on Nov. 13, entitled “IMPORTANT: Stop selling Hanukkah stamp products immediately,” the booklet (product code “414066111”) and official first-day cover (product code “414066131”) were ordered to be “immediately removed from display and returned.”

“These products are not to be sold to customers and they are also no longer available through mail order or online,” reads the memo, which also explains “the reprinted version” of the stamp booklets and OFDC would “be back on sale in the next coming weeks.” The products were to be returned no later than Nov. 22.

Post offices were also requested to remove the November 2017 issue of Details magazine, which featured the original Hanukkah products on page 10.

CANADA POST RESPONSE

Canada Post officials would not provide specific details on the “design issue” but clarified it was not an issue with the stamp but the actual booklet and OFDC. The newly reprinted booklet has been available online since Nov. 20 and in post offices since later that week. While the reprinted OFDC is available on Canada Post’s website, it will not be available at post offices until mid-December.

“There were no issues with the text or any misspelling,” added Canada Post media relations manager Phil Legault. “To resolve the design issue, we reprinted the booklet and the first-day cover.”

One of the major design differences noted by Canadian Stamp News is on the booklet cover; the original booklet depicts the Star of David while the reprinted booklet depicts the left-side arms of the menorah (the star has been removed).

Another difference on the booklet is with the printer’s colour blocks (also known as process control patches). On the original booklet the “blocks” are star-shaped while on the reprinted booklet they are circular. These colourful swatches indicate what colours are used to produce the booklet’s design, and the printer can use these coloured shapes to determine whether the booklet follows the required colour scheme. If a problem arises, the blocks allow the printer to determine if a deficiency or surplus of colour was the cause.

When CSN contacted Canada Post to inquire why the Star of David was removed in the reprinted version, Legault stated:

“We don’t typically get into details but can confirm that the cover design was changed from the lone image of the lit Shamash to the partial menorah to better reflect the celebration of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights which is the subject of the stamp. This stamp will be on sale for the next three years so it was important.”

The Star of David was also included on the seal flap of the original official first-day cover.

Because the OFDC will not be available until December, CSN is unable to determine the exact difference between the original cover and the reprinted cover; however, it’s assumed this alteration also relates to the Star of David, which is found on the centre of the top flap (also known as the seal flap).

In addition, the bar codes on the reprinted booklet and OFDC have also been updated to reflect the change. The original product code for the booklet was “414066111” but is now “414081111.” The original OFDC product code was “414066131” while the new code is “414081131.”

In its Nov. 13 memo, Canada Post explained to dealer post offices if customers “ask why these two products are currently not available, please inform them that the stamps and Official First Day Covers will be back on sale in the coming weeks.”

AVAILABLE ON EBAY

Despite being ordered back from all post offices across the country, some of these items were mistakenly sold at post offices, and some of these items are now available on eBay.

“As you can appreciate, having stamps and products in postal outlets ready for sale on the day of issue involves extensive logistics and co-ordination. The items arrive in store prior to the issue date in order to make that happen. Therefore, some product may have been sold by mistake even though we had pushed the on-sale date to Nov. 20.”

For example, there’s a listing for a “Rare Canada Hanukkah FDC Stamp 2017 Nov 14th” being offered by user “2014ramne” with an asking price of $500. Another listing from used “zmlbil-lcdnl6sh” is offering a “recalled” OFDC for $350.

Yet another listing from user “yabluko7” offers a lot of five “recalled” booklets for $250.

There are dozens of other listings, and while many sellers are describing the OFDCs and booklets as “rare,” their exact rarity is yet to be determined as it is unknown how many items were sold before the “stop selling” memo was issued by Canada Post. In the November Details magazine, it stated 300,000 booklets of 10 stamps and 12,000 OFDCs would be issued. Canada Post confirmed the quantity will remain the same for the reprinted versions of the booklet and OFDC.

The Hanukkah issue was designed by Angela Carter, of Entro Communications, and printed by Lowe-Martin.

1 Comment

  • wigeon44 says:

    In my opinion the recall is quite an embarrassment for the Federal government possibly because Jewish people invited to the official launch in Toronto that night were horrified by seeing the yellow star depicting their holy celebration of Hanukkah on the cover of the stamp booklet.

    A yellow Star of David patch has historically been used for centuries to identify Jews and shame them, most recently during Nazi German times when people were hauled off to the ghettos and death camps wearing a yellow cloth patch sewn onto their shirts.

    CBC and CTV news and your own outlet may wish to investigate this further with the minister and bureaucrats who lead the post office to see how such an error could occur, especially at this time of year. The post office needs a much more vigorous vetting system to ensure these kinds of insensitive “design errors” don’t ever occur.

    The recall of the stamp and reissuing will possibly have cost tax payers millions of dollars. The old Details magazine is still on PO shelves. Is it too to be pulled and reprinted?

    I would be interested in seeing you do further in depth investigation of this story to get to the real reason the stamps were pulled. If this is not your role then the large news outlets should be informed to look into this story further.

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