‘Lunar New Year Cycle’ leads 2021 stamp program

By Jesse Robitaille

Canada’s first stamp of the new year, dubbed “Lunar New Year Cycle,” is slated for release on Jan. 15.

Featuring the dozen designs from Canada Post’s 2009-20 Lunar New Year series – its second 12-year series on the subject – the new issue was designed by Montréal’s Paprika, which brought together the work of the series’ various designers.

“Even before we began this series of Lunar New Year stamps, we envisioned bringing them all together for a grand finale,” Jim Phillips, director of stamp services, is quoted as saying in the January 2021 Details magazine. “That required a plan from the very beginning.”

The most recent 12-year series began in 2009, following another series that ran from 1997-2008. Both long-running issues featured each of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, including (in sequential order) the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each year, two stamps – both a domestic and international rate – were issued.

The latest series’ stamps – 24 in total – are now repurposed on a 12-stamp pane featuring the domestic issues plus a 12-stamp booklet with all of the international issues (the latter of which are recreated as Permanent domestic-rate stamps). An uncut press sheet with 12 souvenir sheets is also available, with each of the stamps paying the international rate of $2.71.

“We developed standardized specifications that made the stamps consistent across issues in terms of dimension, format and palette,” Phillips added, “but still allowed sufficient creative freedom for each to be spectacular in its own right.”

All three formats – booklet, pane and press sheet – were printed by Ottawa’s Low-Martin on PVA gum. A total of 250,000 booklets were printed using eight-colour lithography; 50,000 panes were printed using seven-colour lithography plus embossing and one foil stamping; and 8,000 press sheets were printed using eight-colour lithography, embossing and one foil stamping.

While the new issue’s designs are similar, they are “not identical” to their predecessors, according to Canada Post, meaning those 36 stamps slated for issue on Jan. 15 might be required for a complete Lunar New Year collection.

“Stamp designs and printing processes are based on, but not identical to, the original designs,” reads the latest issue of Details.

A limited run of 350 framed uncut press sheets plus 700 framed panes are also available to collectors.


Canada Post also recently announced the issue dates of its 2021 stamp program through April 15.

The “Lunar New Year Cycle” issue will be followed by the annual Black History Month stamps featuring Amber Valley, Alta., and Willow Grove, N.B., on Jan. 22.

A set of stamps dubbed “Snow Mammals” will then be issued on Feb. 16.

In March, two issues are slated for release: “Crabapple Blossoms” is due on March 1, and a commemorative envelope honouring Edmonton’s Concordia University centennial will be issued on March 7.

Lastly, in April, Canada Post will release what it refers to as an “Award-Winning” stamp on April 8 followed by an issue commemorating the discovery of insulin on April 15.

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