Lunar New Year stamps continue long-running series

After one final bark from the Year of the Dog, the Year of the Pig will trot into the limelight on Feb. 5 before squealing to a stop on Jan. 24, 2020.

As part of the 11th issue in Canada Post’s second 12-year Lunar New Year series, two stamps celebrate this porcine sign, which also ruled the Chinese zodiac in 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971 and 1959. Those born under it are said to be frank, forthright and trusting.

Iconic calligrapher Albert Ng and illustrator Seung Jai Paek, who was Ng’s student at York University before graduating in 2002, designed the stamps, which were unveiled yesterday and issued nationwide today. They are based on the story of Zhu Bajie, a colourful character from the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West. A once-powerful figure in heaven, Pigsy – as he came to be known – was banished for misbehaviour to life on Earth as a human-pig hybrid.

“I’ve worked on several Lunar New Year stamps, but when you work on stamp projects you’re not always selected,” said Ng, who was born and educated in Hong Kong before immigrating to Canada in 1974.

He was also only the second graphic designer to be inducted into the Order of Ontario.

“The good thing is if you are chosen, it’s an honour.”

The Permanent domestic-rate stamp features a proud Pigsy clad in heavenly armour and clutching an enormous nine-toothed muckrake.

The international stamp shows him lounging in more modest attire.

The 2019 Lunar New Year stamps (domestic booklet shown above), these celebrating the Year of the Pig, were issued nationwide today following yesterday’s unveiling ceremony in Scarborough, Ont.

UNCUT PRESS SHEET

As with past years, a 25-stamp pane and an uncut press sheet of 12 souvenir sheets are adorned with auspicious messages offering blessings for the new year.

When asked about their significance, Ng said he followed one principal – to be meaningful – in choosing them

“Another challenge,” he added, “was to select sayings that were acceptable to both Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking audiences.”

The new issue is also available in booklets of 10 stamps (domestic); booklets of six stamps (international); souvenir sheets; two-stamp transitional souvenir sheets; as well as an official first-day cover (OFDC) and a souvenir sheet OFDC, both cancelled in Markham, Ont.

A 50-stamp uncut press sheet with 12 souvenir sheets is also being offered to collectors.

The souvenir sheet OFDC is sold unsealed, owing to the Chinese New Year custom of giving money in a red pouch.

The issue was printed by Colour Innovations using a variety of printing processes, including:

  • six-colour lithography plus embossing and one-foil stamping (pane of 25 stamps);
  • six-colour lithography (booklet of 10 stamps);
  • five-colour lithography plus one-foil stamping (booklet of six stamps); and
  • five-colour lithography plus embossing and one-foil stamping (all three souvenir sheets).

    Corner blocks of four (upper left shown above) were also issued today as part of the new release.

Pane corners, including an upper-left corner, upper-right corner, lower-left corner and lower-right corner, are also available singly, in sets and as OFDCs with all four corner variations.

Both a domestic and an international postcard are also being sold.

Limited-edition framed stamps (600 available), a framed souvenir sheet enlargement (350 available) and a framed uncut press sheet (350 available), the latter of which is signed and numbered, were also produced.

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