5630 Dunbar St. at 41st Ave.

Canada 2008 Year of the Rat

Canada Post celebrates the Lunar New Year with two stamps honouring 2008 as the Year of the Rat. The twelfth set issued in the Lunar New Year series, the Rat marks the completion of one full cycle of the Chinese lunar calendar in stamps.

As if on cue, all twelve of the lunar calendar's animals appear on the Year of the Rat souvenir sheet, bearing gifts. They are guests at the wedding of the two featured characters. The bride, depicted on the domestic rate (52 ¢) stamp in rich purple attire, demurely holds a parasol against a golden background, while her groom appears on the international rate ($1.60) souvenir sheet stamp, costumed in dark blue, and holding a fan in one hand and a basket of tangerines in the other. The effect is opulent.

Year of the Rat"They are like little jewels," says Alain Leduc, Manager of Stamp Design and Production at Canada Post. "The colours are bold and daring, but the red and gold are traditional in Chinese culture. In style and colour this may be the most traditional of all twelve stamp designs."

For the stamps, Naomi Broudo and Violet Finvers of Tandem Design Associates in Richmond, B.C., chose a different story to portray this character's resourcefulness. In "The Mouse Bride," a Chinese folk tale widely known and well loved around the world, a father mouse searches for the strongest husband for his

daughter, interviewing the sun, wind, clouds and wall, but finally discovers the best candidate is a mouse from his own community. "This concept had great depth to it," says Broudo. "It allowed us to bring so many details into the design, and to incorporate other animals more prominently than had been done before."

Among the featured details are abstract representations of the failed suitors-sun, wind, clouds and wall in the background of each stamp. Along with the intense colours, the stamps are overprinted with shimmering highlights in both pearlescent and gold foils, and all the animals are delicately embossed. Each sheet of stamps passed four times through various presses to achieve this level of detail. The result is an almost tactile sense of richness and depth, like looking at silk.

VFNH International Rate Souvenir Sheet

$3.95 CDN

Order other sheets in the series here.

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The Domestic rate stamp is also available in a sheet of 25.
Year of the Rat
Year of the RatIllustrator Harvey Chan created these clever original images entirely on the computer, in a style reminiscent of traditional woodblock printing techniques. "Harvey takes a painterly approach, and there's a whimsical quality to his work, which was perfect for this project," says Broudo.

There's a sensitivity here you don't expect from computer work, a handwrought feel. It's a successful marriage, you might say, of old and new, of traditional and modern, that makes these stamps so appealing.

VFNH 2008 domestic rate sheet of 25

$25.95 CDN


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5630 Dunbar St. at 41st Ave.
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