1999 – 2000 Millenium Keepsake 95¢

© Canada Post Corporation {1999}. Reproduced with Permission

This stamp was part of the Millenium Keepsake, a set of three stamps designed to, “bid farewell to the second millennium and usher in the third, paying homage to printers, who began producing stamps in the 19th century and now stand poised to take postage into the twenty-first”*. All three stamps featured the dove of peace, but each was created to celebrate a different printing technique: the 55¢ denomination used lithography (the most common technique today), the 46¢ stamp featured a ‘futuristic’ hologram and the 95¢ stamp shown here, utilized the dying art of engraving.

In the early days of Canada Post, engraving was the primary method of producing stamps. Today, this laborious technique is increasingly rare and in this context the design seems utterly refreshing and exciting. While the stamp celebrates the style of Canada’s Victorian era stamps, the aesthetic is modern. In particular, the over-the-top scrollwork, which has a level of detail and three-dimensionality that you won’t find in any of Canada’s early stamps.

Interestingly, all of the printing techniques used in this series (and sometimes letterpress too) are used in the design of modern bank notes. Because it produces raised ink, which makes forgery more difficult, hand engraving still figures prominently (although, computer aided engraving is making inroads). No surprise then that Jorge Peral, who designed and engraved this stamp is the Art Director of the Canadian Bank Note Company. You may recognize his design work from the Canadian Journey series (the current Canadian bills) and his engravings of Macdonald (on the $10) and the Queen ($20).

Sources: *Canada Post Corporation, Canada’s Stamp Details, Vol. 8, No. 5, 1999, p.21-23The Art and Design of Canadian Bank Notes, Bank of Canada, December 2006

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