Sunday, May 08, 2011


Cards on the table: I like stamps. I don't collect them or anything, but I like the design of stamps. The Canadian stamp museum can be found within the walls of the National Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, and that is where I spend the bulk of my time when I visit that institution.

I've been working a few hours a week at a friend's accounting business (she does peoples' taxes - it's a busy time of year) and one of my favourite duties is buying stamps. Because we send out a lot of differently-weighted parcels, I need lots of small-denomination stamps. Happily, Canada Post has a fantastic line of low-value stamps called "Beneficial Insects." It features beautiful insects with multi-penny denominations, the values of which are listed with a stylish overhang the edge of the stamp.

There is also a line of stamps (which borders on saccharine) which features baby animals. It bothers me a little that the animals are not named on the individual stamps, let alone given a genus species, but forget it! Look! Baby geese! Awww!

Here are some other of my favourites: a commemoration of the Terra Nova National Park's centennial (my grandfather worked there!), the homemade beauty and simplicity of Mary Pratt's photorealism (right), and this real stunner from this year (above).

I give this praise so I can chastise, too.

Canada Post came out with commemorative stamp for the recent royal wedding, and, I'm sorry, Canada Post, but it is a true fail. It is a failure to do something really interesting. Something stylish and innovative. A beautiful line drawing, or an abstract, or something that relates back to Canada. Nope. It's a cut-and-paste, phoned-in effort, with two press-release photos of the engagement announcement. Perhaps they didn't have enough time to commission something good. Perhaps they blew their design budget on some beautiful portraits last year. (I know, that should be in the praise section of this rant, shouldn't it?)

Maybe they just shouldn't have commemorated this event at all if they couldn't put their backs into it. I suppose there's some precedent: look at the lacklustre celebration of the Girl Guides' centennial and the marginally better Scouts' 100.

Either way, this maybe this isn't the best platform to send along this disappointment for a missed opportunity, but there 'tis.


LuLu said...

Great post. Stamps are not something I usually think about but now I'm reflecting on all of the stamps I've used in Canada and abroad and trying to remember which were my favourites (which are also the ones I saved as long as I could, but eventually would have to go on something). I also want a set of Mary Pratt's images to go on my wall.

Oh, and my vote for what Canada Post should have used for the Royal Wedding:

Catherine said...

I want that mug! I wish shipping was less! Or nil!

LuLu said...

I know! But it's less with another item, right? So if we ordered two and negotiated with the seller....

H. said...

I'm okay with them doing the minimum effort on this extravaganza, I think. Yes, the stamps are dull and pointless, but a wedding taking place in some other country is not really something I want Canada Post to blow a huge amount of effort on.

Besides, no matter what they put on the stamp, the weirdos who actually collect Royal stuff would buy it regardless, so no great effort is required.

Finally, what super-cool image could they have used? You have two rich and deemed-attractive people engaged, and that's what they show. I don't know what other attributes they could have highlighted, since that seems to be the sum total of their story.

Better they save the real portraits for Canadians, in my opinion.

Catherine said...

I just think they could have been much more creative. It's an E for Effort, but disappointing knowing what I've seen from them.