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Year of the Ram

Chinese New Year

Stamp Info

Name Value
Date of Issue January 3, 2003
Year 2003
Quantity 1,600,000
Perforation or Dimension 13.5 vertical
Series Chinese New Year
Series Time Span 1997 - 2021
Printer Lowe-Martin Company Inc..
Postal Administration Canada

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Stamp Price Values

Condition Name Avg Value
Mint - Never Hinged - Very Fine Only available to paid users
Used - Very Fine Only available to paid users
* Notes about these prices:
  • They are not based on catalogue values but on current dealer and auction listings. The reason for this is that catalogues tend to over-value stamps.
  • They are average prices. The actual value of your stamp may be slightly above or below the listed value, depending on the overall condition of your stamp. Use these prices as a guide to determine the approximate value of your stamps.

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Hidden Date

The hidden date for this stamp can be found in the top-left corner.

Interesting Details

The image of the ram is embossed onto the stamp.

The perforation has a straight-cut section.


Souvenir sheet

Quantity Produced - 1,600,000
Current Purchase Price: Only available to paid users
Original Purchase Price: $1.25
Perforation: 13+
Dimension: 127 mm x 103 mm (vertical)
Printing Process: Lithography in 9 colours, plus foil stamping, embossing and diecutting
Gum Type: P.V.A.
Tagging: General, 4 sides
Paper: Tullis Russell Coatings
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Uncut press sheet of 12 souvenir sheets

Quantity Produced - 35,000
Original Purchase Price: $26.95
Perforation: 13+
Dimension: 760 mm x 580 mm (horizontal)
Gum Type: P.V.A.
Tagging: General, 4 sides
Paper: Tullis Russell Coatings
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Official First Day Cover

Quantity Produced - Unknown
Original Purchase Price: $2.25
Cancellation Location: Vancouver BC
Perforation: 13+
Gum Type: P.V.A.
Tagging: General, 4 sides
Paper: Tullis Russell Coatings
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About Stamp

Excitement is building as Chinese communities get ready to usher in the Year of the Ram, commencing February 1st, 2003 and ending January 21st, 2004. Preparations begin as early as a month before the new year, with people spending lavishly on presents, decorations, food and clothing. Family members busily plan for a family reunion. Houses are cleaned from top to bottom in hopes of sweeping away ill fortune and making way for good luck. Doors and windows are decorated with lucky words such as 'happiness,' 'wealth,' 'longevity,' and 'fruitful marriage.' Canada Post proudly celebrates the Year of the Ram with the issue of a domestic rate ($0.48) stamp, available in a pane of 25, and a souvenir sheet of one ($1.25) international rate stamp.

The Ancient Lunar Calendar
Based on exact astronomical observations of the longitude of the sun and the phases of the moon, a traditional lunar calendar is of a 60-year cycle, with each year divided into 12 months of either 29 or 30 days. As the name suggests, a lunar month begins with the new moon. The beginning of a new year is calculated according to the second new moon following the winter solstice, and can fall anywhere from mid-January to mid-February. Although the Chinese have adopted the Gregorian calendar of the West, the lunar calendar is important for determining festivals and is a useful tool for farmers deciding the proper time for planting and harvesting. The calendar is based on a 12-year cycle, with each year named after a particular animal in the Chinese zodiac.

The Tale of Nian
Several explanations of the lunar new year's origin exist. It is commonly agreed that the word Nian, which means 'year' in modern Chinese, was originally the name of a beast that preyed on people the night before the beginning of a new year. The tradition of observing the conquest of Nian has been passed from generation to generation and includes a number of customs and practices. Putting up red paper and setting off firecrackers to scare away the monster still persists today.

New Year Traditions
The eve of the new year is carefully observed; supper is a feast, with all family members attending. Afterwards, the family will play games together and watch the sky light up with firecrackers and fireworks at midnight. The atmosphere is charged with excitement. The following morning, children receive money in special red pockets, and the next several days are filled with reconciliation and visiting friends to exchange gifts. The Festival of Lanterns, an occasion of lantern shows, lion and dragon dances, and festive parades, takes place on the 15th day of the celebrations.

The Ram
Because rams are usually seen as animals that bring good luck, they're used in many festivals and celebrations. In some places, such as Mongolia, they are customarily given as gifts to teens becoming adults, as they are a symbol of goodness and long life. Sheep are also given as engagement or wedding gifts, and are used as the main course in banquets. Lamb's wool is seen as top-quality material for clothing, worn by emperors in days gone by. It was also worn by officials during meetings with the emperor, as it was associated with the calm, uncorrupted and benevolent nature of the ram.

The Ram Characteristics
People born in the Year of the Ram are believed to be elegant, creative, and highly accomplished in the arts. They're also sensitive, romantic dreamers, often shy, pessimistic and puzzled about life. Usually deeply religious and timid by nature, rams are often awkward in speech but passionate about what they do and believe in. It is said that those born under this sign need never worry about having the best in life, as their abilities allow them to make enough money to obtain the comforts they enjoy.

A Celebration in Design
This is the first stamp project for Three Degrees Creative in Vancouver. Rosina Li, Chris Reid, and Jason Li bring a collective wealth of formal design training and skills in traditional fine arts to this creative endeavour, which features two original sculptures by Reid. Rosina Li explains that there is no distinction between sheep and goats in Chinese; hence the two different sculptures. To both complement and contrast the soft, stylized shapes of the sculptures, bright-red and golden-orange (traditional colours of the New Year) are used in the background together with special foil stamping and embossing treatment on each stamp design. The textures emulate flowing silk, an effect enhanced by soft illumination during the photo shoot with Raeff Miles of Vancouver. This lighting created a feel of tranquility and calmness - characteristics associated with the ram. On both the stamps and souvenir sheet, the Chinese characters on the left read 'Year of the Ram.'

About Stamp Series

Canada Post started issuing Chinese New Year stamps in 1997. Since then, Canada Post has been issuing a stamp for the Chinese New Year each year.


From 2009 to 2020, Canada Post issued an exquisite Chinese New Year stamp that was part of one of Canada Post’s most popular and longest-running series, which featured such elaborate techniques as gold and silver foiling and multi-level embossing.

In 2021, Canada Post issued a special tribute to the culmination of more than a decade of award-winning stamps. This retrospective brought together in a single issue all the stamps from their 2009-2020 Lunar New Year series.

The Lunar New Year cycle showcased all of the animals in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Conceived well before the series was launched, this collection features 24 stamps based on the designs of all the previous domestic and international rate stamps in the last 12 years.

“Even before we began this series of Lunar New Year stamps, we envisioned bringing them all together for a grand finale,” explains Jim Phillips, Director of Stamp Services. “That required a plan from the very beginning. We developed standardized specifications that made the stamps consistent across issues in terms of dimension, format and palette, but still allowed sufficient creative freedom for each to be spectacular in its own right.”

Brought together by Paprika from Montréal, these eye-catching stamps feature the work of the many design firms and designers who contributed to the series over the years. The result is a unique collectible that is a fitting tribute to Lunar New Year celebrations everywhere.


Designed, illustrated and calligraphed by Rosina Li Based on a sculpture and an illustration by Christopher Reid Based on an illustration by Jason Li Based on a photograph by Raeff Miles

Similar Stamps


Canada Post Corporation. Canada's Stamp Details, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2003, p. 6-9.

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