Ten-dollar blue whale is one enormous stamp

Canada's newest stamp is really big in every sense of the word. At $10, it carries the highest face value of any Canadian postage stamp. At 128 by 49 millimetres (about five by two inches) it is the largest stamp ever issued by Canada Post.

The stamp features a blue whale. Reaching more than 30 metres in length and weighing up to 180 metric tonnes, it is the largest animal known to have existed, outclassing even the dinosaurs.

The stamp is the latest in a series of high-value definitive stamps that began in 1997 with the release of the $8 issue showing a grizzly bear. For 13 years, that stamp had held the record as the country's highest value postage. The $10 blue whale, double the length of the grizzly bear stamp, has taken the title from it, both in value and size.

Like the grizzly bear and other definitives that preceded it, the blue whale stamp was produced using a combination of printing techniques. They include intaglio and silkscreen for the whale and offset lithography for the colours in the background.

"The intaglio process was recently reinvented using a new, state-of-the-art laser engraving technology," said Alain Leduc, manager of stamp design and production at Canada Post. The image of the whale is the work of master engraver Jorge Peral. Peral also engraved many of the wildlife definitives issued earlier, including the moose, loon and white-tailed deer.

Due to its high value, several security features are used in the new $10 stamp. The whale's scientific name (Balaenoptera musculus) is written in intaglio micro printing. As well, a large cluster of krill (the whale's food of choice) and a diver are printed in tagging that can only be seen using ultraviolet light.

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