Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Island artist creates cancel stamp image

A new cancel stamp is in use at the Ganges Post Office, attracting interest from philatelists across the globe — and designed by a local wildlife artist often known for his work being featured on gold and silver coins from the Royal Canadian Mint. 

Allan Hancock said his love for nature and the outdoors was launched when he was quite young, thanks to his grandfather William — Hancock works professionally as W. Allan Hancock. 

“He was a big outdoorsman,” said Hancock. “When I was a kid, he’d take me out into the bush all the time. That’s a big part of my love for the outdoors.” 

Hancock’s artwork has appeared at Canada House Gallery in Banff and White Rock Gallery, as well as on Salt Spring Island at Gallery 8. It first appeared on coins thanks to an unexpected phone call from a project manager at the mint who had seen his work.

“Honestly, at first I thought it was just a joke,” he said. “I didn’t think that it was a serious phone call.” 

But after having returned to provide imagery for more than a dozen coins, typically selected from among artists Canada-wide who submit designs — and most recently a pure gold bullion piece featuring a pair of polar bears — Hancock said he was grateful to have been so fortunate. He and his family moved from the Comox Valley to Salt Spring nearly 13 years ago, after coming to the island for a book launch at ArtSpring, and it was another phone call, this time from Ganges postmaster Heather Adshead, that brought him in for the cancel stamp.  

Salt Spring Island cancel stamp with orca image created by artist Allan Hancock.

“It’s been a fun project,” said Hancock. “And it’s something a little bit different.” 

A “cancel” is an inked stamp, imprinted over postage to indicate the value has been used to mail something — showing the date a letter or parcel was mailed and the post office where it was processed. Hancock said Adshead had warned him that some previous stamps in her experience would clog with ink, particularly around fine details. 

“I always had to clean the old one, if you wanted to get all the ocean on it,” said Adshead. “You’d have to clean out the letters. We’d have to wash it. 

“I tried to keep that in mind,” said Hancock, and he designed the new stamp from a photo he had taken from his kayak, featuring the killer whales lucky islanders see from Salt Spring’s shoreline.  

“Orcas are wonderful, and it’s always exciting to see them, even from the ferry.” 

Adshead, who noted she had requested the whales, said customers have enjoyed the new cancel. Collectors have been sending return envelopes with a request for the new stamp to be carefully pressed on them to mail back — just cancelling the stamp, but not covering the picture. 

“When you’re doing one for collectors, you have to press very evenly and make sure all the edges go down without smearing or smudging,” said Adshead. “You have to only hit the corner of the stamp.” 

And they’re going all over the world. 

“Everybody loves it so far,” said Adshead. “Everybody wants one. I think there’s 12 years on each stamp, so there’s plenty of time.”

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