Israel officially is a Jewish state, so it is no real surprise that the nation has never issued a Christmas stamp.
However, Israel recognizes that it is the cradle of Christianity, attracts many Christian visitors and is home to Christian holy sites.
In response, Israel has since 1992 issued Christmas postage vending machine labels that have included images both religious — Mary and the Baby Jesus and angels — and secular, with the likes of decorated Christmas trees, wrapped gifts, and even Santa Claus.
Until 2004, the ATM labels were printed on a German Klussendorf vending machine and some earlier issues and varieties are scarce. An Israel Doarmat machine has been used since. Some of the earliest varieties are scarce. An Israel Doarmat machine has been used since.
Shown philatelic items from Israel are a blank (nondenominated) 2011 label; a 2015 cover canceled on Christmas Eve, and a 2016 ATM stamp.
It certainly is not unusual to find animals on Christmas stamp, especially considering that Jesus was said to have been born (or at least placed) in a manger. So, it’s common to find a donkey (Mary’s transportation), camels (the Magi’s transportation), and sheep (brought by the shepherds) on religious Christmas stamps.
And, once Santa Claus entered the picture, animals such as reindeer were naturals. But modern designs have given us plenty of other creatures, often as whimsical characters, including dancing woodland creatures – such as rabbits and porcupines — not to mention cap-wearing moose, scarf-robed polar bears, and sea creatures of the South Pacific.
One of our favorite Christmas animals sets is depiction of Santa as a lion and his sled-pullers of other “flying” African animals, including a zebra and a hippo.
Dancing woodland creatures show up around the Christmas tree on this 2008 stamp from Finland.
A religious-themed U.S. stamp from 2014 includes the Wise Men and their camels.
South Africa Christmas stamps of 2006 re-imagine Santa and his reindeer as African animals.
The 2015 Canada Christmas stamps feature animals dressed in winter attire.
Modern holiday stamps from Christmas Island often include marine life, such as this 2014 stamp.
Christmas is celebrated in many ways throughout the world so it’s no surprise that the philately for the holiday includes thousands of stamps and covers, most created since the mid-20th century. The Christmas theme is among the world’s most popular topical areas to collect. So, in the spirit of Christmas giving, the APS blog team is presenting 10 holiday-themed blog posts. Happy holidays.
First Christmas Stamps
Whenever we talk about “firsts,” a lot of contenders line up to make claims so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of firsts when it comes to Christmas stamps. That said, there’s little doubt that Canada can claim the first Christmas postage stamp connection, even if the stamp was not intended to specifically celebrate the holiday.
The 1898 2-cent stamp features a collage of Queen Victoria’s crown at the top, a Mercator map of the world with the nations and colonies of the British Empire displayed in red, “Xmas 1898” and the phrase, “We hold a vaster empire than has been.”
It was Canada’s first bicolor stamp and has major color varieties involving the colors of the ocean and land (Scott 85–86).
But why does it say “Xmas 1898?” The stamp was issued December 7 and its use went into effect December 25, 1898, the inauguration of the Imperial Penny Postage rate (which was 2 cents in Canadian funds).
There is an oft-repeated story that Canadian Postmaster General William Mulock developed the stamp and proposed that it be issued on November 9 to “honor the prince,” meaning the Prince of Wales. But when Queen Victoria asked “what Prince?” in a displeased manner, Mulock realized the danger, and answered “Why, madam, the Prince of Peace.”
The APS recently received an e-mail from Bo Overgaard-Hoeifeldt, Head of Sales and Marketing for PostNord Stamps, about upcoming changes related to Danish and Swedish stamps affecting stamp soaking and special markings.
“As always, when it comes to the philatelic part of our business, changes in production and postal use of our stamps are always reflected directly in our philatelic products,” said Overgaard-Hoeifeldt.
“The changes are expected to take place within the first half of 2017 when Cartor/Walsall Security Printers (WSP) will print the first stamps for us. As soon as I know which issue will be the first I will inform you. The reason for this uncertainty is, that we try to print as much as possible at our existing print house in Stockholm simply to use all the raw materials we already have in stock there,” said Overgaard-Hoeifeldt.
The changes noted by PostNord specifically included the following for stamp soaking:
“It will no longer be possible to remove the stamps from envelopes and postcards. This change is introduced to reduce fraud, where stamps are being reused. This change is only related to self adhesive stamps — until further notice our minisheet will be printed on gummed paper and thus they will still be removable after soaking.”
And this in regards to special markings:
“There will no more be special markings on sheets and rolls (cylinder numbers, colour markings etc.). This change is made simply because these features are not needed at Cartor/WSP’s production.”