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.
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 United States Dorothy Height commemorative forever stamp will be issued nationwide February 1.
The first-day-of-issue ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. in the Cramton Auditorium at Howard University, 2455 Sixth St., N.W., Washington, D.C. The ceremony is free and open to the public, but space is limited. To obtain free tickets, visit the Cramton Auditorium Box Office of reserve by phone at 202-806-7194 (Box Office Hours: Monday–Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
Here is information about the Dorothy Height commemorative stamp courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service:
Dorothy Height (Black Heritage series)
The 40th stamp in the Black Heritage series honors Dorothy Height (1912-2010), the tireless activist who dedicated her life to fighting for racial and gender equality. Although she rarely gained the recognition granted her male contemporaries, she became one of the most influential civil rights leaders of the 20th century. The stamp features artist Thomas Blackshear II’s gouache and acrylics on board portrait of Height. The painting is based on a 2009 photograph shot by Lateef Mangum. Art director Derry Noyes designed the stamp.
Today, December 13, is the National Day of the Horse, a day annually observed in appreciation for the contribution of horses to the economy, history and character of the country. The domesticated horse we know today was first introduced into North America by Spanish explorers.
Escaped horses eventually spread across the American Great Plains and were later domesticated by the early settlers of the West. Horses played a significant role in postal history, delivering mail and messages for many years. In the early days of U.S. mail when there became a great demand for a more timely transportation of public correspondence, riders on horseback, known as “post riders,” would be contracted to take small bundles of mail and packages, first along post roads and later, through a series of relays, across the country.
Mail transported by horse briefly reduced the time for mail to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to around 10 days before being replaced by the Transcontinental Railroad and then the telegraph.