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The World’s First Christmas Stamp

The World’s First Christmas Stamp

Canada #85 – Canada’s first Christmas stamp. Click the image to order.

On December 7, 1898, Canada issued what many consider to be the world’s first Christmas stamp.

In 1898, Imperial Penny Postage was established in Canada, lowering the postage rate from 3¢ to 2¢.  New stamps were needed, and it became Postmaster General William Mulock’s duty to present the design to Queen Victoria for approval.

Canada #86 – About 10 million of each version were printed. Click the image to order.

The new stamp featured a world map with Great Britain’s territories highlighted.  Mulock reportedly suggested issuing the stamp on November 9 “in honor of the prince [of Wales],” but Queen Victoria made her displeasure known immediately, replying “what prince?”  She and her oldest son had a notoriously rocky relationship since Prince Albert’s death in 1861.  The Queen is said to have blamed her son and the stress caused by his “playboy prince” reputation for his father’s death.

Canada #85-86 – Get both of the Canada stamps together.  Click the image to order.

Mullock was able to turn the meeting around by replying “Why, madam, the prince of peace.”  Proposing the new stamp honor Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ satisfied Queen Victoria and she approved the new stamp for issue December 7.  This was the first Canada stamp to feature multiple colors.  The new rate would go into effect on Christmas Day.

The initial printing had a lavender background with the highlighted sections in carmine.  A later printing changed the background color to blue, though there are several shades known to exist between the two colors. 

Canada #434-35 – Canada’s second Christmas issue from 1964. Click the image to order.

It would be several years before other countries issued Christmas stamps.  And Canada didn’t issue another Christmas stamp until 1964.  But today, most countries issue Christmas and other holiday stamps every year.

Click here for lots more Christmas stamps from around the world.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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