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Canada Releases World's First
Christmas Stamp - 1898

by David L. Newman

Takes a licking and keeps on sticking...Daves192-big.jpg

In 1840, the Penny Black started the most popular hobby on earth. This was the world's first adhesive postage stamp and was issued by Great Britain. Before this point, postmasters would write the amount paid in postage on the envelope or hand stamp the envelope "PAID" or a combination thereof. Once the postal administrators of other countries saw how well the adhesive stamp worked they started to issue their own stamps.  Canada's first stamp was the 3 penny Beaver, designed by Sir Sanford Fleming and issued in 1851. For almost sixty years no Daves191.jpgone in the world thought to issue a Christmas stamp until December 7, 1898, when Canada issued what is known by philatelists (stamp collectors) as the"Map Stamp". Designed by William Mulock, the Postmaster General of Canada, the stamp shows the earth as if it were flat. The countries that were dependencies of Great Britain were printed in red. 20,000,000 stamps were issued; half with blue oceans and the other half with a green ocean look. Why, is not known. Along the bottom of the stamp was the slogan,"WE HOLD A VASTER EMPIRE THAN HAS BEEN". At that time Britain held the largest empire on earth.  Daves193.jpg

The only clue that this is a Christmas stamp is the word XMAS1898 near the bottom centre of the stamp. No Santa, reindeer, or wreathes.

Sixty-six years passed before Canada issued another Christmas stamp. In 1964 Canada Post issued a red (3 cent) and a blue (5 cent) stamp with a family featured on each. After that, Canada Post made it a tradition to issue Christmas stamps.

Daves194.jpgIf you would like to learn more about Canada's First Christmas stamp or, how you can start stamp collecting, come to an Essex County Stamp Club meeting. We welcome visitors including beginners to advanced collectors. Meetings are held at Glenwood Church, 1825 Grand Marais West, Windsor at 7 pm. Second & fourth Wednesdays of the month except July, August & December.


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