When was the first Christmas stamp issued?

The debate over the first seasonal stamp continues to rage...

Photo of a Canadian postage stamp

There was the decidedly un-festive map of the world marked ‘Xmas 1898’, created by the Canadian postal service, but it was not a special Christmas issue. In 1903, meanwhile, Danish postal clerk Einar Holbøll came up with the idea of a charity Christmas ‘seal’, though it wasn’t technically a stamp, just a nice extra.

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It wasn’t until 1937 that official greetings stamps were produced in Austria – yet some philatelists don’t even count these because they didn’t have religious themes, instead depicting a rose and the zodiac.

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For many purists, Hungary’s 1943 stamps showing the Nativity are the winners of the title. Britain got on board relatively late. Its first Christmas-themed postage stamp wasn’t printed until 1966, the brainchild of the Postmaster General – one Tony Benn.

This article was taken from BBC History Revealed magazine