December 21, 2012

Stained Glass

I was intrigued to find the following British aerogramme which was issued in 1970:

I like its design and find that the stained glass theme choice suits Christmas very well. Here's a closer look at the actual stamp image. It depicts a stained glass angel in East Harling, Norfolk, and makes for a gorgeous stamp, I think.

I was intrigued because the design choice had nothing to do with the regular Christmas stamp issue of that same year. The regular stamps depicted Nativity scenes from the Psalter of Robert De Lisle. You see, it was not until 1971 that the regular Christmas stamps depicted stained glass from various churches. The 1970 aerogramme must have been very popular for the 1971 stamps not only take the same theme but reflect the aerogramme design in all other ways as well. Here is the 2.5p showing the Dream of the Wise Men, from a stained glass window of Canterbury Cathedral.

Royal Mail repeated the stained glass Christmas stamps theme a couple of times, most recently in 2009, with the 1st large value of the set depicting Madonna and Child from a stained glass window in Ormesby, Norfolk.

Germany, too, has a firm tradition of using stained glass windows on their Christmas stamps. In the 1970s, they issued a number of miniature sheets, with the stained glass stamp in an ornamental frame.

1977 Christmas miniature sheet, depicting a king presenting gifts, from a stained glass window in Cologne.

In 1978 they went all modern with their miniature sheet. Presumably trying to highlight parts of a window pane, the complete design makes it look like the babe is floating on a flying carpet. Not the most successful of designs, I don't think.

Stained glass window from Munich

Luckily, they have since reverted to more traditional ways, such as this 1995 Christmas stamp with a Nativity scene from Augsburg Cathedral.

I was pleased to see that Canada once again issued stained glass Christmas stamps this year. Could this be the start of a long-running series? I surely do hope so! Last year's stamp, showing stained glass from the cathedral in Kingston, is among my favourites. I like it because of its traditional stained glass background. For me, the symmetrical ornamental backgrounds of stained glass windows offer even more visual pleasure than the main scenes depicted. But that's probably just my disorderly mind needing comforting!

So keep it up, Canada, and may many other countries see the stained glass light, for I think it one of the most beautifully fitting ways to mark Christmas on stamps. Have a good one!

See yous later

PS: Here's a little encore for you: The Madonna and Child Epiphany Window from Washington Cathedral.


  1. Very nice. Well worth the wait. Merry Christmas!

  2. Great post! Merry Christmas Adrian...

  3. Carmen Gauvin-O'DonnellDecember 23, 2012 10:39 am

    Thanks Adrian... and as for that mention of Kingston... did you know that the Cathedral is on the next block from my own workplace of Bethel Church? We hear her bells every day at noon! And you're right, those stamps ARE very nice!

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

  5. Ths U.S. issued a stained glass Christmas stamp in 1980, if you want to add it to your cyber collection
    The window is in The National Gallery which is just across Rock Creek Park from my apartment.

    1. Absolutely, Bruno. I actually bought that one but it didn't end up in my blog post. However, I'll now add it as a PS, for everyone to enjoy!

    2. Great. Also, I meant it is in The National Cathedral (not the National Gallery), and it is indeed the cathedral that is across the park from me :^) Too much egg nog.

    3. :-)
      Duly noted and updated.