In 1959, the Festivals Committee of the National Council of Churches in New Zealand and the Rt. Rev. A K Warren, Bishop of Christchurch requested the Post Office produce a Christmas stamp.
There was some concern expressed at the time that as the stamps would be postmarked as they passed through the post some people might object to the 'defacement' of stamps that carried a picture with a spiritual significance. The suggestion to depict a reproduction of Rembrandt's painting of the Nativity, located in the National Gallery, London, was made by Miss J Fanning, Education officer at the National Art Gallery. Approval was given in late 1959 for the first Christmas stamp issue to be issued the following year. On two occasions reference was made to the stamps in Parliament as to "whether the proposal to issue a special Christmas stamp as another of many special issues by the Post Office will not tend to lower the prestige of New Zealand in the eyes of philatelists". Harrison & Sons Ltd and De La Rue & Co Ltd both produced proofs of the stamp, with the Harrison proof being approved for production.
This stamp issue first appeared in New Zealand Post Stamp Bulletin No. 22 on 17 October 1960.
Acknowledgments: Bulletin scanned and provided by John Biddlecombe of the New Zealand Society of Great Britain. Their web site offers further information useful to those interested in the stamps and postal history of New Zealand. Link: http://www.nzsgb.org.uk/
Product Listing for Christmas 1960
Click on image to enlarge.
Single 2d 'The Adoration of the Shepherds' gummed stamp.
New Zealand's first Christmas stamp depicted a painting of the Nativity by Rembrandt titled The Adoration of the Shepherds.
|Date of issue:||1 November 1960|
|Designers:||G Bull, Wellington and G R Smith|
|Printers:||Harrison and Sons, England|
|Stamp size:||30mm x 40mm|
|Sheet size:||60 stamps per sheet|
|Perforation gauge:||11.75 x 12|
|Paper type:||Guard Bridge, multiple NZ and star watermark|