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The traditional Christmas story is presented in two of the five stamps from this year's Christmas stamp issue. These religious stamps are based on the Adoration of the Magi, a wool and silk tapestry in the Art Gallery of South Australia.
The tapestry shows three richly garbed magi, or kings, offering their gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold to the Christ child. Matthew's gospel tells how the magi travelled afar from the east, and their origin is suggested by their turbans and embroidered clothing as well as by the dark skin colour of one of the kings. The Virgin and Child are seated on a mound of hay within the manger, while Joseph, pausing from his labour of wood chopping, witnesses the reverential scene. An attendant angel appears in the background, with the illuminating star held in his hands. All around there is a profusion of fl owers, including the lily, rose, iris, periwinkle,pansy and snowdrop, which are all acknowledged as symbols of the Virgin.
The Adelaide tapestry was woven between 1900 and 1902 at the Merton Abbey Mills in London, England, and was sixth of 10 versions. It was expressly commissioned by the Adelaide collector The Hon. (later Sir) George Brookman and was acquired by the gallery in 1917.
The other stamps in the issue are non-religious. The brightly coloured, celebratory subjects are suggestive of familiar Christmas carols "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas", "Jingle Bells" and "Ding Dong Merrily on High". The style is deliberately naïve, intended to recall a child's delight at Christmas time.
Technical details
Issue date: 1 November 2012
Issue withdrawal date: 31 May 2013
FDI withdrawal date: 29 November 2012
Denominations: 3 x 55c, 1 x 60c, 1 x $1.60
Stamp design: Jo Mure
Product design: Jo Mure
Printer: McKellar Renown
Paper - gummed: Tullis Russell
Paper - s/a: 100
Printing process: Lithography
Stamp size: 26mm x 37.5mm
Perforations: 14.6 x 13.86
Sheet layout: Module of 50
National postmark: Merrylands, NSW 2160



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