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Five festive stamps released on 250th anniversary of the first prayer book published in Manx Gaelic

To view the stamp collection and pre-order please click here

On the 250th anniversary of the first prayer book to be published in Manx Gaelic the Isle of Man Post Office is pleased to present a set of five Manx Christmas Prayer Book stamps. The stamps which are due for release on October 23rd have been specially commissioned by local artist Julia Ashby-Smyth.

Each of the five stamps feature a Manx word and a religious emblem closely associated with the spiritual aspects of Christmas and winter festival. The words and images themselves draw upon an extensive history of the Manx Prayer Book.

The concept of a Manx Gaelic Prayer Book, Book of Common Prayer was first translated by John Phillips, Bishop of Sodor and Man in 1610, when he interpreted the 1604 edition of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The Manx edition to be published however used the 1662 English version of the Anglican Book of Prayer and was published under the auspices of the Society of Propagation of Christian Knowledge 250 years ago in 1765. Both translations were then brought together in 1893 with a two volume edition by Professor John Rhys and published by the Manx Society.

The Prayer Book is a Church of England document, of significance not just for worship but also because it is at the heart of the religious establishment (the C of E being 'The Established Church') by virtue of the Acts of Uniformity which require use of the Prayer Book.

The artist, Julia Ashby-Smyth who draws upon this rich history to produce a striking set of stamps using the Manx Prayer Book itself and particularly the Prayers/Collects from Advent to Epiphany, has selected a series of recurrent and important words and matched these with graphic inspiration drawn from illuminated manuscripts and ecclesiastical texts and a 'Book of Hours' of the same period (late 18th Century). The result is a reproduction of the colours and design elements used 250 years ago to create an authentic feel for the collection. Julia captures a certain Manxness throughout the collection by linking traditional Manx Gaelic terminology which is perhaps familiar with well-known Manx graphic motifs including for example: the word 'Shee' meaning 'Peace' accompanied by an image of a white dove of peace, while 'Graith' meaning 'Love' is represented by an angel. 'Grayse' meaning 'Grace' is represented in motherhood with Mary and Jesus. 'Credjue' meaning 'Faith' is shown with a cross, and finally, 'Strength', 'Niart' in Manx is depicted as a Wiseman.

Julia Smyth-Ashby is a locally based freelance designer with experience across all manner of media from calligraphy and Celtic to caricatures for a wide range of clients.

Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps & Coins said: "It's been a pleasure working with Julia on this project and to have produced such a fantastic and authentic set of Christmas stamps celebrating this important cultural anniversary. We are sure you will love seeing our festive stamps decorating your parcels, letters and packets this Christmas."

The Christmas Prayer Book collectables utilise easy to use self-adhesive stamps printed with metallic gold ink and have been produced to a small size, to affix to any Christmas card. The collection includes sets and sheets, a presentation pack, first day cover and a stamp booklet including additional envelope 'seals' – decorative stickers to add to Christmas cards or presents – featuring the seasonal religious Manx words from the set. The pack contains for the first time a £3.20 stamp for the Post Office parcels rate.

To view the stamp collection and pre-order please click here. The stamps will be available across the Post Office network and for purchase online at from 23rd October.

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