Sending Christmas greetings through the mail is now a tradition. Indeed, Sir Henry Cole invented the Christmas card only three years after Sir Rowland Hill organized the first modern post office. In Canada some of the finest cards were produced in 1931. Artist A. Y Jackson had convinced William E. Coutts, the Toronto greeting card magnate, to create a contemporary series of cards in typical Canadian style. Coutts commissioned 26 Canadian artists, including members of the Group of Seven, and paid them $25 for each design. The series was an artistic success, each illustration having been reproduced by the painstaking and expensive silkscreen process. Today collectors treasure these cards, three of which are reproduced on the 1980 Christmas stamps. The Christmas card design used on the 17-cent stamp is by Joseph Sydney Hallam who was born in Manchester, England, in 1898 and settled in Toronto in 1910. He attended the Ontario College of Art and later became a successful professional illustrator. In his spare time Hallam painted and went on sketching trips. His illustration shows a merry "Sleigh Ride", a common and much-enjoyed winter frolic before roads were swept bare for the convenience of the automobile. The layout design and typography for this stamp issue were done by Yvon Laroche of Montreal.
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