Melita is the personification of Malta or the Maltese people. The name originated from the Roman town of Melite (Μελίτη, Melite in Ancient Greek), which was the ancient capital of Malta which eventually developed into Mdina or Città Notabile.
Melita has been portrayed a number of times on Maltese postage or revenue stamps. She appeared on 4 February 1899 on a 2/6 stamp designed by an unknown Malta Post Office official. She is shown wearing a helmet and a garment, while holding a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. The flags of Malta and of the Order of Saint John appeared behind her. This stamp was in use for many years until the 1920s. Special printings of this stamp were overprinted for revenue use from 1902 to 1908.
A different version of Melita was used for the 1922 definitive set designed by Edward Caruana Dingli. The design shows Melita wearing a garment over a breastplate showing the Maltese Cross, as well as a helmet and sandals. She is holding a rudder representing the Maltese in control of Malta's destiny. This was done because Malta had just achieved self-government a year before, and the stamps were commemorating this event. This design was featured as a stamp-on-stamp in 2011, and it is considered as one of Malta's most beautiful stamps.
The shilling values in this set used a different design by Gianni Vella. The Vella design showed two symbolic figures, a man representing Britain, holding a shield with the Union Jack and with his left hand resting on Melita, who is holding an olive branch. The design symbolized the protection and good relations between the two countries.
Edward Caruana Dingli's Melita design was reused for the fifth series Maltese banknotes issued by the Central Bank of Malta. This series was issued between 1989 and 2000 and remained in use until 2008 when Malta adopted the Euro. The watermark on these and previous banknotes also shows the head of the allegorical figure Melita.
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