An epiphany that led to The Epiphany
One day in 2004 while browsing in a spice shop in the Middle East, Rich Terlep unexpectedly came face to face with the gifts of the Magi. He discovered that what looked like a small white mound of pebbles was frankincense, and another mound of small red clusters was myrrh. "This is amazing," he thought. "I've known about these all my life and never seen them. These are the real things – a part of the Christmas story!" This personal epiphany set him on the path to sharing this experience and the original gifts of the Three Kings with others, and to the creation of Three Kings Gifts.
Although there is no definitive history of the Magi and only a brief mention of them in the Bible, Rich did deeper research and discovered accounts of the kings going back more than 1500 years. Balthazar was thought to be from Saba which is present-day Oman, Yemen and part of North Africa and that he brought, by one account, the finest "hojary." By the use of this word for frankincense Rich was able to identify that it must have come from a high desert area in Oman called the Dofar region, and found a source for this.
Caspar was said to have brought the finest Arabian myrrh. So Rich searched for and found a source for real Arabian myrrh. To make the gifts complete, he decided to offer real 23-karat gold encased in a glass globe.
Packaging these original Gifts in picturesque small wooden chests, Rich created a set that has become beloved throughout America, and popular beyond his greatest hopes. But the story doesn't stop there...
With the success of the "Original Gifts of Christmas" Rich was inspired to expand this offering by presenting the full Christmas story. And thus was born "The Real Nativity Set" – a complete set of hand painted figures including the Holy Family, the Three Kings each holding his original gift in a chest, and shepherds, animals, and a stable. Working with handpicked set of artists, he designed a set of figures whose intricate and expressive faces bring a fresh immediacy and poignancy to the Christmas story – a unique and wonderful Nativity set that has become a beloved heirloom in many families.