Stamps of Ap­proval

Reminisce - - Our Lives -

Amer­i­cans had been ask­ing for a ded­i­cated hol­i­day stamp for years be­fore the post of­fice fi­nally is­sued its first one, a 4-cent stamp, in Novem­ber 1962 (above).

Ex­pect­ing high de­mand for the 1962 Christ­mas is­sue, the post of­fice or­dered its largest ever spe­cial-stamp print run to date at the time—350 mil­lion. The stamps quickly sold out. By year’s end, the ser­vice had printed 1 bil­lion of the stamps.

The first re­li­gious Christ­mas stamp, an angel with a trum­pet, came out in 1965. It was based on a paint­ing of a weather vane atop a Methodist church in Mas­sachusetts.

The im­age on the first Madonna and Child stamp, in 1966, was taken from a 15th-cen­tury paint­ing at the Na­tional Gallery in Washington, D.C. Madonna and Child stamps based on ma­jor works have been is­sued al­most ev­ery year since. Old masters ren­dered on stamps in­clude

Jan van Eyck, Raphael, Bot­ti­celli and Bellini (top, from 1992).

The first Santa Claus stamp was is­sued in 1972.

The post of­fice pro­cessed about 2 bil­lion hol­i­day cards in 2012. Five years later the num­ber was down to un­der 1.3 bil­lion.

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