Fifty years ago this month, the first American Christmas postage stamp was issued at a ceremony in the Golden Hilton Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There was “more demand for this stamp than any other issued,” Postmaster General J. Edward Day said during the dedication celebration. “Requests have come to the department for a great many years.”
The four-cent stamp—which was designed by Jim Crawford—was printed in festive shades of green and red and features hallmarks of the holiday season: a wreath and two candles.
Anticipating huge demand, postal officials ordered that 350 million of the new Christmas stamps be printed. It was the largest number of special stamps printed up to that time . . . and it wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy the American public! The initial supply of stamps sold out quickly, and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing had to work around the clock to print more. By the end of 1962, one billion Christmas stamps had been printed and distributed.
Since then, more than 90 billion holiday stamps have been printed, and they remain extremely popular today, representing nearly 10 percent of all stamp sales. But the true value of each year’s holiday stamps is much less quantifiable. The release of these stamps signals the beginning of the holiday season. Beyond their beauty, they help put everyone in the holiday spirit.
Join us on Facebook every day between now and Christmas as we recount all 50 years of Christmas stamps. Tell us which ones are your favorites, share them with your friends, and participate in conversations with fellow stamps fans from across the U.S. and around the world. And, of course, check back here for contests, insight, and much more about our wonderful 50-year history of holiday stamps.