North Pole Postmark Available Through December 10

The U.S. Postal Service receives hundreds of thousands of requests each year from around the world for North Pole postmarks, a service that we provide at no cost. This year is no different. To receive the North Pole postmark on your 2012 holiday cards, you should:

  • Purchase stamps at any Post Office.
  • Affix the stamps of your choice to the envelopes.
  • Address the sealed envelopes, with the cards enclosed, to those on your mailing list.
  • Mail the cards in a larger envelope, box, Priority Mail, or Express Mail package to:

This tree ornament is inspired by the Santa and Sleigh stamps issued earlier this month. Click the image for more info.

ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998

Requests must be received in Anchorage by Dec. 10 in order to ensure delivery by Christmas. Each card or letter must by addressed and bear the correct amount of postage.

Many communities around the country have local programs set up to respond to letters to Santa Claus. In North Pole, Alaska, requests may be sent to: 1 Santa Claus Lane, North Pole, AK 99705-9901. For a program near you, check with your local Post Office or call 800-ASK-USPS.

Holy Family & Santa and Sleigh: Some of Our Favorite Links

Are you ready for the holidays? Well, we are, and we kicked off the start of the holiday season last week with the release of the Holy Family and Santa and Sleigh stamps. In case you missed the fun, here’s a brief roundup of some of our favorite Christmas stamps news stories of the week.

  • The Holy Family stamp departs from the usual Madonna and Child image that appears on U.S. postage stamps. “Forty-eight out of 50 years were the same type of image,” says Louis Guiliano from the USPS Board of Governors. “We wanted to express a different part of the Christmas story.” Read more from Guiliano and about the Holy Family stamp here.
  • Even Santa himself made it to the dedication of the Santa and Sleigh stamps! For more pictures from the celebration, visit the USPS Media Center.

Also this week we send a special shout-out to Hints from Heloise, which featured Stamp Camp USA, an organization that introduces kids to the fun hobby of stamp collecting. Follow the link to learn how you can help.

Voting by absentee ballot this year? Make sure you have the right amount of postage!

December 17, the busiest mail day for USPS, will be here sooner that we realize. Have you gotten your stamps yet?

Vintage Children’s Books Helped Inspire Santa and Sleigh Stamps

The first thing artist Paul Rogers did after being asked to design a holiday stamp showing a “traditional” image of Santa Claus was search the Internet. He was looking for storybook images that would spark his childhood memories and give him a starting point for the project.

Several children’s storybooks gave him a feeling for possible ways to approach the subject:

“Donald Duck and Santa Claus,” illustrated by Al Dempster (1952)

“The Golden Book of Little Verses,” illustrated by Mary Blair (1953)

“The Night Before Christmas,” illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren (1951)

“Wonder Book of Christmas,” illustrated by Lou Myers (1951)

“I was worried about how to do it and not be corny,” Rogers said. “I grew up in California, so I’ve never seen a snowy village.”

First, Rogers did a rough sketch of Santa to suggest a basic look.

He then sent sketches for the block of four stamps to art director Howard Paine. They considered presenting Santa’s face as a sort of puzzle.

But in the end they decided on a different strategy. Rogers presented sketches with one stamp more “finished” to give a better sense of what he had in mind.

An early version of the solution they agreed on appears above. The final stamps are slightly different: The reindeer’s legs in the top right square, for example, joined its whole body in the top left in the finished version. Changes were made to the houses as well.

“Howard Paine is such a great art director,” Rogers said. “He always gave really great advice.”

This set includes a booklet of 20 stamps and four envelopes, each with an affixed stamp and a First Day of Issue color postmark (click for more info).

The special challenge posed by this assignment, Rogers said, was to create a composition that would work as four stamps together as well as individually. His original sketches were drawn in pencil on paper, but the final images were computer-generated—making the stamp art simultaneously traditional and new.

The Santa and Sleigh Forever® stamps are now available online and in Post Offices nationwide as double-sided booklets of 20 self-adhesive stamps each. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.  At the time of issuance, the Santa and Sleigh stamps are being sold at a price of 45 cents each, or $9.00 per booklet.

Favorite Links of the Week: More buzz for Earthscapes, new Christmas Stamps debut

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for our roundup of stamp stories this week.

Berkeley, California, photographer Barry Rokeach’s stunning work, which was featured on one of the Earthscapes stamps, is detailed by Berkeleyside.

Westport News reports on Westport (Connecticut) Historical Society‘s recently opened exhibit showcasing U.S. postage stamps designed by local artists.

Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Sarah Hughes will help dedicate the Santa and Sleigh (Forever®) stamps tomorrow in New York City.

What were some of your favorite philatelic stories this week?