By Michael Baadke
For the second consecutive Christmas season, the United States Postal Service is drawing from an animated television special for the subject of its holiday forever stamps.
This year, Americans will see 10 different stamps commemorating A Charlie Brown Christmas, the popular family program that was first televised 50 years ago. The stamps are being issued in a double-sided pane of 20, with two stamps of each design.
Last year’s stamps featured four designs from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014 (Scott 4946-4949).
The new A Charlie Brown Christmas stamps will be issued Oct. 1 at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif.; the event is free and open to the public.
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Among those participating in the 9 a.m. ceremony are Jean Schulz, the widow of Peanuts comic strip creator Charles M. Schulz; their son Craig Schulz; Lee Mendelson, executive producer of A Charlie Brown Christmas; and Postmaster General Megan Brennan.
The 10 designs are described by the Postal Service as showing “Charlie Brown holding the sapling that eventually becomes his Christmas tree; Charlie Brown and Pigpen with a snowman; Snoopy and children ice skating; the cast of the program gathered around the Christmas tree; Linus kneeling by the sparsely decorated Christmas tree; Charlie Brown checking his mailbox for a Christmas card; Charlie Brown and Linus leaning on a snowy brick wall; Charlie Brown and Linus standing by the Christmas tree; a frustrated Charlie Brown standing in front of Snoopy’s doghouse; and, Charlie Brown decorating the tree in front of the prize-winning lights display on Snoopy’s doghouse.”
The characters on the stamps and featured in the television special are all from the Peanuts comic strip and books developed, written and drawn by Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000).
The Peanuts strip first appeared in seven newspapers on Oct. 2, 1950, so the new stamps also commemorate the 65th anniversary of the beloved feature.
The story line of the long-running comic strip follows the youngster Charlie Brown and his adventurous beagle Snoopy through their amusing day-to-day experiences. Peanuts is also populated with a large number of supporting characters, including know-it-all Lucy and her younger brother, the blanket-toting Linus; Schroeder, an accomplished pianist (on his toy piano) and catcher for the neighborhood baseball team; Peppermint Patty, a spirited soul who regularly calls Charlie Brown “Chuck”; Woodstock, a carefree yellow bird who associates most closely with Snoopy; Sally, Charlie Brown’s little sister; the aptly named Pig-Pen, who is perpetually soiled with dirt and dust; and many others.
A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first of more than 40 animated television specials featuring the Peanuts characters. It was first broadcast Dec. 9, 1965, on the CBS network. It now airs each year on ABC.
The 25-minute program begins with Charlie Brown discouraged by the commercialism of Christmas, and looking for a better way to celebrate the holiday. Though the other characters are initially immune to his concerns, they later work together to help restore his hope for a meaningful Christmas.
The new stamp set is the second from the United States to feature characters from the Peanuts family. The first was a single 34¢ stamp showing Snoopy on top of his doghouse, in his recurring fantasy role as a World War I flying ace in search of his nemesis, the Red Baron (Scott 3507). The Snoopy stamp was issued May 17, 2001.
The Peanuts gang has a worldwide following, and other nations that have issued stamps depicting Peanuts characters include Portugal in 2000 (Scott 2388-2393), Gibraltar in 2001 (890-894), Cayman Islands in 2002 (849-854), and Japan in 2010 (3206).
Along with the new double-sided panes of 20, the Postal Service will offer two varieties of press sheets, each for $78.40 and containing 160 stamps (eight panes). There will be 500 sheets made with die cuts, and 1,500 sheets without die cuts.
The stamps are offset-printed by Banknote Corporation of America for USPS contractor Sennett Security Products, and were designed by USPS art director Antonio Alcala using stills from the 1965 television program.
Pictorial black and full-color first-day cancels both show a smiling Charlie Brown with his tiny Christmas tree.
Technical details and first-day cancel ordering information for the A Charlie Brown Christmas stamps are listed below.
A Charlie Brown Christmas forever stamps
FIRST DAY— Oct. 1, 2015; city— Santa Rosa, Calif., and nationwide.
DESIGN: art director and designer— Antonio Alcala, Alexandria, Va.; modeler— Donald Woo; series— Holiday Celebrations.
PRINTING: process— offset, microprinting; printer and processor— Banknote Corporation of America/Sennett Security Products, Browns Summit, N.C.; press— Alprinta 74; inks— cyan, magenta, yellow, black; paper— phosphor tagged, block tagging; gum— self-adhesive; issue quantity— 500 million stamps; format— double-sided pane of 20, from 160-subject cylinders; size— 1.05 inches by 0.77 inches (image); 1.19 inches by 0.91 inches (overall); 5.74 inches by 2.38 inches (full pane); 11.49 inches by 9.5 inches (press sheet); plate numbers— “S” followed by four single digits; marginal markings— header “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Twenty First-class Forever stamps,” bar code, “©2015 USPS,” plate number; USPS item No.— 688645.
First-day cancel ordering information
Standard ordering instructions apply. Collectors requesting first-day cancels are encouraged to purchase their own stamps and affix them to envelopes. The first-day cover envelopes should be addressed for return (a removable label may be used), and mailed in a larger envelope addressed to A Charlie Brown Christmas Stamps, Special Events, Box 7838, San Francisco, CA 94120-7838. Requests for first-day cancels must be postmarked by Nov. 30.
The Postal Service’s uncacheted first-day cover set of 10 is item No. 680216 at $9.30. USPS order numbers for stamps and FDCs also appear in Linn’s 2015 U.S. Stamp Program.
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