US Stamps

By John M. Hotchner

The most Christmas seals we’ve ever seen on one cover

January 15, 2017 05:00 PM

  • Temporarily the record holder for most Christmas seals on a cover was this 1919 cover from the stock of Christmas seal dealer Denny Peoples. It has 22 examples of the 1919 seals.
  • The 1919 cover shown in the first illustration was overtaken by this 1935 cover sent by Christmas seal dealer Joe Ward. It has 26 1935 seals, and is the current record holder.
  • Four printers produced the 1935 Christmas seals. This example, photographically cropped from the cover in the previous illustration, has a tiny black line in the margin, a flaw found only on the seals printed by the Columbian Bank Note Co.

By John M. Hotchner

We have a new champion in the category of most Christmas seals on a single cover. In the U.S. Stamp Notes column in the Feb. 1, 2016, issue of Linn’s, the claimant was a 1919 cover with 12 tied 1919 Christmas seals.

In that column, I challenged Linn’s readers to better that record. The response was excellent.

George Miura found a 1942 cover on eBay with 18 seals.

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A cover I discovered in the stock of seal specialist dealer Denny Peoples has 22 1919 seals on the back.

I figured that 1919 cover would be hard to beat, but a new champion has been crowned, courtesy of another seal specialist dealer, Joe Ward. The new champion has 26 1935 seals.

That cover had been in the collection of Dick Green, an early collector of Christmas seals and founder of the Green’s Catalog of the Tuberculosis Seals of the World, first issued in 1930 and now a continuing publication of the Christmas Seal and Charity Stamp Society.

The 1935 Christmas seals on the cover are the version printed by the Columbian Bank Note Co., one of four companies employed to produce the tens of millions of seals needed for nationwide distribution.

The seal in the lower-right corner of the cover is key to this identification. It has a small horizontal black line in the margin, a flaw unique to the Columbian-printed seals.

If anyone can beat 26 Christmas seals on a single cover, I would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact me, John Hotchner, by email at, or by mail at Box 1125, Falls Church, VA 22041-0125.