US Stamps

John M. Hotchner

What exactly are Christmas seals?

November 10, 2017 02:35 PM

  • This clever flyer in the shape of a United States public mailbox opens up as shown nearby to present the case for contributing to the 1935 Christmas seal campaign.
  • When opened up, the mailbox-shaped flyer proves the worth of Christmas seals by highlighting the declining death rate from tuberculosis.

U.S. Stamp Notes — By John M. Hotchner

Christmas seals, issued in the United States since 1907, are not postage stamps, yet they mimic them in how they are created, printed and used on envelopes that go through the mail.

They also have an added dimension: the materials designed and distributed to encourage those who use Christmas seals to contribute to the fight against tuberculosis and other lung diseases.

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An example is the 1935 flyer shaped like a U.S. public mailbox. The text on the inside makes a compelling case for using Christmas seals — especially the 1935 seal, which along with the 1934 seal are the years I collect in depth.

Also included on the inside of the flyer are statistics that show the decline in deaths from tuberculous from 1904, before Christmas seals were introduced, to 1934. In 1904, there were 195 tuberculous deaths per 100,000 population in the United States. In 1934, the rate was 56 per 100,000.

The text notes that “By keeping up the fight against tuberculosis made possible by Christmas Seals we may, within the next few years, eliminate this disease as a leading cause of death.”