By Michael Baadke
The United States Postal Service will offer an image of Santa Claus on its next vended postage label for the Christmas holiday season.
Preliminary artwork seen by Linn’s Stamp News shows a closely cropped detail from one of the four Sparkling Holidays forever stamps issued Oct. 11 in a double-sided pane of 20.
Those stamp images are all derived from paintings by Haddon Sundblom that were created for Coca-Cola Co. advertising from the 1940s through the early 1960s.
The full original painting for this vended postage label image shows Santa outside the window of a home, gesturing with his thumb at the scene inside: a hanging wreath and a small table with a lamp, a note for Santa and a bottle of Coke.
The postage stamp image from the double-sided pane crops away the table and the items upon it.
The illustration on the nondenominated (50¢) computer-vended forever postage label moves in even closer on Santa’s smiling face and flowing white beard.
The postage labels are dispensed at self-service kiosks installed in many post offices across the country. According to a USPS blog entry published about a year ago, “self-service kiosks are available at more than 2,883 locations nationwide and most are open 24 hours, 7 days per week.”
Not all post offices have the self-service kiosk that dispenses vended postage, and the various offices that do tend to load the preprinted holiday postage labels at different times.
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The Postal Service began creating full color holiday-themed vended postage labels in 2012. They have been issued annually sometime between mid-October and early November.
Collectors interested in obtaining the new vended postage stamps can look online for a post office location that has the self-service kiosk installed.
Visit tools.usps.com and look for the Quick Tools link at upper left. Hover on the link and select Find USPS Locations from the choices that appear.
On the next screen, under Location Types, click the down arrow and select Self-Service Kiosks from the drop-down menu, enter a city and state (or ZIP code), select a distance radius for your search and click on the search button.
The postage labels vended by the kiosks are listed as computer-vended postage stamps in the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.