US Stamps

First U.S. Christmas stamp issued in 1962

Dec 7, 2021, 10 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

After many years of petitions to the Post Office Department, the first United States Christmas stamp was issued on Nov. 1, 1962, almost 60 years ago. As shown in Figure 1, the 4¢ stamp depicts a wreath and candles (Scott 1205).

Despite the fact that the design was innocuous with no overtly religious symbolism, it ignited a brief firestorm of protest that included court filings to prevent the issuance of the stamp. They failed.

The issuance also proved that there was a pent-up demand for such stamps. More than a billion of the 1962 Christmas stamps were sold. As a result, the Post Office Department adopted the subject as a regular part of its stamp program from that day to this.

Figure 2 shows a commemorative cover from 2012 marking 50 years of U.S. Christmas stamps.

Collecting that first Christmas stamp in all its varieties and usages is a gift that keeps on giving. My latest find, a post office advertising wall poster on which someone placed one of the stamps and had it canceled first day of issue, is shown in Figure 3.

No doubt there are additional surprises to be found in dealers’ stocks. The search makes it fun to visit stamp shows to see what dealers have for sale. This year’s Christmas gift is that we can expect a return to near normal for in-person stamp shows in 2022.

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