US Stamps

Many older Christmas stamps remain available at post offices

Nov 25, 2019, 8 AM
One of the 2018 Sparkling Holidays Christmas forever stamps.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

Recently, I have been asked the same question repeatedly when I visit a post office where the clerks know me: Why isn’t there a new Christmas stamp issue for this year? It was on the clerks’ minds because their customers were asking the same question.

The clerks were aware of the new Winter Berries and Holiday Wreaths forever stamps. But when they compared these stamps with older Christmas issues they still have in stock — the 2016 and 2018 Madonna and Child, 2017 Christmas Carols and 2018 Sparkling Holidays stamps — they didn’t consider the new designs as Christmassy as the previous ones.

There is no new Madonna and Child stamp this year because the United States Postal Service has been issuing those traditional Christmas stamps in alternating years since 2002, with a few exceptions for rate change years. This means we can anticipate a new Madonna and Child stamp in 2020.

A contemporary (nonreligious) issue continues to be a staple every year. For this year it is Holiday Wreaths. Last year it was the Sparkling Holidays set with Santa portraits previously used in early Coca-Cola ads.

Since 2016 there also has been a set issued with a winter theme, not specifically for a holiday: Songbirds in Snow in 2016, Snowy Day in 2017, Birds in Winter in 2018, and Winter Berries this year.

Also, in some years there have been additional stamps showing biblical scenes with the word “Christmas” on them. This year there is no such issue.

Post offices still have plenty of Christmas forever stamps in stock for customers to choose from. With the Postal Service’s financial situation in mind, it makes sense from a business standpoint to continue to offer these older issues.

Lastly, the 2018 Sparkling Holidays stamps might not have gone over as well as expected. The print run was 1 billion stamps, while the print run for this year’s Holiday Wreaths is 350 million.

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