US Stamps

U.S. 2018 Christmas souvenir sheets hard to find on cover

Feb 1, 2024, 7 AM

U.S. Stamp Notes by John M. Hotchner

If you set out to find either of the covers in Figure 1, you might search for a long time before you find an example. What the two covers have in common is the forever stamp that is part of the 2018 United States Christmas souvenir sheet (Scott 5336) issued on Oct. 11 of that year, shown here in Figure 2.

A million souvenir sheets were ordered from the printer, though I don’t know if all were sold.

The U.S. Postal Service called this issue of four stamps plus the souvenir sheet (Scott 5331-5336) Sparkling Holidays. I call the souvenir sheet the Coca-Cola Santa.

The illustrations on the four stamps and the souvenir sheet were derived from archived artwork produced by Haddon Sundblom for the Coca-Cola Co. from the 1940s through the early 1960s. Only the souvenir sheet shows the product: a glass bottle of Coke on the mantle of the fireplace, outside the boundaries of the semijumbo stamp.

The four stamps were sold in booklet format at post offices, but the souvenir sheet was not. The sheet had to be ordered on the internet, meaning that only collectors were likely to go to the trouble of requesting one. Thus, most of them would have been retained for collections or put away against future price increases.

In fact, so many were saved that the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers value for the mint souvenir sheet is only $1.30, against a 50¢ face value at the time it was issued. With all those souvenir sheets out there, few were used as postage.

Finding contemporaneous uses, which I would define as within a year of issue, is difficult.

Shown in Figure 1 is a 2019 Priority Mail example bearing the entire souvenir sheet, and a 2021 cover with the stamp from the sheet. The later cover is illustrated so that readers can see the sheet’s semijumbo stamp.

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