1962 Christmas Stamp - 4 Cent Wreath1962 was the very first year the US Postal Service issued a special Christmas stamp. They began with a starting run of 350 million stamps. They thought this was a *huge* number of special-purpose stamps to print up. Those sold out almost instantly. The USPS realized they had a hit on their hands and by the end of the 1962 holiday season they had printed over a billion stamps for the inaugural year's run!
This stamp artwork was custom designed by the head of the USPS Art Department, Jim Crawford, just for this purpose. He chose to go with what you might call "non-religious" Christmas imagery - that is, no images of Mary or Jesus or Bethlehem or other Biblical references. Instead, he drew candles, which were common in all households in the winter, and a wreath of evergreen, which again was a traditional winter decoration for homes. The red and green colors did speak of Christmas. The red label beneath reads "Christmas 1962" and in the top left in a green area are the letters "4c U.S."
There was controversy at the time of the launch because many felt the US government should not actively be promoting one religion over the others - i.e. why make a stamp to celebrate Christmas, when there were no stamps to celebrate any other religious holiday. This may be part of why Mr. Crawford went with generic images that everyone could enjoy in the winter.
The image is called the "Christmas Wreath and Candles" by the USPS.
This is the Scott Catalogue #1205 Stamp. The stamp was issued on Nov. 1, 1962.
This stamp is extremely common, and a mint copy is worth 4 cents.
Here is my image of this beautiful Christmas stamp! This one was *not* collected by Walter - it came out before he began collecting stamps. I acquired this stamp separately, to round out this online gallery.
Because I have many copies of many of my stamps, feel free to contact me if you have an interest or swapping or buying one of these. I am quite happy to share my love of stamping with others!
Christmas Stamp Photos
Stamp Collecting and Stamp Photos