December means holidays. Holidays mean greeting cards. And the Postal Service has, once again, created several festive postage stamps to help speed your holiday greetings on their way.
On the whimsical side are Winter Holidays, stamps featuring a reindeer, snowman, gingerbread man, and toy soldier. Bright colors outline the figures along with borders of evergreens, stars, wreaths, and holly — adding a cheerful touch to the First-Class stamps.
A new Hanukkah
stamp has been added to the holiday lineup. The new design
features a photograph of a menorah with nine lit candles.
The menorah was designed by Lisa Regan of the Garden Deva Sculpture Company in Tulsa, OK, and photographed by Ira Wexler of Braddock Heights, MD. Carl T. Herrman of North Las Vegas, NV, was the art director.
The 2009 Hanukkah stamp is the third U.S. issuance to commemorate the holiday. The Postal Service issued its first Hanukkah stamp in 1996. A design featuring an ornate dreidel followed in 2004.
A new Kwanzaa stamp also was added this year.
Kwanzaa, a non-religious holiday that takes place over seven days from December 26 to January 1, draws on African traditions and takes its name from the phrase for "first fruits" in Swahili, a widely spoken African language.
Stamp artist Lloyd McNeill of New York City, under the direction of Carl T. Herrman, created the festive, brightly colored design.
This is the third stamp design issued in celebration of Kwanzaa. The first Kwanzaa commemorative stamp was issued in 1997.
This year’s Christmas: Madonna and Sleeping Child by Sassoferrato stamp is from an original painting — more than 300 years old.
The painting was purchased in 1926 by American media entrepreneur William Randolph Hearth, an avid collector and patron of the arts.
Hearst amassed a renowned collection of artwork and artifacts which is displayed at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA, where Hearst lived during his lifetime. Today it is open to the public as part of the California State Park System.
Since 1978, the theme of each traditional Christmas stamp has been the Madonna and Child. The 2009 featured artwork is by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi (1609-1685), more commonly known as Sassoferrato. The issuance of the stamp coincides with the 400th anniversary of the birth of the artist.
Like them? You can use them next year too
Although I’m sure the Postal Service will issue new holiday stamps next year, if you really like this year’s offering, you can use them without any added postage — First-Class Mail will remain 44 cents in 2010.
So, what exactly do you get for your 44 cents?
In addition to getting your letter or card across town or to another state, if someone has moved in the last year, your greeting will be forwarded to them. After one year when the forwarding expires, you’ll be notified of the new address for an additional six months. In fact, more than 2 billion pieces of mail are forwarded every year.
In addition to all 50 states, you pay First-Class domestic mail rate if you’re sending correspondence to any military base around the world, or any American territory including Guam, Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands. The Postal Service provides universal service — no matter where you live.
USPS also has its own arm of the law — the Postal Inspection Service — helping to protect your privacy and prevent mail fraud.
And did you know a postmark can provide documentation that a legal brief was filed by the deadline and that by sending yourself a manuscript through the mail, and not opening it when you receive it; the postmark shows the legal copyright date?
Letters are picked up from your mailbox free-of-charge. There are no hidden surcharges — no matter where you live. And rural carriers can provide stamps and other products and services for customers who live off the beaten path.
Tax dollars don’t support the Postal Service. It is operated solely from the sale of its products and services.
Want to compare what you get for 44 cents and what you’d have to pay in another — often much smaller — industrialized country?
First-Class letter mail equivalent prices in U.S. dollars – 1 ounce or 20 grams:
- Norway – $1.25
- Finland – $1.12
- Denmark – $1.03
- Canada – 98 cents
- Switzerland – 92 cents
- Italy – 84 cents
- Belgium – 83 cents
- Japan – 83 cents
- Greece – 83 cents
- France – 80 cents
- Austria – 78 cents
- Germany – 77 cents
- Ireland – 77 cents
- Sweden – 77 cents
- Israel – 77 cents
- Luxembourg – 75 cents
- Portugal – 70 cents
- Great Britain – 66 cents
- New Zealand – 64 cents
- Netherlands – 63 cents
- Iceland – 62 cents
- Spain – 55 cents
- Australia – 54 cents
- United States – 44 cents
So, send a letter, a card or a photo — it’s that time of year again and First-Class Mail is a bargain!
Ho, ho, ho!!