Coca Cola Collectors have strong affinity to the wonderful, warm images of Santa Claus as portrayed in the Coca Cola advertisements of bygone days. The American, Michigan-born artist who created these images was Haddon Sundblom. Sundblom, the son of Scandinavian immigrants, deviated from the various historic and more serious visages of European Santas. He designed a rosy-cheeked, grandfatherly Santa for Coca Cola’s use from 1931 through 1966, often using himself or friends as a human model.
His inspiration for a well-rounded, friendly and jovial Santa came from the 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” by Clement Clark Moore aka “ ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.” Coca Cola ran its first ads featuring Sundblom’s Santa in the Saturday Evening Post and subsequently expanded to other popular family-oriented mid-century magazines.
On October 11th, USPS will release a set of four “Sparkling Holidays” Forever stamps and a souvenir sheet featuring Sundblom Santa paintings from Coca Cola ads. Each stamp will depict a close-up of Santa’s face taken from a larger body of artwork.
The souvenir sheet will include a semi-jumbo stamp showing a broader scene of Santa standing before a fireplace, reading a note signed by Jimmy that asks “Please Pause Here.” Santa is holding a book containing a list of good boys and girls whereas the child’s note is held in place by a tall bottle of Coke versus a plate of cookies. (Trivia note: Coca Cola often referred to its product as “The Pause That Refreshes.”) USPS Art Director Greg Breeding surrounded the scene with a metallic gold background.
USPS spokesperson Cathy Purcell noted that the images of a nostalgic, wholesome Santa truly represented Americana and were universally recognizable as a modern holiday image. Ms. Purcell also commented that USPS carefully chooses the physical US location for its dedication ceremony and first day of issue. The US Postmaster General will hold the “Sparkling Holidays” ceremonies at The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This location is open and decorated for Christmas the year-round.
Stamps are available for pre-order through the Postal Store at usps.com. The Souvenir Sheet will only be sold through usps.com or by calling 1-800-STAMP24. This grouping is sure to become a cross-collectible among Coca Cola, holiday and stamp collectors but also has broad public appeal. Readers are encouraged to place orders early for this special 2018 holiday season commemorative.