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1976 Christmas Issue

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13-cent Copley "Nativity" single

On October 27, 1976, the Postal Service issued two 13-cent stamps for use during the holiday season—a traditional nativity scene (Scott 1701) based on a John Singleton Copley painting and a Nathaniel Currier winter scene (Scott 1702).

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13-cent Copley "Nativity" single

On October 27, 1976, the Postal Service issued a 13-cent multicolored Christmas stamp featuring a rendition of John Singleton Copley’s Nativity. Bradbury Thompson designed the stamp.

The multicolored stamp (Scott 1701) was printed on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing seven-color Andreotti gravure press (601) as sheets of two hundred subjects, tagged, perforated 11, and distributed as panes of fifty (ten across, five down). Mr. Zip, “MAIL EARLY IN THE DAY,” electric eye markings, and six plate numbers, one in each color used to print the sheet, are printed in the selvage.

American John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) painted the Nativity in about 1776. The oil painting on canvas is 24½ x 30 inches and is now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,

Copley is considered the foremost artist of colonial America and one of its most prolific. Born on July 3, 1738, in Boston, Copley was trained by his stepfather, an engraver. In 1774 he immigrated to Europe, touring Italy and then settling in London in 1775. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy the following year and a full member in 1779. Copley died on September 9, 1815, in London.

Reference:

  • Scott 2005 Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers
  • mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?recview=true&id=34161 (accessed May 16, 2006)
  • cgfa.sunsite.dk/copley/copley_bio.htm (accessed May 16, 2006)

Doug D'Avino

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13-cent Currier "Winter Pastime" single

On October 27, 1976, the Postal Service issued a 13-cent multicolored Christmas stamp depicting Nathaniel Currier’s 1855 hand-colored lithograph 'Winter Pastime'. The stamp was designed by Stevan Dohanos based on the lithograph held by the Museum of the City of New York.

The multicolored stamps were issued with two types of tagging. The stamp (Scott 1702) was printed on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing seven-color Andreotti gravure press (601) as sheets of two hundred subjects with overall tagged, perforated 11, and distributed as panes of fifty (five across, ten down). The lettering at the base is black and usually .5 mm below the design, and there is generally no 'snowflaking' in the sky and pond.

The second version (Scott 1703) was printed on the Bureau of Engraving and Printing seven-color Andreotti gravure press (601) as sheets of 230 subjects, block tagged, perforated 11, and distributed as panes of fifty (five across, ten down). The lettering at the base is gray black and usually .75 mm below the design, and there is generally 'snowflaking' in the sky and pond. Mr. Zip, “MAIL EARLY IN THE DAY,” electric eye markings, and five plate numbers, one in each color used to print the sheet, are printed in the selvage.

'Currier & Ives' was the name used by a New York printmaking firm from 1857 until 1907. This business had been in operation since 1834, first as Stodart & Currier (1834) and then as N. Currier (1835 to 1856). All the prints produced by this firm are usually referred to as "Currier & Ives prints." Nathaniel Currier was a printmaker and businessman. James Ives started as the firm's bookkeeper in 1852 and five years later became Currier's partner. Neither was an artist, so though all Currier & Ives prints were published by the partners, they were drawn and lithographed by other persons. Nathaniel Currier retired in 1880 and died in 1888, and James Ives died in 1895.

The firm produced a variety of images, including pictures of newsworthy events and prints depicting every subject relating to American life—sports, games, home life, religion, children, hunting, fishing, entertainment, trains, ships, views of cities, etc. Most Currier & Ives prints are hand-colored lithographs intended for a mass market, so they were sold inexpensively. Smaller prints sold for about twenty cents each and the larger ones for $1-$3. The smaller and less expensive prints were usually colored by a group of young women, each applying a different color, and images with large runs were often colored using stencils. The larger and more expensive prints generally were colored individually by skilled colorists.

'Winter Pastime', by artist Fanny Palmer, shows a winter scene with children at play on the ice, some with makeshift hockey sticks. In the background other children hurry their sleds along snow-covered hills. 'Winter Pastime' was the second Currier & Ives winter scene used as the basis for a Christmas stamp. 'The Road - Winter' had been used in 1974.

References:

  • Scott 2005 Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers.
  • oldprintshop.com/cgi-bin/gallery.pl?category_id=50,204&start_at=20&action=browse (accessed May 22, 2006)
  • American Historical Print Collectors Society, ahpcs.org/Library/curhist.htm (accessed May 22, 2006)

Doug D'Avino

Reference: Scott 2005 Specialized Catalogue of U.S. Stamps and Covers

Doug D'Avino

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