It is hard to believe that the United States Postal Service has never issued an official Halloween stamp series, but that is about to change this year with the release of a collection of four new stamps each featuring a differently carved grinning jack o lantern.
As reported at Linn’s Stamp News, the stamps will be issued in a double-sided pane of 20, which the Postal Service calls a booklet. as well as press sheets consisting of six panes with die cuts (120 stamps), selling through its Stamp Fulfillment Services division for face value at $56.40.
“These creatively carved pumpkins have been symbols of Halloween in the United States since the late 19th century, not long after celebrations of the holiday began here,” the Postal Service explained in its stamp announcement. “These stamps are the first Halloween-themed stamps to be issued by the U.S. Postal Service.”
The four different jack-o-lanterns featured on the stamps were carved by Paul Montanari and photographed by Sally Andersen-Bruce, as designed by art director Derry Noyes.
The first-day ceremony for the new Jack-O’-Lantern forever stamps will take place on Thursday, September 29 in Anoka, Minnesota.
According to the Minnesota News Network, “The central Minnesota city bills itself as Halloween Capital of the World.” Even the Library of Congress acknowledges the title, proclaiming that Anoka is “one of the first cities in the United States to put on a Halloween celebration that discourages people from playing tricks or causing trouble.”
Though there have not been any other U.S. stamps directly celebrating Halloween, Washington Irving’s classic story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has always been closely tied to the holiday, and a 10¢ stamp commemorating the tale was issued just three weeks before Halloween on October 10, 1974. In its Philatelic Release No. 35 announcing the 10¢ Legend of Sleepy Hollow stamp, the Postal Service noted, “Nationwide distribution will be made in time for the stamps to be used with Halloween cards. Letter carriers deliver large numbers of Halloween cards each year.”
In its Halloween 2016 stamp announcement, the Postal Service offers this explanation about the origin of the jack-o-lantern: “Folklorists trace their name to a tale about a scoundrel named Jack who meets up with the Devil. Perhaps best known as an Irish legend, the story exists in myriad versions in Europe and North America: Jack tricks the Devil in unscrupulous ways that prevent him from going to Heaven but which also infuriates the Devil, who refuses to carry Jack’s soul to hell. With nowhere to go after he dies, Jack forever wanders the Earth with a lantern made from a hollowed-out turnip lit by an ember from the fires of hell, a fate that earns him the name Jack of the Lantern.”
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