The 1989 traditional and contemporary Christmas stamps were issued on October 19, 1989, in separate locations. in Washington, DC.
The traditional stamp, featuring the Madonna and Child, was adapted by veteran stamp designer Bradbury Thompson from Ludovico Carracci's painting, "The Dream of St. Catherine of Alexandria," which is housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Carracci, a native of Bologna, achieved renown for his poetic treatment of devotional scenes. The dedication ceremony took place in Washington, D.C. The stamps were produced by the offset/intaglio process (D Press) by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
The contemporary stamp, 25-cent Sleigh with Presents, was issued in Westport, Connecticut. The dedication ceremony was held at the Westport Arts Center. Steven Dohanos, a graduate of the Cleveland Museum Art School and veteran designer for the "Saturday Evening Post," designed the stamp. He designed twenty-five US stamps, including five depicting the US flag and, with the 1989 contemporary design, seven Christmas issues.
The production of the contemporary Christmas stamp was the first incidence of two different institutions printing a US stamp. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produced the contemporary booklet stamp, and the American Bank Note Company (ABNC) produced the sheet version. ABNC used an additional color (magenta) for the sheet that was not in the booklet. Consequently, the color tones in the sheet stamps differ from those in the booklet. Both stamps were produced by the photogravure process and were issued in sheets of 300, panes of fifty, and in booklets with twenty stamps.
For the first time, the contemporary and traditional Christmas stamps were issued in sheets and convenient booklets of twenty. This format made it easier for holiday mailers to purchase Christmas stamps through self-service vending equipment in postal lobbies, shopping malls, at commuter stops, and in other retail outlets.
Postal Bulletin (October 19, 1989).