Two 1981 Christmas stamps were issued on October 28, 1981, at different locations. Both stamps were printed without denominations, as was the case in 1975, because it was necessary to begin 1981 production during a period of postage rate uncertainty. The stamps were valued at twenty cents, the first-class postage rate effective November 1, and were intended for domestic use only.
The traditional stamp was designed by Bradbury Thompson of Riverside, Connecticut, and modeled by Peter Cocci. It was issued in Chicago and featured a Madonna and Child painted during the fifteenth century by Sandro Botticelli, one of the foremost painters of the Florentine Renaissance. The painting hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago, where the First Day of Issue ceremony took place.
The contemporary stamp featured a Teddy Bear seated on a sleigh. It was issued in Christmas Valley, Oregon, because the name of the city added a special seasonal identification to the First Day of Issue cancellation. The stamp was designed by Naiad Einsel of Westport, Connecticut, and modeled by Peter Cocci.
Both stamps were printed in the photogravure process; the traditional stamp was issued in panes of 100 and the nontraditional one in panes of fifty.
Postal Bulletin (October 8, 1981).