The Postal Service issued a traditional and contemporary Christmas stamp in honor of the holiday season on October 10, 2001.
The 34-cent Virgin and Child stamp was issued in a self-adhesive, double-sided convertible booklet of twenty, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The stamp was designed by Richard Sheaff of Scottsdale, Arizona. Coinciding with the 125th anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2001, this issue in the featured a detail of Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Costa's oil-on-panel Virgin and Child, circa 1490. While Lorenzo Costa is well represented in major European galleries, this painting is a rare example of Costa's work in an American museum. The Banknote Corporation of America, Inc., produced 800 million stamps in the gravure process.
Four 34-cent Santas self-adhesive stamps were issued in Santa Claus, Indiana and designed by Richard Sheaff of Scottsdale, Arizona. The stamps feature four images (circa 1915 -1920) that represent part of the rich folklore of Santa Claus. Over the centuries, numerous cultures have contributed to the legend, and these images are part of that tradition. The story of Santa Claus begins with St. Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop in Asia Minor. St. Nicholas was considered a generous gift-giver and protector of children, and his reputation flourished throughout Europe. When the Dutch landed in the New World, they named St. Nicholas — Sinterklaas in Dutch — as their patron. In America, the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas merged with the English tradition of Father Christmas, creating the character that we know today as Santa Claus.
The stamps were produced in a self-adhesive pane of twenty (125 million stamps printed by Sennett Security Products); a self-adhesive convertible booklet of twenty (1.5 billion stamps printed by Sennett Security Products); self-adhesive vending booklet of twenty (210 million stamps printed by Avery Dennison); and a 21-cent postal stamped card. All the stamps were printed on the gravure press.
Postal Bulletin (September 20, 2001).