The U.S. Postal Service has released a series of commemorative holiday stamps featuring Santa Claus images painted by artist Haddon Sundblom for Coca-Cola Christmas ads from the 1940s through the early 1960s.

The Sparkling Holidays Commemorative Forever stamps, sold in booklets of 20 for the holiday card-sending season, feature four timeless portraits of the rosy-cheeked, smiling, grandfatherly man in his red suit that embody the modern-day image of Santa. The collaboration – Coke’s first ever with the Postal Service – took shape over the last three years.

“We selected images that show the progression of the ‘Coca-Cola Santa’ through the years,” said Justine Fletcher, director of Heritage Communications at The Coca-Cola Company.

Santa stamps

“These stamps are a great way for people to see the historical lineage of Haddon Sundblom’s rendering of Santa.”

The “Coca-Cola Santa” first appeared in 1931 in the Saturday Evening Post. The instantly popular ad campaign would appear season after season, each year reinforcing Santa’s consistent overall look, while reflecting the times. Coca-Cola commissioned Sundblom to paint more than 40 original oil paintings featuring Santa Claus.

Sundblom’s charming artworks of Santa Claus struck a chord with the public. Before long, the “Coca-Cola Santa” became the standard version of Saint Nicholas recognized from virtually every corner of the world.

Santa stamps

“Coca-Cola didn’t invent Santa Claus, but we did – with Sundblom – help shape how people around the world see him,” Fletcher added. “Coca-Cola and Santa each continue to be associated with the holiday season, representing unwavering symbols of happiness and hope passed down from generation to generation.”

The U.S. Postal Service hosted a dedication ceremony for the stamps earlier this month at The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

In addition to the stamp booklet, a souvenir sheet includes a stamp and depicts a wider scene of one of Sundblom’s paintings chosen for the Sparkling Holidays stamp booklet. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps and the souvenir sheet with existing art by Sundblom.

The Sparkling Holidays stamps are issued as Forever stamps, which are equal in value to First-Class stamps. They can be purchased online at usps.com/shop, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), by mail through USA Philatelic catalog, or at the more than 7,000 U.S. Post Office locations across the country. Coca-Cola padded holiday envelopes and other seasonal packaging goodies also are on sale at post offices nationwide.