Issue Date: February 1, 1995
City: Valentines, Virginia
Printing Method: Lithographed and Engraved
Perforations: Die Cut
The non-denominated Love stamps were printed before the 1995 rate change took effect and released in time for Valentine’s Day. They were later issued with the 32¢ and 55¢ denominations inscribed on the stamps (U.S. #2957-60). In addition to gracing Valentines and wedding invitations, the stamps soon made news of their own.
Terry McCaffey, manager of Stamp Development at the time, had been inspired by a postcard picturing two child angels from Raphael’s masterpiece, Sistine Madonna. McCaffey thought they would be perfect for Love stamps.
C. Douglas Lewis, a curator at the National Gallery of Art and vice chairman of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee warned that child angels, also known as putti, were associated with death, not love. Some art historians believe Raphael’s painting had been intended for the funeral of Pope Julius II, and that the child angels are resting on top of his coffin.
The stamps were issued regardless, and media coverage helped stir the controversy. One mother reportedly called to complain that the she had used the Love stamps on her daughter’s wedding invitations and that the event had been jinxed by the “death angel stamps.”
In spite of the controversy, the 1995 Love stamps were so popular that they weren’t replaced until 1997.