2018 50¢ Sparkling Holidays Se-tenant
Value: 50¢ 1-ounce First-Class Rate (Forever)
Issue Date: October 11, 2018
First Day City: Pigeon Forge, TN
Type of Stamp: Definitive
Printed by: Ashton Potter
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Double-sided Booklet of 20
Quantity Printed: 1,000,000,000
Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976) was the youngest of 10 children and received a formal education only up to eight grade. After that, he decided to take his studies into his own hands and took classes in architecture, commerce, and art. At one point, he even studied at the Chicago Art Institute and American Academy of Art.
In 1920, young Sundblom was fortunate enough to become an apprentice at the Charles Everett Johnson Studio in Chicago. Sundblom spoke about his time there, saying the studio "boasted a galaxy of stars. I ran errands, washed brushes, etcetera, for Mac Barclay, Will Foster, Frank Snapp, [and] Harry Timmins... to mention just a few. One was found to learn something in that kind of company."
Sundblom soon became a master oil painter of the alla prima method. This technique requires speed and precision as each paint layer must be added to the next before it dries. This style gave Sundblom's work a variety of vibrant colors that made them favorites of 20th century advertisers. For this reason, Coca-Cola chose him to create a new version of Santa Claus in 1931. Sundblom's skill wowed the public, and made his beloved image of Santa an icon all future Santas were based on.