Classic Christmas Seals, Vintage 1944

The first Christmas Seal in the US was designed in 1907 by Emily Bissell, the cousin of a doctor who served in an early tuberculosis (TB) sanatorium. The facility was financially strapped and close to shutting its doors when Miss Bissell heard about a Danish man who designed and sold seals (stamps) to raise money for TB in Denmark. She decided to do the same. For several decades, Christmas Seals funded TB treatment and research.

Today, sales support the fight against many deadly lung diseases. A 1944 poster promoting the seals was designed by Spence Wildey and published by the National Tuberculosis Association (later renamed the American Lung Association). The image is an illustration of a letter carrier walking through the snow. Jaunty and angular, he holds a letter in one hand and a mail bag filled with gifts. His legs are two wrapped and beribboned packages. The poster encourages the public to “Buy Christmas Seals [to] Protect your Home from Tuberculosis.” This image is one of many in NLM’s Prints and Photographs collection.