The U.S. Postal Service has issued a new Chanukah stamp, just in time for Thanksgivukkah. As part of the Postal Service’s Holiday Celebrations series, the 2013 Forever Hanukkah stamp features a dramatic, modern, iron-forged menorah, lit with nine white beeswax candles.
Steve Bronstein of Marshfield, Vt., forged the menorah, which was photographed by George Brown of Alexandria. Ethel Kessler of Bethesda served as art director for the stamp.
Kessler is the creative director and designer for Kessler Design Group, Ltd., a design communications firm in Bethesda. Her clients have included the National Park Service, National Geographic Television, the Smithsonian Institution and the Clinton administration.
For more than 14 years, she has directed the art for more than 250 stamps for the U.S. Postal Service, including previous Chanukah stamps and stamps promoting breast cancer awareness. Her Breast Cancer Semi-Postal stamp of 1998 has gone on to raise around $77 million for breast cancer research.
Kessler had searched in stores and online for interesting chanukiah options for the latest stamp, and was enthralled when she discovered the menorah made by Bronstein, whom she says had no idea his menorah was being considered.
The image that goes on a stamp is ultimately decided by the Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, but Kessler is happy they chose the black-forged menorah, instead of two other traditional/historic menorahs that were in the final running.
“As an art director and designer, you need to be aware of what will show up on a stamp,” Kessler says. “I loved that it was made by an American craftsperson. [I’m an] advocate for American crafts.”
Brown, who has been in the commercial photography business for 30 years, did a wide variety of shots with Bronstein’s menorah and the other two finalists, shooting group and individual shots to see what would be the most interesting.
“When we started working with [Bronstein’s], it was interesting because you could do things with the light to bring out forge marks and [capture textures],” Brown said. “When we were shooting, we had the feeling that this is the one that [will be chosen].”
Kessler, who has won more than 200 design-related awards during her career, is proud of all the stamps whose art she’s directed, whether they feature shots of Yosemite National Park or images promoting Alzheimer’s awareness. “I call my stamps my children,” she says.
The 46 cent Forever Hanukkah stamps can be purchased at post offices, usps.com/stamps and on eBay at ebay.com/stamps.