Cactus Flowers in Mesa Arizona

What do Santa Claus and cactus flowers have in common?

They are both recently featured on USPS Forever stamps.  The Santa stamps were issued in October 2018 and the cactus flower stamps were issued in February 2019.

As I mentioned in Sparkling Holidays Coca-Cola Bottling Cachet, I created my first day cover with the Santa stamp.  This weekend, I brought one of the bottling cachets to Mesa, Arizona to make it a double with the official first day of issue cancellations for both the sparkling holiday and cactus flower stamps.  My first dual-cancelled first day cachet.

The first day of issue ceremony for the cactus stamps was held on February 15, 2019 at the Mesa Convention Center, in conjunction with the AmeriStamp Expo (ASE), which was by the way the last winter convention of the American Philatelic Society (APS).

Just as I have created the Sparkling Holiday cachet to celebrate my 25th year of collecting Coca-Cola in 2019, I came to Mesa to receive my 25-Year APS Member pin during the convention general meeting.  It was great to see so many philatelists including: Dr. Cheryl Ganz, former chief curator at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and current APS Board Vice President; Kristin Patterson, American Philatelic Research Library (APRL) Trustee, and chair of PENPEX stamp show; and Trish Kaufmann, former President of Confederate Stamp Alliance (CSA) and current APS Board Vice President and 50-year APS member!

P.S. Now that I have reached my 25-Year APS milestone, I look forward to the next milestone - 50-Year medallion.

Sparkling Holidays Coca-Cola Bottle Cachet

Here's my first attempt in creating a personal memento by concocting ingredients from two of my favorite pastimes: philately and Coca-Cola® bottle collecting.

Step 1. Order Sparkling Holidays souvenir sheet

On October 11, 2018, the United States Postal Service (USPS) released a set of four Sparkling Holidays stamps and one souvenir sheet featuring the Coca-Cola Santa Claus created by Haddon Sundblom.

The stamps with four different Santas come in booklets of 20 and are available in post offices.  The 5th Santa design is the souvenir sheet and is only sold online or by phone order. The souvenir sheet features the 1963 Santa standing by the fireplace.  Above the fireplace is a bottle of Coca-Cola on the mantel.  The stamp in the souvenir sheet is also larger in size than the other four Santa stamps.

I placed an order online and received my souvenir sheets in 4 days.

Step 2.  Create the Santa bottle cachet

I have never created a cachet before and I am not much of an artist either.  I looked around in my collection of Coke bottles and picked out two for my project.   One was the 75th Anniversary of the Sundblom Santa from 2006.  The other was an ornament-shaped Santa bottle that was the holiday edition of the Coke Side of Life campaign from 2008. I took pictures of both bottles with my iPhone.

I transferred the bottle photos to my MacBook Air and used Preview to crop the images.  I got an online coupon for Vistaprint and created a simple design with the contour bottle in the front and the round bottle in the back.   I placed an order online with my design and the envelopes arrived in just 3 days.

Step 3. Assemble the cachet with souvenir sheet

Once I had my cachets and souvenir sheets in hand, I affixed the souvenir sheet to the cachet.  I wanted the entire souvenir sheet on the envelope.  It was not easy to peel off the entire self-adhesive sheet off the backing.  I had to remove the stamp first then carefully the rest of the sheet without tearing it.

Step 4. Add First Day of Issue cancellation

I mailed the completed cachets with self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services to have the First Day of Issue (FDOI) postmark applied.  Due to either the popularity of these Sparkling Holidays issues or the holiday season, my unofficial First Day Covers (FDC) took nearly 30 days before they were returned to me.

Step 5. Enjoy with a bottle of Coca-Cola!

Now I have created my first Bottling Cachet featuring the 75th Anniversary Sundblom Santa Coca-Cola bottle and the first ever philatelic issue depicting a Coca-Cola bottle from the USPS with the official pictorial First Day of Issue cancellation.

An original cachet just in time to ring in the new year and celebrate my 25th year of collecting Coca-Cola in 2019.

P.S. philatelically speaking, have you created a memento to celebrate an occasion or commemorate an event?