Announced only 17 days before it was issued, the stamp was not on the original schedule put out by the Post Office in late 1998. The U.S. is also issuing a stamp in early January marking the beginning of the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon.
"The Year 2000 stamp will serve as a historical record of a unique period of time in our country," said Postmaster General William Henderson, in a press release. "This colorful stamp will also help bring a little joy and excitement to that unique moment in everyone's day when we go through our mail."
Based on artwork by American illustrator J. C. Leyendecker (1874-1951), the 33-cent stamp hails the beginning of the year 2000 with a traditional image of a baby ringing in the New Year.
This New Year's baby originally appeared on the cover of the Jan. 2, 1937, issue of The Saturday Evening Post, according to the Postal Service.
Leyendecker illustrated covers featuring the New Year's baby for The Saturday Evening Post for nearly 40 years, and contributed more than 300 covers overall during his career. He also served as a role model for the young Norman Rockwell.
Special postmarks are being offered in Washington on either side of the New Year: "New Year's Eve Station" on Dec. 31 and "Celebrate 2000 Station" on the other.
Canada is issuing a New Year's stamp on Jan. 1, says CBS News Reporter Lloyd de Vries, while Australia's Celebrate 2000 stamp is a hologram that switches between "1999" and "2000."
Britain's Millenium Series includes a tribute to indoor plumbing, but Royal Mail rejected a toilet design for that stamp.
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