Ceremony for new Christmas postage stamp scheduled for Tuesday at Hearst Castle

National and state officials are expected at a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony Tuesday for a Christmas stamp featuring a 17th century artwork from Hearst Castle.

The U.S. Postal Service expects to print 600 million of the stamps featuring a “Madonna and Child” image by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi (1609-1685), also known as Sassoferrato.

All say “Christmas” at the top and “Sassoferrato” and “Hearst Castle” below the image.

The original painting will be on display. It usually hangs in a third-floor sitting room in Casa Grande, part of the Castle’s Tour 3 route.

The stamp ceremony begins at 11 a.m. on the main terrace at the Castle. The public may attend, but must register by phone at (866) 268-3243 and arrive at the Hearst Castle Visitor Center by 10:30 a.m.

Sheets of the 44-cent commemorative stamp, cachet envelopes, first-day-of-issue cancellations and official ceremony programs will be offered for sale at the visitor center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

— Kathe Tanner