Cameras clicked and applause rang out from a crowd of about 150 people Tuesday as James Bilbray, member of the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors, unveiled the “Christmas Madonna and Sleeping Child by Sassoferrato” holiday stamp at Hearst Castle.
Bilbray said, “I really think this is the most beautiful of all our Christmas stamps.” The design replicates an original painting created more than 300 years ago by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi (also known as Sassoferrato), which now hangs in Room No. 2 on the third floor of the Castle’s North Wing. The public can see it on Tour 3.
The crowd included officials, area residents, stamp collectors from as far away as the Bay Area and Hearst castle staff and volunteers. Many lined up following the brief ceremony to buy the stamps, first-day-of-issue cards and other collectibles, and then again to get autographs, including those of, from left above: Hoyt Fields, Castle museum director; Ruth Coleman, director of the California State Department of Parks and Recreation; Bilbray; and emcee Tony Cipolla of KSBY-TV.
— Kathe Tanner