Anderson, Indiana

Warner Sallman's "Head of Christ" to be featured on postage stamp

Mon, 2009-11-30 12:41 -- univcomm
November 30, 2009

Warner Sallman’s painting, Head of Christ, will make its first-ever appearance on a postage stamp next year. The stamp will be released March 24 in the Åland Islands, an autonomous province of Finland situated between that country and Sweden. Sallman’s father, Elias Sallman, emigrated to the United States from the Åland Islands in 1886.

Anita Haggblom and Jason Knapp stand next to Warner Sallman's Head of ChristThe painting is arguably one of the most widely recognized religious works of art around the world. It has been reproduced more than 500 million times in various forms, from art prints to clocks, pocket cards, and many other materials. Yet, the image has never been featured on a postage stamp.

The decision to feature Sallman’s work has been in the plans for about 10 years, said Anita Häggblom, director of Åland Post Stamps.

Häggblom was on campus at Anderson University on Monday, Nov. 23, to view the Warner Sallman collection, which consists of around 200 works by Sallman, including the original 1941 painting of Head of Christ.

[PHOTO: Anita Häggblom and Jason Knapp, professor of art and director of the Wilson Galleries at Anderson University, stand beside Warner Sallman's original Head of Christ painting.]

The visit was meaningful to Häggblom, as she recalled seeing Sallman’s images in her childhood. “When we went to church, in the classes for children, often I would see these pictures,” she said, adding that her grandmother had a print of the Head of Christ hanging on her kitchen wall.

One of the most important criteria for selecting artwork for Åland stamps is that the subject have some connection to the Åland Islands. “We have Åland immigrants around the world, and those people are very keen on every aspect or every product that these people might have done,” said Häggblom. Yet “there are people in Åland who don’t know about Warner Sallman. So this is a way to promote Warner and other immigrants.”

Anderson University considers the printing to be special. “We were unaware that Warner Sallman’s father came to the United States from the Åland Islands,” said Chris Williams, director of university communications at AU. “This is a very special distinction for the Warner Sallman art collection. The inquiry by Åland Post Stamps represents the very first time an image from the collection has been featured on an international collectible stamp.”

Häggblom also visited Warner Press on Monday, as she had been in communication with the company regarding licensing rights for Head of Christ.

“We’re very pleased to see continued global interest in the most recognized image of Christ,” said Mike Meadows, marketing and communications manager at Warner Press. “Granting permission for this type of usage will further perpetuate the familiarity of the image and provides the opportunity to touch the lives of people all over the world.”

Warner Press receives requests for the use of Sallman’s work on a weekly basis from national media outlets, gift companies, publishers, ministries, and individuals. While most of these requests are domestic, some are international, said Meadows.

Aland Islands stamps featuring Warner Sallman's Head of ChristÅland Post Stamps has been issuing stamps since only 1984. Yet today, more than 35,000 customers have standing orders for new issues, according to Häggblom.

The stamp features the Head of Christ painting surrounded by a gold border. The full press sheet includes 30 stamps — 15 on the left and 15 on the right. The middle of the sheet features the name of Warner Sallman set in stylized script, flanked by two of Sallman’s other well-known works: Christ at Heart’s Door and The Lord is My Shepherd. The first-day cover also features Christ at Heart’s Door, and a cancellation mark that features a stylized “WS” for Warner Sallman.

Details are still being discussed for distribution of the stamps in the United States, said Häggblom.

Since May 1987, Anderson University and Warner Press have jointly shared ownership of the Warner Sallman Collection. Warner Press holds the copyright and distribution rights, while the university maintains the physical collection. The collection may be viewed on the Web at Warner Sallman prints and products are available on the Warner Press Web site at

— Randy Dillinger is Web Content Editor and SEO Manager at Anderson University. Story reposted with permission from The Herald Bulletin.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.