June and James Hall have been collecting Christmas stamps and postmarks for nearly 20 years and say their hobby only makes the season brighter and more fun.
June Hall, 65, says their collection includes a wide variety of stamps that depict certain aspect of Christmas, from sleigh rides and mistletoe to Santa and Christmas trees. Her postmarks, dated Dec. 25, go back to the year 1907 when first class mail cost one cent.She annually sends letters to postmasters in Bethlehem, Conn.; North Pole, Alaska; Santa Claus, Ind.; Christmas, Fla.; Noel, Miss; Mistletoe, Ky.; Snowflake, Ariz.; Rudolph, Ohio; and other places, asking them to cancel the stamps with the local postmark and send them back to her.
"I have sent so many letters to postmasters, I feel like they are my friends. In fact, the other day I got a phone call from the postmaster in Mistletoe, Ky., A.B. Couch, and we talked for some time."
She said she told Couch she started collecting Christmas postmarks for her granddaughter, Abigail Hall, the daughter of her oldest son, Stanley, of Layton, and his wife.
"Abigail is all grown up now. She is 19 and a student at the University of Utah and a reporter and assistant production manager for the school newspaper, the Daily Utah Chronicle. But she still likes to get the postmarks I collect for her."
She said she and her husband James, 74, a retired Union Pacific Railroad signal maintenance mechanic, are "collecting nuts. We collect everything. It makes life fun," she said.
The couple lived in Wyoming for several years and collected dozens of pieces of old tinware from three ghost towns near Kemmerer. They painted the kitchen pieces blue and then speckled them with white splashes and have put the tinware on the walls of their kitchen.
Their warm, charming 12-room frame home, built in the late 1930s and once the abode of a copper mining engineer, is filled with antiques and curios. Tables along the walls of the living and dining room contain rare glass bottles filled with antique buttons, clay and stone marbles from the early 1900s, thread spools and trinkets.
They have collected a variety of railroad items and, since they both love cats, then have some real ones and dozens of statues of cats. Mrs. Hall likes to make stuffed cat dolls for her grandchildren and friends and many of these colorful dolls are placed about the home.
But the Christmas stamps and postmarks are among the couple's favorite collectibles "Christmas is the biggest and best time of year and the stamps only make it better," she said.