Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
A Christmas gift reminder: Copies of my book “Growing Up in Albion” are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce, or at the Books & More bookstore. Stop by when doing your Christmas shopping this week.
Last week’s article about the Christmas seals also reminded us about another collectible item closer to home. For many years, Starr Commonwealth For Boys (presently Starr Commonwealth Schools) issued their own Christmas seal stamps. These apparently were distributed to donors and friends of this esteemed institution, which dates back to 1913. The stamps were issued at least into the 1970s.
Most of these stamps are rectangular in size, measuring roughly an inch and a quarter wide by to up to two inches tall. Many bear a winter scene, and words such as “Season’s Greetings,” “Yuletide Greetings,” Christmas Greetings,” or “Holiday Greetings.” Some just state “Starr Commonwealth for Boys.” Several of them are elaborately designed on embossed aluminum foil. Unfortunately, most of the earlier stamps (which are the scarcest), particularly those from the 1930s and 1940s, don’t have the year-date on them. I’ve recently obtained an assortment of Starr stamps from the late 1930s into the early 1970s, although I’m not sure what years several stamps were produced due to the lack of dates.
As was the case with the “real” Christmas seals produced by the National Tuberculosis Association, Starr Commonwealth Christmas seals were placed on the backs of envelopes to “seal” the flap. They served as reminder of the legendary work that Floyd Starr was accomplishing at Starr Commonwealth for Boys along the shores of Montcalm Lake, two miles west of town.
From our this week we illustrate the 1953 Starr Christmas seal stamp. It states, “Christmas Greetings 1953. Boys’ Choir, Chapel in the Woods. Starr Commonwealth for Boys, Albion, Mich.” The center depicts fourteen boys dressed in their white satin angelic choir robes (no halos), singing with hymn books in their hands. The Chapel-in-the-Woods is a well-known Starr attraction, and has been the site of countless weddings since it was dedicated in October, 1950.
The Starr Commonwealth story of course, is a fascinating one that is rich in history and heritage. I suggest reading the book “Faith Made Visible” authored by the late Keith Fennimore for a better understanding of its impact upon the lives of hundreds of youth, as well as its part in the history of Albion. How many of our readers remember seeing these Starr Commonwealth stamps on the envelopes of Christmas cards you received?
The 1953 Starr Christmas seal stamp
Next: SANTA CLAUS, 1953
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic