Monday, December 13, 2010

Phillumeny – the love of Matchboxes

For many, Phillumeny would be a new word. But for those who love collecting match boxes and their labels, this word would mean a lot to them. Almost sounding like Philately, which is the hobby of collecting stamps; Phillumeny is the hobby of collecting matchboxes, matchbox labels, match covers and matchbooks.

I first across this word and the hobby of matchbox colleting some three four decades ago in 1972. Till then majority of matchboxes were produced in the East Pakistan. However with the creation of Bangladesh in December 1971, the supply of matchboxes to Pakistan ceased. One of the famous matchbox was Flower Basket, which had sticks made of something other than the normal wood. Another was Three Stars and a Rooster.

In order to make up the deficiency of the matchboxes, these started to be imported till factories in Pakistan were established to manufacture matchboxes indigenously. And thus came the onslaught of beautiful match boxes from across the globe. We saw some very aesthetically manufactured matchboxes with a wide variety of covers, themes and photos. One of my brothers started collecting these and soon he had a big wooden box full of these match boxes. I still remember a series of matchboxes, probably made in Poland, with 52 playing cards covers. We collected around 35 of the series, but could not complete the remaining. Then there were matchboxes with flags of various countries.

While the love of philately is fast diminishing due to more use of e-mails and SMSs, the Phillumeny continues to flourish as it is undeterred by advances in technology, though somewhat marred by use of electric and liquid gas cigarette lighters. Teiichi Yoshizawa of Japan is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for holding a record maximum of matchboxes and related material.

The matchbox collecting hobby geared up after the WW-II and continued to expand and saw its peak between 1960-80. Like I said before in one of my earlier posts, the trend of hobbies is rather on the decline as internet provides one place where one can have all of ones likes at one place. However, unlike Philately, Phillumeny is still “in” and there are lot of matchbox lovers still around the globe.

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