A phillumenist...a person who follows phillumeny...in simple terms, a matchbox label collector. No, don't look at me with a new respectful eye...even I didn't know the term, but then, for most words/phrases/madness round the world that I don't know about, my favourite phrase is 'google hai na'.:) So, I googled 'match box label collectors are called' and came to know of the term.
Let me admit- I haven't collected a match box label since ages...not since I was in school, rather. Maybe because the matchbox has become somewhat obsolete, in these days of 'instant lighters' of the electronic type, which followed on the heels of gas lighters. One click and voila, the cooking gas is on. Of course, I( as do most people who do pooja with agarbattis) still need a matchbox to light the agarbattis.(Incense sticks) for the pooja- hate to light those with a lighter that gives off a flame that could singe the eyebrows, right?
I was reminded of this hobby when I was in Baroda, in June. And, when I asked Dad, he'd preserved all the labels from those days. I scanned a few of them, like these:
So, let's see now. as I said,the hobby began back when I was in school. Matchboxes used to be a lot of fun in those days. Dad had also brought back a lot of labels in 'mint'(Brand new) condition from his Russia trip then, and those were really what made me get interested in the hobby. ('Every other person collects stamps and coins', I thought- so, I needed to do something different.:))
I'd go around the shops in our area, checking out their matchboxes- some of our regular shopkeepers would give me a matchbox just like that, others would sell a single box, instead of insisting on buying a whole pack of 10. As the hobby picked up, I'd keep my eyes on the streets, as well, looking for any new labels. We'd gone to Delhi in the winter months of November/Dec, I recall(Obviously- school hols used to be during Diwali only...haha..)..and, I'd take my lil(Well, lil at that time) brother with me around Sadhna Enclave(where my cousins still stay), and do a lot of prospecting around for oil(ROFL- I deliberately said that to see if you're awake...the word is 'labels' not 'oil') and we would get a tidy collection every other day.
I also wrote to the addresses mentioned on the label factories, like 'Muthuramalingam Matchworks, Sattur', the address mentioned on one of the labels in the pics above. I'd write' Dear Sir, I'm a collector of matchbox labels(I don't think the word phillumeny was invented then, was it?). I've collected some labels from your esteemed factory also, but the problem is that they get torn when trying to remove them from the box(which was true- since even the tedious process of putting a label with it's glue and cardboard below in water, would not succeed many times). I'd be delighted if you could send me some spare labels from your factory'.....and, guess what? Some of them actually replied, some just sent dozens of labels across, one guy actually wrote on the back of the label that he was very glad to receive my letter and some labels were enclosed and also blessed me.:) I'm sure that label's also still with Dad, as is the one with the person's head which looks the same in both directions, i.e. by tilting the label 180 degrees. Will look for that and put it up here when I'm in Baroda in Aug end.
Aren't these great? Wouldn't you love to begin a matchbox label collection, now?
Some trivia I found via google:
THE FRICTION MATCH WAS INVENTED BY JOHN WALKER IN 1826.
Phillumenists collect matchbox labels, printed matchbox outers, matchboxes, matchbook covers, matchbooks, and other forms of match packaging as well as match strikers, match holders, matchbox holders and matchbook holders.
In fact, here's a complete website dedicated to phillumeny, if you're interested. I'll surely go through it. Maybe I'll restart the hobby when I'm back in Baroda...it's something different to do, na?
Speaking of matchboxes, do you know how to make a match box gun that shoots teeny square cardboard bullets? Will explain that next time.:)Cheerio and have a greeaat day!!:)