Saturday, 1 April 2017

Phillumeny: Collecting Stories, One Matchbox at a Time!

I was a child, travelling in a train when I found this matchbox.

The first matchbox that caught my attention :)

Little did i know that this would be my first ever matchbox in my upcoming collection that I'll start to build in my teenage years.

phillumenist
fɪˈluːmənɪst
noun
a collector of matchbox or matchbook labels.

I am a phillumenist. I find it interesting how these little matchboxes stores such large stories. What started off as an inexpensive hobby for me, it turned soon into a gateway of understanding our history better. With over hundreds of matchboxes in my collection, I have noticed how there is a common theme that runs across all the designs on the pack. While tigers, elephants, roosters and bicycles are the most common ones, the diversity ranges from mode of transports, food items, historic monuments and deities of worship. All of them printed beautifully according to the era in which they were made, like a pretty intrinsic design on a tiny box! A piece of art.


I remember getting these as souvenirs while I travel to any part of the globe as I search for a local paanwala with my eyes glued to the window of my car to get a unique matchbox this time. And oh how the managers raised their eyebrows when I asked for a matchbox in a non smoking room in the hotel. My friend Pranjali, helping me in building up this collection in the summer break and my mom remembering all the boxes I still need. So many memories!

I don't understand why phillumeny isn't as popular as it should be. Just like stamps, it depicts the history of the era, stories and values that raises a society and hence are little treasures that serves as the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle when we look back in time. With the modern times, it only gets less popular which concerns me. I wished everyone can see with the same amazement as the seven year old me in the train.

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