- Phillumeny is the collecting
of matchcovers...and matchboxes and labels, so you're
not limited to matchcovers unless you wish to be. However, if
you're seriously going to collect boxes and/or labels, there
are some factors you should be aware of.
- With regard to boxes,
although there are plenty of U.S. boxes to be collected, their
primary use remains in the Old Wolrd (Europe, Asia, and Africa).
Here in North America, the primary emphasis for collectors, and
the preponderance of production, is on matchcovers. Within a
few decades of the invention of the matchbook (1892, here in
the U.S.), the matchbook became the primary format for domestic
matches. Hence, the North American interest in those over boxes.
- Still, there is a plentiful
supply of American boxes. As of this writing, for example, there
are at least 12,750 different American Ace boxes, and 20,000
Pocketboxes...and those are just two American brands. And, much
to the delight of collectors, both those brands tend to open
very easily (most collectors throw the drawer away and then open
the cover along the seam where the flap has been glued).
- If you're going to collect
foreign boxes, there are many more of them, but they also come
in many different sizes (making it more difficult to mount them
all in albums), and most seem to have be put together with Super
Glue. Also, there is the problem of procuring such. You'll almost
certainly have to develop connections to foreign collectors to
act as your source. And then, there is the problem with foreign
languages. How good is your Arabic, or Hindi, for example?
- Personally, I've always
found boxes to be a pain, although I certainly collect them when
they happen to fall into my other categories.
- When it comes to labels,
if you're here in North America, you're in the wrong continent
altogether. Labels haven't been used here in the U.S. for a very,
very long time, and so, consequently, collectors here have little
or no interest in collecting such, even though they're the oldest
of the three types of collectibles found within the hobby of
phillumeny. They still abound in the Old World, though.
- But, what are labels anyway? In the old days,
the design and text that were to go on the matchbox were actually
printed on a label, which was then glued onto the box, itself.
Collectors could then soak off the label and collect such. But,
Western countries long ago moved to either printing directly
on the box or on a wrapper which could not be removed from the
box...hence, no more labels there. Still, Asia, Africa, and especially
Eastern Europe, continue to pour forth labels in vast quantities.
- Collecting labels is like
collecting stamps. They're very thin pieces of paper; you need
to handle them with tweezers. They need to be handled with care.
And, since all but a relative few are much smaller than a matchcover,
they're more difficult to keep track of.
- Your only real source
of labels is going to be foreign collectors...which also means
foreign postage. Again, though, there's always ebay.