Welcome to the incredible world of Phillumeny! It's a world rich in history and nostalgia. You'll march off to World War I with our Doughboys, watch FDR's New Deal take shape, and relive the great Presidential elections of the last 80 years. But even more important, you'll see a nation transform from a young nineteenth century nation to the world's great superpower of the modern world.
Political history not your forte? You'd be hard put to find any other hobby that encompasses such a vast panorama of Americana than this one does. From Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theater to New York City's Empire State Building, from the introduction of permanent waves and the washing machine to the appearance of the China Clipper and the internet...America...its people, its places, its values...is chronicled in matchcovers, those little seemingly insignificant pieces of colored cardboard which people have been using and casually tossing away for over a hundred years.
Phillumeny actually includes the collecting of matchcovers, matchboxes, and matchbox labels. Only here in North America, however, does the hobby focus mainly on matchcovers; the rest of the world's collectors are mainly interested in boxes and labels. That's because boxes and labels originated in Europe and spread from there, whereas our hero, the matchbook, originated in the United States and spread from here. Thus, this is a hobby that goes back to the 1830s, shortly after the introduction of the first label in 1829....that makes it an older hobby than stamp collecting! [hee hee]
For those of us who are "born collectors," this is a hobby that holds many attractions and offers just as many advantages. Compared to other collectibles, matchcovers are plentiful, inexpensive, and available. And, whereas so many hobbies are solitary and impersonal, when you become a matchcover collector, you become part of a worldwide phillumenic family! Of course, how close a 'relative' you become is up to you. The point is that there is an entire hobby organization in place, ready to welcome and help you, ready to supply you with mentors and partners, ready to give you the necessary connections that will allow you to get the most out of this fascinating endeavor. There are clubs coast to coast and worldwide, bulletins and newsletters being published monthly, trades flying back and forth from mailbox to mailbox, local meetings, regional swapfests, and national conventions.
If you're considering becoming a collector, I suggest you join the national hobby organization, Rathkamp Matchcover Society, for a year, get your feet wet, and see what it's all about. RMS will give you an overview of the hobby, but I also suggest that you join the closest local club to you [see US Clubs] for that first year, as well. That's where (if you're located in the local area) you'll get the real flavor of the hobby, where you'll meet your peers, swap covers and anecdotes, and get hands-on experience....and lots of covers!
And speaking of peers, I'd be sorely remiss if I closed without saying something about your fellow collectors. They are the friendliest people in the world. They share your interests, your concerns, and your triumphs. I wasn't just using a euphemism when I referred to the hobby as a 'phillumenic family.' It is! You'll establish friendships that will last a lifetime, and all those collectors will be looking out for your interests...just as you'll be looking out for theirs. And just wait until you attend your first big swapfest or convention and actually meet those friends! What a thrill! Yes, this is a hobby about matchcovers, but it's about people, too.
Well, come on in and take a look around!