By Isidoro Mundo, Jr.
(Philippine Philatelic Journal, Jan-Feb 1954)
A child who would rather be late for his music
lessons and take the risk of getting a sound spanking than miss the
joy of looking at a beautiful array of stamps at a display window.
That was Charles Blum who, while yet in his kindergarten days,
began to show a genuine love for stamps.
Mr. Charles Blum was born in Zurich, Switzerland,
fifty-six years ago. Undoubtedly the blood of a philatelist runs in
his veins - his father was himself a stamp collector. How he started
to amass a big collection is interesting to note.
Young Charles then had an uncle in the
Philippines whose letters he ever awaited with perfect eagerness,
knowing that each of them contained a bunch of the then current
Philippine stamps, the first Philippine issues (double line
watermark, perf. 12), which are now much sought for. Once in a while
a few United States surcharged Philippines were also included. At
an early age, therefore, Mr. Blum was already well provided for with
good stamps for exchange. In his school everybody was swapping
stamps piece-for-piece. Being so young at that time and with no
knowledge about catalogues prices, watermarks, and perforations,
Charles used to get "the shorter end of the deals" until at last he
found a schoolmate who must have had an uncle in some German colony.
This boy supplied him with almost complete sets of the first German
colonial issues, which today are still among the highest priced
items in his collection.
On school vacations, our young collector spent
most of his time making the rounds of the various foreign
consulates, of which there were about twenty in his home town,
asking them for stamps of their
Although with some he was disappointed,
from others he was able to obtain envelopes full of stamps.
At about the same time Charles' parents forced
him to take music lessons, much against his will and inclination. On
the way to his teacher's house he used to stop at a stamp shop to
see the attractive sets of stamps, particularly those nicely mounted
large-sized French Colonials. What fascinated the young boy most
was the fine display of Indo-Chinese issues portraying a native girl
and bearing the surcharge of various French Post Offices in China.
Finally, his father discovered that he was
investing part of his music lesson money in stamps, and, as every
parent would do, he gave the erring son a good spanking. It was a
bitter pill to swallow, but Charles, to avoid all temptations, had
to take a round-about way to go to his music teacher!
If Mr. Blum did not become a good musician, he
blames the fact on his becoming a good stamp collector. He says,
"If my father had invested in stamps the money he spent for my music
lessons I would, by now, have a small fortune in stamps!"
Those Indo-Chinese stamps not only stimulated
Br. Blum philatelically. They might have awakened in him the urge
to see some of those foreign countries, for, once he had the chance
to come to the Philippines, he took the first available boat and
arrived here in February, 1920. Ever since, he has considered the
Philippines his second home where he has now a host of friends among
Filipino and foreign stamp collectors.
Blum loves to recall the time when he used to exchange philatelic
pleasantries with such prominent philatelists as Dr. Reyes, Dr.
Banks, Juan Mencarini, Remigio Garcia, Jose Castaner, Ramon Catala,
Walter Bruggman, and many others who have all gone into the world
To Mr. Blum, however, it was not only friends
that he acquired through stamp collecting. He also got a profound
knowledge of varied subjects that have been useful to him -
knowledge in geography, history, foreign currencies, the fauna and
flora of other countries, and many other subjects in all of which he
excelled in school more so through the information gathered from his
stamps than the knowledge imparted to him by his teachers. Mr. Blum,
therefore, recommends this hobby to the Filipino youth so that they
can acquire, practically free of charge or at a very small cost,
knowledge which not even the most expensive universities do impart.
suggests that parents and teachers should encourage the children to
take up this pleasant educational hobby.
On the subject of philately in the Philippines in
general, Mr. Blum regrets to say that at present there seems to
exist a "philatelic vacuum." Most of the older generation, he
says, are gone, a number of those still living have lost their
collections during the liberation and with them their interest in
Mr. Blum deplores very much the present
philatelic vacuum amongst the "veteranos". He is, however, gratified
to know that the younger generation is getting more and more
interested in philately and at the pace our young collectors are
progressing he believes it will not be many years from now when we
can boast again of a new crop of full fledged philatelists.
Although Mr. Blum believes that the PHILIPPINE
JOURNAL OF PHILATELY is really one of the finest published anywhere
in the world and that the local postal authorities have, in many
other ways, cooperated splendidly with local philatelists for the
past few years, yet he thinks a lot more could be done to popularize
Philippine stamps abroad. On his last visit to Europe, he learned
that very little interest is shown in Philippine stamps abroad, for
one reason: our stamps are heavily cancelled.
It is his feeling, therefore, that whatever
popularity the Philippines has gained abroad on account of the many
beautiful stamps issued since liberation, all has been wiped out by
the monstrous cancellations applied to our stamps on foreign mail,
both air and surface.
Blum suggests that a small sum be appropriated for the purchase of a
dozen or more steel cancellers to be applied on all foreign mails.
This, he believes, would go a long way towards restoring the lost
popularity of Philippine stamps.
Mr. Blum regrets the fact that he never could
transplant any interest in stamps to his family, although his wife
shows a great indulgence towards his hobby. His daughter, on the
other hand, has chosen a far more exciting hobby. Now a local flight
attendant in the Philippine Air Lines, she hopes to see the world
someday "via PAL".
By then Mr. Blum fairly hopes that his
daughter will combine business with pleasure and help him
philatelically by sending him "contributions" from abroad.