Republic of the Philippines

      Stamps and Postal History


Philippines Philatelic Personalities





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

respective countries.  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.  Mr. 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 beyond.

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.  He 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 stamps.

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.  Mr. 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.


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