Tim Brophilist (1869)

The Daily Evening Express (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), October 27, 1869. Transcribed by Richard Mammana in 2022.

“Whence his name
And lineage long, it suits me not to say.”

The subject of this paper does not admit of a biographical notice, and if it were admissible our poetical quotation would seem to preclude the propriety of giving one. Who, then, knows anything about Tim Brophilist and his twin brother Phil Ophilist? Are their Christian names Timothy and Philip? And do boys only call them Tim and Phil, “for short?” These may be grave questions, and they may also be mere bagatelles. But a truce with trifling, albeit the subject, covered by these names, commenced in mere trifles, and is composed of a multitude of trifles; yet, in the aggregate, they are assuming a magnitude and an importance little dreamed of by those who are now most actively engaged in developing that subject. Presuming that our readers may entertain no special inclination to answer the questions we have propounded, we will proceed to do so ourselves, so far as our limited knowledge of the matter extends. There are school boys who could answer these important questions much better than we can, but they are all too much engaged in the subject itself to give any of its historical details to the public, even if they had the will to do so.

We have before us a little four-paged octavo monthly journal, published by Chas. A. Lyford, of Boston, Mass., and bearing date, September, 1869, called the Timbrophilist—whatever that may mean—and devoted to the subject of postage and revenue stamp collecting, including not only those of the United States and the British Provinces, but, also of the entire civilized world; for the use of government stamps, whatever annoyance and expense there may be connected with them, is a matter that is incidental to human civilization. We have also before us a twenty-page pamphlet, published by C. M. Metz, of Boston, called the Stamp Collector’s Hand-Book, printed in fine type, and giving descriptive lists of all the stamps, together with their prices, singly or in packs, canceled or uncanceled, of all the countries of the world, alphabetically arranged, &c. You need not look into Webster, nor Worcester, nor Walker, for we do not think you will find such words as Timbrophilist or Philophilist there—at least we know you will not find them in Webster, nor any other words of a similar import. But, from the publications aforenamed, we may infer that the term Timbrophilist means a collector, exchanger and preserver of Government stamps, and that this pursuit constitutes Timbrophilism. To show the importance this subject is assuming, there are already impostors and fraudulent dealers in the business—those who manufacture and sell counterfeit stamps to the unwary and uninformed; and the little paper before us occupies more than a column of its limited space, in giving, at least one of these fradulent dealers, a most severe and sarcastic lampooning. This criticism applies to all “Timbrophilic” journals and dealers, but especially to “one Cornelius van Risum,” and his mouth-piece, the “Continental Philatelic Magazine,” the avowed agents and advocates of “Mahe & Co. of Paris, the most notorious counterfeiters and dealers in fictitious stamps” on the continent of Europe.

Timbrophilism! Well, we long have thought that so much energy and research ought not to remain long without a secular or scientific recognition, and now it has assumed “a local habitation and a name,” as well as a literature, that name ought to be forthwith put into the very first reprint, or new edition, of our Standard Dictionaries, with a full and clear definition of the term, together with the root from which it has been derived—if it ever had a root of its own, and is not a mere parasite or mistletoe, upon the literary and scientific body politic. Timbrophilism, even here in the city of Lancaster, is a subject of no mean proportions, and the unsophisticated reader will perhaps be surprised, when he is informed that a single individual in this city embraces in his collection over one thousand one hundred denominational varieties of foreign and American government stamps.

The business, in this city, is altogether in the hands of the boys. Master Charles Widmyer has perhaps the largest collection, and the one just alluded to. Our boys have between seven and eight hundred different varieties in theirs, and there are many others who have collections, some perhaps larger than the last named, but certainly many that are smaller. These boys keep up an active correspondence with stamp dealers in the east and west, and through them with Europe; and their names and Timbrophilic reputations are, perhaps, as well known as active scientists and theologians are in the scientific and theological worlds, whatever importance may be attached to such reputations. Under any circumstances, we bid the boys God-speed. There may be moral and intellectual improvement involved in such a pursuit; for, to a certain extent, it embraces practical “object lessons” in geography and political history, and prevents idleness, corner lounging, and mental sluggishness. If they possess faculties that are susceptible of qualification for higher, more extended, and more useful pursuits, Timbrophilism will not damage or destroy those faculties, and the knowledge thus gained may prove a valuable auxiliary in other directions. Even the collection of the different varieties of “Buttons” and “Business Cards,” on the part of girls and boys, induces energies, activities and exercises that are useful, and develope knowledge. In the ornamental department of the late agricultural exhibition, at the Park, we saw a string of buttons, collected by one of our city girls that must have required an immense amount of labor and active research to bring together, and no one can tell the amount of apathy, discontent and unhappiness that was prevented by such an exercise. Anything—not morally damaging—rather than physical and mental idleness, or inactivity; for, even if they should pass through a graduation in our High School, those habits are sure to terminate in retrogression or conservative fossilization.

GRANTELLUS.

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