Hyderabad: He has a rare collection of about 20,000 match boxes from 120 countries and an equal number of stamps and identity cards.
This has been a passion for 50-year-old Jinna Bhaskar Reddy, who otherwise is a tourist guide/executive in Telangana Tourism Department in the city. The matchboxes date back to the erstwhile Nizam and King George era and so also the stamps. His unique collections have even attracted various organisations who honoured him for his work with citations. Living in a two-bedroom house in Balapur, Reddy has dedicated one of his rooms to his precious treasure.
He was recognised and appreciated for his efforts by Indian Talents Organisation. In his rare collection are match boxes like – 6th Nizam Mahboob Ali Khan and 7th Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, kings, queens, national leaders, film actors, nature, birds, animals, different vehicles, numbering labels, symbols, historical monuments label, temples, different type of fruits and flowers.
Bhaskar Reddy started this hobby when he was nine-years-old. “As a young kid, I was fascinated by stamps and match boxes. My grandfather used to smoke and I used to collect those match boxes in my childhood. My brother helped me in my collection. There was competition among my friends who would have the maximum and unique match boxes,” he recalls.
It continued even in college days and his friends too helped in the hobby. “Any stamps or match boxes would attract me. I don’t know the reasons for it. Some praised this hobby while few ridiculed me. But I went on with my mission. I made an effort to search and go to different places in the city to collect the stamps and match boxes,’’ said Bhaskar Reddy with a sheepish smile, who was part of the International virtual match box exhibition in January this year. It was originally scheduled to be conducted in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The collector could continue his unique hobby by becoming a tourist guide. “I used to tell and inform the tourists, both foreign and Indians, who came to the city. They all praised my passion and even some of them sent them from abroad and other places in the country. My collection grew and today my room is full of these collections. I feel proud of having matchboxes of the Nizam era or King George labelled match boxes. The interest is slowly waning as I have little space to keep all these collections in one place. Some of them have become too old and are very delicately preserved,’’ said Bhaskar Reddy, who went through severe financial hardships because of the Covid-19 as a very few tourists came to this city. Incidentally, Reddy was twice named as best tourist guide in 2009 and 2016.