Editor's Note: Man Wong is one of the few IFOB members who has published a book about bookmarks. What stands out in her activities described below is her desire to spread the word about bookmarks and to preserve them for the future. She links her love of bookmarks to their ability to document her life and record her memories. Congratulations Man!
1. Tell us about yourself – where you are from, your occupation, etc.
2. How did you start collecting bookmarks? Do you remember your first bookmark?
The first set of bookmarks I collected came from my dad. I remember that when I was a child, my father often had to work, and once he went to the mainland for business. He saw some bookmarks decorated with dried leaves and butterflies on China Civil Aviation, and thought they looked good. He brought them home for me. On the dry leaves, the veins of the leaves were clearly textured, and the butterfly pattern on it was lifelike. I thought it was very beautiful, and I started collecting bookmarks from then on.
3. Do you have any favorite types or special emphasis in your collection?
I specially treasure those bookmarks with my favorite idols. One is the famous singer Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing and the other one is the artist Andy Lau Tak Wah. When I was still in secondary school, I couldn’t afford to buy many bookmarks and so I could only select two or three from the full set. It’s a pity that I can't collect a full set.
4. What is the most unusual bookmark in your collection?
In my collection, there is are a set of bookmarks that are presented as Dinosaur bones stacked layer by layer which I bought through a Dinosaur exhibition held in Hong Kong. And the traditional Chinese paper-cut A Dream of the Red Mansions Character bookmarks which was also first bought by my dad. These two sets show a different presentation from the traditional paper cut to modern cut with specific design. It’s not common to find out about other bookmark creations nowadays.
5. How do you acquire your bookmarks?
On campus, teachers will give away bookmarks with words of encouragement, students will send bookmarks on their birthdays, and between male and female students, they will send messages with bookmarks.
There are also friends from the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Japan and other places who have exchanged duplicate bookmarks for mutual benefit.
In Hong Kong, where space is limited, it may be a luxury to collect things. Hong Kong fans tend to hand over bookmarks. Instead of sending them to landfills to bury their memories, they always hope that someone who has a heart will keep them on their behalf.
Sometimes I had to pursue the bookmarks I wanted. The Asian TV series "Blue Moon" once published a game with prizes in the newspaper. The gift was a bookmark. Of course, I immediately sent a letter to participate, and I applied for a full set.
However, sometimes unexpected gifts will fall from the sky. One day I noticed on the recycling box that there was a stack of bookmark-shaped objects above! I found that the bookmarks were still fresh and clean, and immediately took them home like a treasure. So sometimes I feel like something is meant to be, so I can take it home so it doesn't end up in a landfill.
I found out that government departments and some institutions will launch relevant publicity bookmarks to remind everyone to respond to crises, such as teaching everyone how to deal with natural disasters. Changes in Hong Kong can also be discovered through bookmarks. For example, I have some bookmarks published by the Lands Department in my collection, and I will see some small changes in the landscape. Or there are the earlier logos of the Urban Council in the bookmarks, which the younger generation may not have seen already.
Sometimes I go to the second-hand market to find relics, but the price of bookmarks is very erratic. As for the selection criteria, if it can give me the feeling of 'electric shock', I will buy it even if it is expensive.
6. How many bookmarks do you have (an estimate)?
One day in 2009, I suddenly became obsessed with counting the bookmark stock, and I thought I had stored more than 1,000 bookmarks and was proud of it. Suddenly, I wanted to apply to Guinness World Records to be the person with the most bookmarks, so I checked it out. It was discovered that in another country in the world, someone had already achieved this record, and it was more than 100,000 copies!
I decided to look for someone by the name of Frank Divendal. After a lot of searching on the Internet, I finally found a website with regularly updated collections and a bookmark exchange platform, which is where I got his email. In the end, I managed to get in touch with Frank Divendal, the Guinness world record holder in the Netherlands, who was more than willing to exchange duplicate bookmarks with me and became my strongest bookmarking friend. [Note: see this interview for more information on correspondence with Frank Divendal]
I checked the records, and in 2017 he had 160,000 copies in stock. As for me, there are about 3,000 or 4,000 copies. Although I have doubled it, I am still far behind him. But for me, collecting bookmarks is not only about quantity, but also about quality. It is a record of every stage of my life.
7. How do you organize, display and store your collection?
To classify, it is necessary to have an outline. There are few collection books in Hong Kong that can be used for reference. It is neither a stationery series, nor a paper art series, nor a Hong Kong feeling series... I tried to search in different ways, but still It was difficult to start, until I saw Appreciation of Chinese Bookmark, which helped me make a systematic classification, and this book became one of my collections.
My bookmark classification may not be completely in line with the system, but it must be divided according to my preferences, because I think the most important meaning of collection is to store memories and thoughts, such as my Facebook page: Bookmarks and Memory, to commemorate the reason why bookmarks exist. It is because of their functionality, which is convenient for people to read, and also has the meaning of communication between the two. That I also named my Instagram account after this.
Having saved bookmarks for decades, I am not the only "Bookmark Collector" in Hong Kong, but I believe that I will keep my passion and remain eager to keep collecting to save bookmarks.
In March 2021, I first published my book related to my bookmark collections and stories.
Then from 24 Apr - 24 May 2021, I held the first “Hong Kong Bookmark Exhibition” in Silver Café in Mong Kok to share my collection with the public and memories about the bookmark in Hong Kong
I held a Bookmark exhibition at the 31st Hong Kong Book Fair, 15 July 2021, and hosted a seminar to share my bookmark collection history and insight:. Hong Kong Book Fair 2021: Bookmark Collection Notes - A Page of Life, Hong Kong and the World
After collecting bookmarks for so many years, I really hope that there is a place to show everyone, so that everyone can know that bookmarks can actually be very colorful.
8. What has been your experience in using the IFOB Swap List?
The swap list is really useful and brought me to know other fellow collectors from other countries. IFOB Members are nice to invite for swapping bookmarks. I really appreciate this and enjoy this journey.
9. What do you enjoy about IFOB? Anything you would like to see IFOB do in the future?
From IFOB, I gain a lot of valuable information related to bookmark collecting, such as bookmark history, culture and activities in each country. I am impressed by members’ passion and effort towards bookmark collecting. These also inspired me to improve my collection by taking reference from them, such as how IFOB members store their bookmarks, how they classify into different levels or categories.
10. What did you do to celebrate World Bookmark Day this year?
I designed a bookmark and brief video to introduce for the 6th World Bookmark Day, through Extraordinary Publications via Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. This designated bookmark will be treated as a gift with each purchase by an online bookstore with a limited quota.
I also contributed to IFOB for World Bookmark Day a free printable bookmark designed by the illustrator Bella Chan, Instagram: @_bea.aaaa. This is a digital painting based on a Sunset photo taken at Cheung Chau, Hong Kong.
Finally, I arranged a live chat to further celebrate the event and chat with anyone who is interested in the bookmarks collection, and promote this interest in Hong Kong. And I hope to raise more awareness to support this activity in the future.
11. Do you collect anything else?
I used to collect the McDonald’s Toys in the past, however, I didn’t collect them for long. Puzzles is another good leisure game. It makes me relax and focus on solving puzzles. But I didn’t collect much as there was limited space, so I only kept those with special designs and with high difficulties.
12. Do you have any advice for those who are just beginning to collect bookmarks?
I would say that when you start to collect bookmarks, record if there is any story about the bookmark, no matter if it's a gift from friends, a souvenir from a tour, or picked up from any exhibition or bookstore. When there is a story embedded into the bookmark, it seems to grant them life.
See "Bookmark Collection Notes": Today, why do we still need bookmarks?" from Orange News for more about Man's collection and a video where she shows more of her collection (text can be translated but not video).