Philately is for bumboosers
U 15.2206-7: You can call me up by sunphone any old time. Bumboosers, save your stamps.
Don Gifford (Ulysses Annotated ) suggests that you might save your stamps ‘for collection by the church mission to be sold to a stamp dealer to raise money’. That may indeed be the case, but the formula illustrated by ‘bumboosers, save your stamps’ was a mainstay of old theatrical (and subsequently other) advertisements towards the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, both in Britain and America. In 1877 the Era – famous for its job ads for actors and singers – offered this:
The implication is not that the stamps should go to the church mission, but that unscrupulous applicants and swindlers should not even think of applying for the post. Mushroom managers were managers who seemed to appear overnight looking for instant success for their clients.
The inclusion of drunks and boozers in this category of undesirable applicants is soon found. Again, from the Era:
The formula was common in the States too, with the New York Clipper known particularly for it:
The San Antonio Gazette (Texas) associates the formula with ‘booze’:
Joyce may well have seen the formula reported in James Redding Ware’s Passing English of the Victorian era: a dictionary of heterodox English (1909), where his very words appear on page 55:
In fact, this occurrence of ‘bum-boozer’, of which Ware seems unfamiliar (it was also a name for a type of playing marble), may simply represent some confusion for ‘bum’ and ‘boozer’. A little later the Des Moines Daily News (Iowa) has:
Whatever the case, the formula belongs to the world of cheap theatricals, not church missions.