Alan Downer (UK)

Exhibit : Camera quality matchboxes

Inspired by a friend who had just started to collect matchboxes, my collection started on the 7th April 1966, at the age of 14.

The initial collection, included matchboxes and cigarette packets. However, I soon decided to concentrate on matchboxes. Not only complete matchboxes, also the labels, bookmatch covers, match hardware, in fact any item connected to the match industry. My collection still remains a general collection, although I have a special interest in a number subjects. These include Spanish (1840s-1950s), labels marked Foreign Made, and the brand Swan Vestas. I also have a deep interest in the older issues of countries such as Mexico, France, Italy, Cuba, and some Central & South American countries, as well as the older British matchboxes and labels.

In 1972, as part of my mechanical engineering studies at college, I was required to give a lecture to the other students. The research for this led to the discovery of the existence of the “British Matchbox Label & Booklet Society” (BML&BS), now known as the “British Matchbox Label & Bookmatch Society”, through two books written by Joan Rendell. I joined the BML&BS in October 1972 and have remained a member ever since.

My interest in phillumeny has allowed me to see some impressive collections by visiting many fellow collectors and attending meetings in a number of countries in Europe. This has enriched my life and I have gained many friends directly because of this hobby.

I have been part of the committee of the BML&BS since 1995, and from October 2006 I have been the Editor of the “Match Label News”, their magazine.

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Mike Tree (UK)

Exhibit : Geest Line

I was born in 1954 at Boston in Lincolnshire  and have been collecting matchboxes & labels since the early 1960’s, when my Grandfather took me on walks around the local seaport – Boston Dock. This was instrumental in introducing me to matchboxes which were very often given to me (as presents) from crews on the visiting coasters.  The many and varied nationalities were indeed a good source and in particular the Russian and Dutch ships proved to be a prolific supply of new items.

One such fleet worthy of mention is that of the Geest North Sea Line, where a group of 5 sister vessels made weekly calls into the Port, and this resulted in numerous bags and boxes of matchboxes being collected for my ever growing collection.  See my exhibit.

Having been invited onboard on several occasions this culminated in sea voyages to Holland and spending holidays with families in the Rotterdam area. Needless to say my collection of Dutch items increased significantly during the 1960’s decade.

In the following years my collection has now increased significantly to include worldwide labels and skillets and continues to grow month by month.  I  have a keen interest in Dutch issues together with Belgian, Australian, Russian, UK market such as Cornish Match, Matchmakers, Bryant and May, England’s Glory and really any other appealing origins.

I recall these are 2 of the earliest Russian labels given to me from a visiting coaster
I recall these are 2 of the earliest Russian labels given to me from a visiting coaster
Examples of the first Dutch labels
Examples of the first Dutch labels which had me wondering how many there may be in this set, especially as numbering bearing A, B, C, D & E prefixes were being acquired!
Another Russian treasure
Another Russian treasure acquired and followed by other images in the set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pat Stevens (UK)

Exhibit : Chuckmucks

I am fortunate in that I cannot remember not being a collector of matchboxes and their labels.  The fascination was probably started by having a pipe smoking father who consumed more matches than tobacco.  I do remember being very regularly scolded by my mother for picking up used boxes in the street.  For many years the collection was modest and it was when I was in my 20’s I discovered the British Matchbox and Booklet Society, met other collectors, realised the breadth of the hobby and learned to avoid the 2 classic tools of many uninformed collectors – scissors and the glue pot. 

My particular interests have changed and developed over the 50 plus years of collecting with the prime focus now on boxes and labels from Norway and Sweden.  Along the collecting route many smaller topics such as labels imported into the UK marked Foreign Made, Bryant and May promotional skillet boxes with a/c 23 and 26, match related ephemera, books about the hobby and match making along with many other aspects of the hobby have particularly taken my attention.

I have gained great value from meeting with other collectors and learnt through sharing knowledge and seeing what and how others collect and present their collections.

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Mike Pryor (UK)

Exhibits : Mandolins, Old Cornish mines, Why I started collecting

I started collecting matchboxes and labels in 1966. My aunt and uncle owned a tobacconist shop in Cornwall and I ‘worked’ there for them marking and delivering newspapers. This is where I first saw the Old Cornish Mine series of labels which fascinated me, and started a life-long interest in phillumeny.

Specialism – Spain

Since meeting the legendary collector and founder of the Cornish Match Company in 1971, David van der Plank, I have had a deep interest in Spanish Matchboxes and the history of the Spanish Match industry which began in 1836.

Gremio box, ca. 1895
Gremio box, ca. 1895

My collection contains Spanish examples from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, and although the majority of these are labels I do have a good number of beautiful complete boxes.

Like most collectors I also have many examples from other countries, and prefer complete boxes wherever possible. I also always enjoy exchanging information with other collectors and learning new things about our wonderful hobby of phillumeny.

 

Publications and Web sites

I write regular articles for the Match Label News, which is the journal of the British Matchbox Label and Bookmatch Society.

I have also developed two web sites which focus on specific aspects of my collection :

  • Gross packet label, a few Spanish Inserts
    Gross packet label, a few Spanish Inserts

    The Old Cornish Mine web site describes the history of the series which first got me interested in collecting, and shows illustrations of all the labels known to have been issued www.old-Cornish-mines.co.uk

  • Spanish Matchbox Inserts (Fototipias) web site is dedicated to the history and beauty of the Insert cards which were issued in Spanish matchboxes between 1897 and 1910 www.inserts.org.uk

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Jesús María Bollo García (Spain)

Exhibits : Murder on Fuencarral street, 19th century scrapbook albums, 21st Century treasure

In 1955 there was a joint military base of the American-Spanish army in Torrejón de Ardoz, a town near Madrid. For senior military officials, the American army rented or bought (I don’t know exactly which) a hotel that was located very close to the house where I lived – the Hotel Balboa.

American Bookmatch for Hotel Balboa
American Bookmatch for Hotel Balboa

 

I had to walk past this hotel every day on my way to the Institute where I was studying, and I started noticing and then collecting the matchboxes that the soldiers threw down on the ground when they had used all the matches. These boxes came from the supermarket inside the base which sold only American products.

Some Diamond Match Company bookmatches
Some Diamond Match Company bookmatches

 

This is how I started to acquire the wonderful series of “Circus Day”, “Homes of Great Americans”, “The Old West”, “American Folklore” and other examples from Diamond Match Company. Later, I naturally started collecting Spanish labels which became my specialism and passion, but always finding room for a few interesting items from other countries.

 

 

 

 

My book, Los Fabricantes de Cerillas
My book, Los Fabricantes de Cerillas

In 2018 I published “Los Fabricantes de Cerillas” a 2-volume illustrated book which describes the history of the Spanish Match Industry from 1834 to 1899 based on the archives of the Digital Newspaper Library of the National Library and the Historical Archive of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office.

At the moment I am preparing a Catalogue of the Manufacturers of Spanish matchboxes, although given the complexity of the subject and the difficulty of finding information about these manufacturers I realise that the Catalogue may never see the light of day.

 

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José Ventura García (Spain)

Exhibit : Unique 1936 matchbox from Spain

In 1968 while I was working in a jewellery shop in the Plaza de Chueca, Madrid, another apprentice who was there with me gave me a box of matches. It was “El Augusto”, a clown drawn only with geometric strokes by Cruz Novillo + Olmos. The box immediately caught my attention, and I decided there and then that I was going to collect them because I thought that no one else would collect them and that I was inventing a new hobby, and although it obviously wasn’t true that was how my collecting adventure began over 53 years ago.

Behind the Plaza de Chueca is Pelayo street where you could find a tobacconist’s kiosk, and on the outside of which was a vending machine which sold boxes of matches from Fósforos del Pirineo for 1 peseta each. Whenever I had any spare money I would buy boxes and quickly noticed that they all showed different characters, people and animals related to the circus, and I kept on buying them until I had collected all 20 different boxes in the Series. The tobacconist was still there in 2015, and although the vending machine is long gone I am lucky enough to now have one in my collection.

My first box (El Augusto)
My first box (El Augusto)
My first three Series : the Circus, Balloons and ABC animals, in their souvenir packaging 
My first three Series : the Circus, Balloons and ABC animals, in their souvenir packaging 
Fósforos del Pirineo vending machine
Fósforos del Pirineo vending machine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I now specialise in collecting Spanish matchboxes and studying the Spanish matchbox industry.

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Detlef Zschiegner (Germany)

Exhibit : Wildlife on matchbox labels

My name is Detlef Zschiegner, born 1956 in Altenburg (Thuringia), where I still live to this day. I have been collecting match labels and matchboxes since 1968, with a focus on the labels.

At the beginning of May 2021, the collection consisted of around 97,000 items, including around 5,000 book detonators and boxes and around 92,000 labels. The most intense period of my collecting activity was between 1968 and 1990, when I was a member of the AG-Phillumenie Altenburg and also took part in the annual exhibitions.

In the period from 1991 to 2016, I was only able to look after my collection very sporadically for professional reasons. Since 2017, more intensive collecting has been an integral part of my life again. In 2021 I was the only collector from Germany to take part in the first international online matchbox and match label exhibition, which was organized by the Bangladesh Matchbox Collector’s Club (BMCC) from January 1st to 15th, 2021. In July 2021 I took the opportunity to attend the Phillonex exhibition run by the Swiss Match Museum.

In addition to a large number of different national collections, the focus of my work as a collector is on my motif collections. These are:

  • Vehicles
  • Coats of arms and flags
  • Costumes
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Sports
  • Fire protection + accident prevention & traffic education & architecture

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