James Oxley-Brennan (UK)

Exhibit : Swan Vestas

New Forest box label, 35 x 50 mm
New Forest box label, 35 x 50 mm

My collection began in the early 1950’s with New Forest, a brand made in Belgium.

We were living on the Hampshire/Dorset border, and my mother liked this box, with its label showing a deer and a sylvan background.

It was not long before she found another attractive box, and then another …..

We moved to Norfolk in 1955, when I was seven, and while at the village school I came across a shoebox full of empty matchboxes, most of which were new to me.

“Could I please have a few for my collection”, I asked.

Alpha box label, artb, 56 x 111 mm
Alpha box label, artb, 56 x 111 mm

They let me have some, and one which I remember well was “Alpha” from United Match Industries.


Norwich club label, 1983
Norwich club label, 1983

In the late 1960’s I visited an exhibition staged by the Norwich Phillumenists. This was my first experience of a group of like-minded enthusiasts, and I learnt what to do and what not to do – “never show a matchbox a pair of scissors” was the sound advice of Mrs Peggy Thompson. With her husband Fred and son Stephen she was the mainstay of the club.

In October 1976 I joined the BML&BS and was enrolled by John Luker. My collection expanded, to take in hardware and ephemera, all helping to complete the picture. In June 1989 I became the Honorary Librarian, and am very happy to hold this post.

Today I concentrate on British material, and the former British brands from Republic Technologies UK, the Society’s Patron, especially Swan Vestas. I have never tried to make the biggest collection, preferring quality to quantity, deriving much enjoyment from my collection.

Although I don’t have a computer I am pleased to have an Exhibit in our first On-line Exhibition, an important milestone for the Society.

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