Keith Kendall (UK)

Exhibit : Joe Camel R.I.P.

I started collecting when in the cubs as part of a collector’s badge, my uncle, Gilbert Kendall gave me some of his duplicates and that started me off around 1969. I discovered the B.M.L. & B.S. in the 1970’s and joined in October 1977, when still living with my parents. When I moved to London, I attended my first meeting at the CEGB building near St. Paul’s around 1979.

My collection has always been a general one, I tend to specialize in Food Companies/Hotels/Tobacco related.

After a 15-year break, I have recently gone back to my collection and am beginning to try and get it organized.

This is my first attempt at an exhibit, apart from one I did when my uncle ran a local exhibition in Offley, Herts for a local hospice. Then I exhibited some old Russian labels I acquired when exchanging with a Russian collector in St. Petersburg.

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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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Joel Viana de Lemos (Portugal)

Exhibit : Italian imports to Portugal 19th century

I was born in 1955 and started collecting matchbox labels and matchbooks when I was about 4 years old. Knowing about my interest in the hobby some of the phillumenists in the city of Porto encouraged me with some interesting offers. The publication in 1962 of the first catalogue of matchbox labels in Portugal allowed me to properly organize my collection. The 2nd edition of the catalogue published in 1965 and the monthly edition of the magazine “Filumenismo” gave a great boost to my development as a phillumenist. 

I went on to specialise in all the material related to Portugal or that circulated in the Portuguese market and its colonies, namely Macau. My  collection of Italian matchboxes/panels that circulated in Portugal in the 19th Century is very significant and forms the basis of my Exhibit.

I am a founding partner of the APF – “Associação Portuguesa de Filumenismo” (founded in 1972), and currently its President.

I have published the following phillumenistic works, which can be purchased from APF :

  • Catalogue of Portuguese Matchbox Labels. Edition 1992 (co-author, text in Portuguese):
  • Catalogue of Matchbox Labels – Companhia Portugueza de Phosphoros – Series – 1895-1926. 1st edition 2003; 2nd edition 2008; 3rd edition 2020
  • Catalogue of Matchbox Labels – Portugal – XIX century. 1st edition 2011; 2nd edition 2014; under publication 3rd edition
  • Catalogue of Italian Matchboxes imported by Portugal – XIX century. 1st edition 2013; under publication 2nd edition
  • Addendum to the Catalogue of Matchbox Labels – Macau – 2016 edition (co-author, text in Portuguese)
  • Advertising Skillets and Bookmatches List – Macau – 2016 (co-author) (texts in Portuguese)

I also have some phillumenistic works in development :

  • Catalogue of Matchboxes – XIX century – Portuguese factories manufacture and Italian matchboxes imported by Portugal
  • Phillumeny records – Matchbox labels produced abroad to Portuguese speaking territories
  • Phillumeny records – Postcards in Phillumeny
  • Phillumeny records – Portuguese Phillumeny Exhibitions
  • Portuguese matchbox holders (grips and slides) records

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Jim Taylor (UK)

Me and an Exhibit, 1995
Me and an Exhibit, 1995

Exhibit : Why I exhibit

I met my friend Charles Chappell in January 1973 who got me interested in the hobby, and I joined the British Matchbox Label and Booklet Society at the Bonnington Hotel in London.

Since joining the Society I have done many matchbox memorabilia exhibitions, including one at the Mars Master Foods factory in 2009 where they were celebrating 40 years in Kings Lynn. At the Great Yarmouth Phillumeny Show I won the Gold and Silver awards, and I like to use my hobby to raise funds for Charities. 

Foreign Made and Three box labels
Foreign Made and Three box labels

I collect matchboxes from all over the world, specialising in “Foreign Made” and “Threes“. I collect boxes and labels including dozen and gross packets, tens and 100 wrapper labels, and have accumulated over 36,000 items so far.

April 2016
April 2016

I really enjoy being a member of the Society. After Mrs Irene Harris died I continued her work of listing the Latest Issues in the Match Label News to help other collectors, showing what is new in the UK and other countries of the world, and I spent many hours walking to find these boxes and labels in the shops. In 2016 I was thrilled to be awarded the Tony Gallaher Memorial Award for these articles.

My passion is telling other people about my hobby, and I love showing my collection at Exhibitions. I have also done 34 talks on the hobby, and have appeared on Radio Norfolk on three sperate occasions over the years.

Although I don’t own a computer I am delighted to be part of the Society’s first On-line Exhibition.

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Jerry Bell (Australia)

Exhibits : Happy 70th birthday Miss RedheadStori Belong PNG MacisTōkaidō Road

I started collecting matchcovers in England in 1948, with the purchase, for the princely sum of 15 shillings, of a collection made in India pre-1914, mainly of Swedish and Austrian labels. I was attracted by the outstanding artwork of many of the labels, and I still have all these labels in my collection, plus over 100,000 more.

I am fortunate that my work took me all over the world, and I now live in Melbourne, Australia.

"Average Contents 60" published in 2005
“Average Contents 60” published in 2005

I have been a member of the BML&BS for almost 70 years, and the Australian Society for over 40. I have published the history of the Australian match industry, “Lighting Up Australia,” and two catalogues of former imports into Australia.

My book “Average Contents 60” is available from the Society Bookshop.

I also edited the Australian club magazine, the Observer, for 10 years, and am a frequent contributor to this and the British Match Label News.


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Jesús María Bollo García (Spain)

Exhibit : Murder on Fuencarral street

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


his 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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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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Ian Macilwain (UK)

Exhibit : Mr Perriman – a memory

Scottish Bluebell label 50 x 112 mm, ca. 1961
Scottish Bluebell label 50 x 112 mm, ca. 1961

I was propelled into collecting labels at the age of 12 when, leaning over a fence waiting for the school bus I set eyes on a box of Scottish Bluebell which attracted my attention (I was in Hampshire and this was a rare label to me probably dropped by a soldier, as it was an Army camp). My friend who was with me wanted it for his collection but I decided somewhat selfishly that it would make a good start to mine !!

I joined the BML&BS in 1970 and was a member for ten years, lapsing when I had a wife and children. I specialised in Eastern Europe and had many collector pen pals in The DDR, Czechoslovakia and Poland.

The hobby has never lost its allure and now that I am retired I am revisiting the fantastic archive which the collection had become. Every label carries a story and is like a time capsule to my childhood years.

Maybe with advancing years I will re-find the fascination that I used to have for this unusual hobby. Somewhat ironically I have lived in Scotland for half my life surrounded by more Scottish Bluebells than I would care to count.

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Hans Everink (Netherlands)

Exhibit : Same label, different words

My name is Hans Everink, 59 years old and I live in the Netherlands.

My passion for matchbox labels started when I was a little boy from 10 years old. At that time I also collected stamps, cigarbands and many other items which you could collect for free. But after some years I stopped with a lot of these items and focused on collecting matchbox labels, matchboxes and matchcovers from all over the world.

When I became older I also started to visit general collector fairs and specialist collector fairs for meeting other collectors with the same hobby. I exchanged a lot with collectors in the Netherlands and also with foreign collectors by post and at international fairs, like Belgium or Germany.

After years of collecting everything about matches, I now only collect matchbox labels from everywhere.

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Gísli Jóhann Sigurðsson (Iceland)

Exhibit : The Blue Lagoon

Land of ice and fire – how I started collecting matchbox labels

When I started collecting matchboxes in 1962 or 1963 (10 – 11 years old) it was very common for boys in Siglufjörður to do so. Siglufjörður is a small town in northern Iceland that is surrounded by high mountains and in those years was only open to cars due to snow for about 4 months of the year. Other transport was by sea twice a week.

During the summer, a lot of life moved into the town because ships came there from Europe for the herring as well as other people from other parts of Iceland to work with the herring. The harbours were not fenced off and closed as they are today and we went on board every single ship that came to get matchboxes in exchange. I usually went with a few packets and offered an exchange, but usually opened the packages and exchanged 1 for 1 box.

Most of the boys kept their collection in boxes from biscuits or shoeboxes, and for me it was 2 or 3 drawers in a chest of drawers. The biscuit boxes and shoe boxes then often end up in the attic. When I got a little collection started my father saw that I was very interested in this. He was a fisherman on herring boats and trawlers, he started collecting with me and was soon in touch with a Danish woman who was a collector, he read an article she had written in a Danish book called Hvem Hvad Hvor. From her he obtained information about the BML & BS which we joined. When I was 19 years old, I moved to Reykjavík and set aside the collection for many years.

From time to time I flipped through the album collection when I came to visit my family home.  About 20 years ago my father called me and said that now I had to come and take the collection, because he was starting to lose so much sight that he could not continue anymore. He wanted me to have the collection and take care of it but he was going to view the collection from time to time in a similar way as I had done. So I drove north with a trailer on the back of our car and picked it up. The collection is now 155 books of labels.

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