Exhibitor : Phil Stringer
In the past the habit of smoking was not a practice that was generally conducted indoors, smokers had to brave the elements, over the years there have been many types of windproof match designed to combat windy conditions. While the match companies provided chemical solutions to deal with this and other situations, the makers of match hardware were using their ingenuity to create designs intended specifically to help the windswept smoker.
The “Stay-lit” matchbox holder employed a mechanical system that held a match clamped within the case, when the internal slide was drawn out [1a] the match would be angled down to engage the striker of the small size box held within, the motion of the box’s striker being drawn along the match head would ignite it and allow a protected flame to emerge from the eight holes located above.
The “Anti-Storm Pocket-Slide” was designed to take a regular sized matchbox, an ingenious design but the execution of lighting a cigarette was a rather convoluted process.
First an inner slide that held the matchbox was drawn out sideways to allow the drawer of the matchbox to be opened and a match retrieved [2b].
With the box now safely closed the match would be inserted into a hole on the side of the case which had a sliding mechanism running lengthways and allowed the match to be struck on the box striker.
With the flame protected from wind and rain the cigarette could be inserted through the hole and ignited. When fully closed up the drawer of the match box was secured and could not come open [2a]. The design was patented in 1901 by Robert Schules and C Fladerer from Bohemia (Czechoslovakia).
The Edward VII 7th coronation tin initially looks like a regular matchbox slide but is technically a vesta case as it holds the matches within its own metal drawer and has a ribbed surface on one side of the tin for striking.
When it was given to me it was described as a trick box however named on the drawer as “The Surelight” [3a] and having no obvious trick function I believe it to be another piece designed to combat windy conditions. The outer case is a typical slide with small folds over one end so that the drawer can only open in one direction.
[3b] The drawer is a double skinned affair the outer section having a cut out that allows the inner drawer to be pushed shut protecting the unused matches, this leaves the outer section open providing a wind shield for the ignited match which would be placed in the slot at the end of the drawer.
I wonder if the Bryant & May matchbox covers made for the soldiers in the first world war might have been used by the troops in the same manner, they may have even hid the flame from night time snipers – three cigarettes on a match anyone?
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