Early French matchboxes

Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, ca. 1875
Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, ca. 1875

Exhibitor : Stephane Pinaud

Click here for French language version

 

My exhibit displays French matchboxes from the 19th Century and early 20th Century, including some very beautiful and intricate boxes that have survived intact to this day.  The French match industry was one of the earliest in the world, starting around 1832. The well-known match factories of Caussemille Jne & Cie and Roche & Cie were among the world’s largest and well developed, employing exceptional graphic designers and operating extensive printing facilities. My exhibit focusses on some of the lesser known manufacturers and rarer boxes. 

Romain Mallet
Romain Mallet

 

 

These small boxes are from the factory of Romain Mallet in Bordeaux. They date from around 1870 and measure 49 x 28 x 8 mm. Mallet produced many of these small boxes containing candle matches and mainly illustrated with female nudes. 

 

Type 11D boxes, Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, 58 x 41 x 13 mm
Type 11D boxes, Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, 58 x 41 x 13 mm

 

After the establishment of the monopoly in France in 1872 and the creation of the “Compagnie Générale des allumettes Chimiques“, the first boxes were based on Caussemille designs. This is the case for type 11D boxes, shown on the right, which date from around 1875. Boxes in the first two rows use patterns from Caussemille. On the top of the first box we can see the tax stamp with value 5c. The company operated from 1873 to 1885.

Type 11D boxes were sold until the early 1940s., by which time the matches had become too expensive. The beauty of the boxes had continuously decreased, and the last illustrations were in black and white.

Large boxes, 117 x 52 x 28 mm
Large boxes, 117 x 52 x 28 mm

 

Large boxes of 500 wax matches from Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, which changed its name to  Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques pour la France et l’étranger in 1885 and closed in 1889. We can easily imagine that the sales volume of these boxes was low.

 

Tisons boxes, 1887 - 1910, most 50 x 37 x 21 mm
Tisons boxes, 1887 – 1910, most 50 x 37 x 21 mm

 

Tisons matches were found in several countries including Sweden and Great Britain. The first Tisons were imported from Sweden in the mid-1880s before being manufactured in France from 1887 to around 1940. The size of the matches, the contents of the boxes and the selling prices evolved over time and allow the boxes to be dated. More Tisons boxes are shown in the gallery below, click on an image to enlarge it.

Advertising boxes, 1920s, 62 x 35 x 15 mm
Advertising boxes, 1920s, 62 x 35 x 15 mm

 

In the early 20th Century it became common to use matchbox labels for advertising. Match advertising in France began in 1924. These are some rare advertising boxes from the late 1920s, all for Cigarette brands except the very rare box “Engagez vous dans la marine”. The gallery below includes some larger advertising boxes (100 matches) from the 1940s which are also rare, click on an image to enlarge it.

 

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