Exhibitor : Rosemarie van der Plank
As a young schoolboy David van der Plank originally collected postage stamps and coins. During the Second World War his elder brother served in the RAF, and on one occasion when he came home on leave he brought with him some matchboxes for David.
The collecting of matchboxes and matchbox labels became his first love. One of the match boxes that really fascinated him was a box with the letters WIMCO India and he decided it could possibly mean the Western Indian Match Company. He wrote to the factory and expressed his interest in collecting matchbox labels and in their reply, they sent him samples of matchbox labels they produced. David’s business venture then began! He ordered labels in bulk from WIMCO paying for them by using International Money Orders. From them he made up packs of labels. His first customers were fellow schoolboys, one of whom was Peter Campion.
Three years after our marriage David and I moved to Cornwall, he went back to his original hobby which prompted us to form the Cornish Match Company. David always had a desire to go to India, not only visit WIMCO but to discover some of the smaller match factories. We were able to do this in the early 1970s.
Together we flew to Bombay where we had a warm welcome from the directors of WIMCO. After a few days we continued our journey and travelled by train to Sivakasi. It was an amazing experience! No white person had been there for ten years but on that visit and every subsequent visit we always were made very welcome and stayed in the homes of factory managers.
We soon discovered there were many other match factories in the surrounding area throughout Tamil Nadu, so we tried to visit as many of them as possible. The reception these factories gave us was amazing. They were very kind and gave us gifts, some of which are the advertisements that you see here. Each one has a great memory.
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