European match holders

Porcelain match holders made by Herend in Hungary, 50 x 40 x 18 mm

Exhibitor : Hans Everink

In general, match holders are metal boxes in which matches were stored, provided with an abrasive surface to light the matches. A match holder is also a matchbox in a slice or grip. As matchboxes were frequently used, the wooden boxes suffered so much damage that soon they couldn’t be used anymore for striking the matches. As a cure, the box was put into a slice. There are holders not only for matchboxes but also for matchcovers (folded cardboard covers with break-off matches provided with a striking place to light the matches).

History of the match holder

The history of the match holder starts in the 19th century. When matches were invented in 1830 people immediately tried to think of how to transport these “dangerous” things. The first match holders were produced as early as 1835 and were made of wood; later iron and other materials were used. The simple match holders were made for the common people. Only the wealthy could afford expensive holders (made of silver and richly ornamented).

Types of match holder

Many different types of match holder can be found, such as Vesta cases, 3-piece boxes, trick or puzzle boxes, the candle in a box, grips, slides, holders for bookmatches, stand-alone holders and wall-mounted holders.

Here are some of my favourite match holders from my collection. Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the match holders.

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Sir Adamjee – From a Match Trader to a Nation Builder

Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood (1880-1948). Photo credit : unknown author, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Exhibitor : Badrul Hisham Jaafar

This exhibit is dedicated to the match labels of a famous entrepreneur and industrialist who is one of the founding fathers of Pakistan: Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood (1880-1948).

Born in 1880 in Jetpur, Gujrat, British India of a Memon community, Sir Adamjee began his entrepreneurial venture very early in life when he was just a teenager. His real name is Adam Dawood Baig Mohammad. He was fondly called Adamjee by his mother where the suffix ‘jee’, sometimes spelled ‘ji’, denotes special affection in Gujarati family. He went to Burma (now Myanmar) in 1895 at a tender age of 15 to work as an apprentice. By the age of 18, he had begun operating his own business. In 1914, his company, Adamjee Dawood & Co was established and traded items such as rice, jute, and matches amongst others. In 1922 he built his own match factory in Rangoon which began match production by December of 1923.

This is a story of rags to riches, of mercantile to conglomerate, of a commoner to a national hero. Such a story deserves to be told and retold. As such, this exhibit intends to share part of his legacy by focusing on the match labels, a trade Sir Adamjee started off, amongst many of his joyous and arduous journey as an entrepreneur, a social visionary and philanthropist. Sir Adamjee was knighted in 1938 by the British Government due to his immense contribution to society such as his active involvement in flood relief activities and education related ventures amongst many others in British India.

The Trading Years, 1914 to 1924*

Imported brands of Adamjee’s matches from Japan.

Adamjee’s match factory

Adamjee’s match factory was reputed to be amongst the largest in Asia of its time, located in Pazundaung, Rangoon (Yangon) hired 1,400 employees mostly consist of Burmese women. His industrialization dream bears witness to a successful match manufacturing venture using German and Japan made machines. The business survived various episodes of hardship particularly the famous match trade war between Adamjee and the “match king” Ivar Kreuger of Swedish Match Company (SMC) who owned nearly 75 percent of world match trade at the time. It also survived the 1938 bloody riots of Burma and the 1942 Second World War. However, the factory was subsequently nationalized by the Burmese state in 1968.

The Manufacturing Years, 1923 to 1968*

Manufactured brands of Adamjee’s match labels from Burma (Myanmar). It was reported that Adamjee had over 2 dozen match label brand names manufactured out of his factory in Rangoon.

Please note that this is non-exhaustive of all brands traded and manufactured by Adamjee. It has taken me several years to accumulate these prized labels from all over the world and the hunt for other Adamjee’s match labels continues. Amongst those not available in this collection include Adamjee’s tiger, monkey, key, automobile, bullock cart brands and various varieties to name a few. 

These labels now bear witness to the legacy of a business conglomerate, the Adamjee Group and the man himself for his contribution in the early formative days of Pakistan as a country. A successful entrepreneur extraordinaire, Sir Adamjee is remembered as a person who helped fund the newly created Pakistan by providing “a blank cheque” secured by his personal assets during Pakistan’s critical formative years.

This is a tribute towards a personality who not only made a name in match trading and match manufacturing in Asia but also towards humanity, industralization and social development. Sir Adamjee, a commoner turned national hero born out of a match industry.

Notes & References:

* denotes estimated years.
All information are duly obtained from exhibitor’s personal reading of related information referred to and obtained from :
I) “Colonial Burma, history and phillumeny” by Andrew Selth, 24thMay, 2016 published in the New Mandala, (www.mandala.org)
ii) “The Merchant Knight – Adamjee Haji Dawood”, by Daleara Jamasji-Hirjikaka & Yasmin Qureshi, Adamjee Foundation, 2004.
iii) “Adamjee Haji Dawood” on wikipedia.com

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Badrul Hisham Jaafar (Malaysia)

Exhibit : The tigers of Malaya

I have been a collector for over 30 years. My early interest involves numismatic and philatelic items.

About 8 years ago, I started to pursue phillumeny interest in earnest. Why? As a collector, I was looking for tantalizing factors of something being interesting, teasingly challenging, valuable, historically beneficial perhaps or artistically profound, with the bottom line being simply: satisfying and fun. Phillumeny satisfies all those criteria.

My phillumeny collection is geographically focused towards anything Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia originated or related.

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Badrul Hisham Jaafar (Malaysia)

Exhibit : Sir Adamjee – From a Match Trader to a Nation Builder

I have been a collector for over 30 years. My early interest involves numismatic and philatelic items.

About 8 years ago, I started to pursue phillumeny interest in earnest. Why? As a collector, I was looking for tantalizing factors of something being interesting, teasingly challenging, valuable, historically beneficial perhaps or artistically profound, with the bottom line being simply: satisfying and fun. Phillumeny satisfies all those criteria.

My phillumeny collection is geographically focused towards anything Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia originated or related.

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Phil Stringer (UK)

Exhibits : to be decided 

In my childhood in the 1960’s I used to pick up interesting matchboxes for my cousin’s collection. At around ten years of age my eldest brother gave me his labels, about a hundred glued into a scrapbook, at that time I imagined it must have been the biggest collection in the country.

Fire Queen label, 53 x 34 mm
Fire Queen label, 53 x 34 mm

 

My cousin and myself were now in competition, if when cycling together a box was spotted we would fly off our bikes and a wrestling bundle would ensue.

The victor would retrieve his downturned prize to reveal a Fire Queen (the most common in our area).

 

Bryant & May Windproof matches, 53 x 36 x 16 mm
Bryant & May Windproof matches, 53 x 36 x 16 mm

Even as a child I was aware that family friends would reel in horror at the prospect of a showing of my “huge” collection. I’d entertain them with a B&M windproof match that wouldn’t blow out. Then I bought a full box of B&M Braided Cigar Lights; my interest for match oddities was born.

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José Ventura García (Spain)

Exhibit : Twenty Five years of Fosforera Española

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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Hans Everink (Netherlands)

Exhibit : European match holders

My name is Hans Everink, 60 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.

A display of match holders

 

After years of collecting everything about matches, I now only collect matchbox labels from everywhere. I also have an extensive collection of match holders and have my own website dedicated to the hobby.

 

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Fernán Pacheco (Costa Rica)

Exhibit : Argentinian Beauties

Born in San José, Costa Rica, in September 1964.  I started collecting matchboxes and labels in 2016.  I never collected anything in my life until in 2006 when I became “hooked” with revenue stamp collecting, a branch little known and even despised by traditional postal stamp collectors.  As a lawyer and notary I fell in love with those fiscal stamps that are stuck to documents.  Since then I have assembled a great collection from Costa Rica, exhibited internationally and written for multiple magazines, including for The Revenue Journal from The Revenue Society, of which I have been a member since 2008. 

Tax stamp and Costa Rica matchbox label, 35 x 50 mm
Tax stamp and Costa Rica matchbox label, 35 x 50 mm

When my collection from Costa Rica was almost complete, I became interested in tax stamps that do not adhere to documents but to objects, which are the rarest. These stamps are meant to be destroyed in the moment the bottle, cigarette pack, deck of playing cards or matchbox is opened, hence few survive. 

I liked how the stamps looked on the labels and in some time I discovered this nice and peculiar hobby.  

I quickly realized that it is impossible to collect “the whole world” so, in addition to the labels with tax stamps, I focused on Latin America countries, my favourites being Argentina, Cuba and Mexico.

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