Phil Stringer (UK)

Exhibit : Two for the price of one 

Collecting for me is not something I choose to do it’s a compulsion, there are many topics that I find irresistibly interesting, over the years I’ve amassed collections from an eclectic range of subjects including postage stamps, revenue stamps, fiscal documents, embossed crests and monograms, post cards, cigarette cards, beer mats, dice, coins, bank notes, bullets, Magazine of Art Annuals, Majolica green leaf plates, Portmerian Totem ware, Irish wade ceramics, Holkam Pottery mugs, custard cups, bottles, fossils, rocks and crystals, shells, exotic seed heads, taxidermy, carved ebony elephants, Japanese lacquer ware, plus many sundry items that draw my attention but are insufficient in number to be described as collections.

Bryant & May matchbox dispensers
Some curious striking tubes



Top of the list as my main and most extensive collectable interest is matchbox labels and other match related items especially the obscure and unusual.


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José Ventura García (Spain)

Exhibit : 25 years of Fosforera Española, 150 years of matches

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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25 years of Fosforera Española, 150 years of matches

The special presentation box celebrating 25 years of FESA, 380 x 280 x 40 mm

Exhibitor : José Ventura García

Click here for Spanish language version


1981 was a very important year for Fosforera Española (FESA) because they celebrated 25 years of independent production of matchboxes in Spain after 65 years of state controlled manufacture. Also, it represented 150 years since the first matches appeared in Spain.

FESA decided to commemorate this milestone in two ways :

  • by commissioning a book illustrating the extensive Spanish match industry from 1836 to the present day entitled “Siglo y medio de Fósforos” (a century and a half of matches)
  • by issuing a special presentation box containing more than 30 matchboxes with a special logo on their backs
The book “Siglo y medio de Fósforos”

150 years of matches in Spain

The first matches in Spain appeared in 1836 when Don Pedro González began making and selling matches from his factory in Barcelona. This marked the start of a great expansion of the industry, and more than 60 factories have been identified before 1892 (e.g. Lasa, Garay, Gisbert, Zaragüeta, Jauregi, etc).

In 1892 the Spanish Government needed to raise funds and decided to nationalise the match industry by passing a law on 30th June 1892 creating a state controlled monopoly. This monopoly lasted until 1956 when the Government decided to place the industry back into private ownership.

Fosforera Española was formed in 1956 by D. Ildefoso Fierro and during the next 25 years they produced many attractive series of boxes and bookmatches with illustrations by well known artists which were very successful amongst the general public.

In 1992 ownership of the industry was transferred to Swedish Match, and in 2005 the last factory operating in Spain, Alfara del Patriarca in Valencia, closed its doors for the last time

Christmas presentation box from 1972, Goya

Christmas presentation boxes

Over the years FESA produced 20 presentation boxes containing matchboxes dedicated to famous painters. These were given as gifts to members of the company administration, to local personalities, in Madrid to politicians and members of the Fierro family, and were always accompanied with a Christmas Card.

Between 500 and 1000 of these presentation boxes were made each year and there were always a few items left over which were kept for a few years.

The matchboxes themselves were made in four different factories in Spain according to their size. The presentation boxes were constructed in Madrid in the early years and later in Tarazona and Valencia.

All of the presentation boxes are beautiful and should be considered as authentic works of art. Because so few were made they are now very rare.

Lid of the 25 year anniversary presentation box

Special 25 year anniversary presentation box

The presentation box that FESA made for their 25 year anniversary is really distinctive. It contains more than 30 boxes that are reproductions of some of the most well-known series, and one with a special logo. Each box shows the original year that the series was issued.

The special logo

The matchboxes are of different sizes, including Labor No. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 32, 33. In the same way as the Christmas presentation boxes, the matchboxes were made in different factories according to their size (Tarazona made Labor 1, 2 and 7, Valencia 6, 16 (bookmatches), 32 and 33, Carabanchel or Vallverde 4 and 21).

Today you can still find empty or full presentation boxes, and individual boxes complete or as skillets, and they are always a joy to behold.

The gallery below shows some of the boxes from the 25 year anniversary. Click on an image to enlarge it and see the boxes. 

In conclusion, we can see that the year 1981 was an important one for Fosforera Española, and it offers us phillumenists a good opportunity to fondly remember those days when we look at the book and the beautiful boxes.

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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.

Some famous imported match labels of “Elephant & Cock” from Sweden by Paterson Simons & Co Ltd for use in Straits Settlements ( Straits) and Federated Malay States ( FMS) which are now Singapore and part of Peninsular Malaysia



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


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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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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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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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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 1920 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, industrialization and social development. Sir Adamjee, a commoner turned national hero born out of a match industry.

Notes & References:

* denotes estimated years.
All information is 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, (
ii) “The Merchant Knight – Adamjee Haji Dawood”, by Daleara Jamasji-Hirjikaka & Yasmin Qureshi, Adamjee Foundation, 2004.
iii) “Adamjee Haji Dawood” on

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Chris Hime (Australia)

Exhibit : Holbrook bookmatches, Australia

I live in the city of Adelaide in South Australia and have been collecting now for over 40 years. It started for me when I would walk to primary school and would see any discarded matchboxes on the street. When my brother was hospitalized for asthma as a child my parents encouraged him to collect matchbox labels as well to pass the time. 

My interest blossomed whereas my brother lost interest and I was also given my uncle’s collection which helped me with some older labels. My parents owning a delicatessen gave me an opportunity to get new additions plus my uncle in his travels would bring home matchboxes as well.

I joined the Australian Match Cover Collectors Society in 1982 after placing a question to the “What’s Your Problem” section of the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper and from there I gained a lot of knowledge and expanded my collection. In 2014 I was awarded Life Membership of the Society.

Two of my grips
Two of my grips

Over the years I have diversified into advertising, match tins, and match strikers of which I have around 400. I also collect grips and have around 850 of them. I collect mainly from Australia, Great Britain, USA, Canada, Holland, New Zealand and Sweden. One of my recent interests is bookmatch and slimline series which are the subject of last year’s Exhibit.

In recent times with the pandemic, having a hobby has been a godsend. I hope you enjoy what I do and hope you enjoy my Exhibit.

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Holbrook bookmatches, Australia

Label is from a salesman’s sample catalogue which shows Holbrook being located at 53 – 55 George Street, Sydney

Exhibitor : Chris Hime

Holbrook was an importer of bookmatches into Australia. The bookmatches came from the Monarch Match Company of San Jose, California. Most of the booklets made were contents 20 with only a few contents 30 or 40 and the samples in the salesman’s catalogue show ‘Made in U.S.A’ and feature American businesses.

The manumark was Holbrook, Sydney – 26 2841 Contents 20 made in U.S.A. There is also a manumark Holbrook Match – 280 Pitt – Sydney Contents 20 – Made in U.S.A. According to an article in the ‘Observer’ they were operating from this address in 1969.

Ken Holbrook, manager, was a financial member of the now defunct Sydney Phillumenists Club and attended meetings with his wife Fran.

The range of bookmatches offered was:

  • ‘Business Builder’ comprised of four colours – green, blue, red and black with silver print.
  • ‘Colorama’ comprised of ten colours – pink, beige, blue, orange, green, mauve, red, teal, yellow and old gold with black print.
  • ‘Tenorama’ comprised of the same ten colours as above but embossed with silver ink.
  • Five Glamour Girls, Safety Series, Americana Scenic Art, Illustro-Ad and Hillbillys were also offered along with metallic in silver, red, gold, bronze and green.

Here are some Holbrook bookmatches from my collection, click on an image below to enlarge it and see the bookmatches.

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Bell and Black Hardware

Two early 1850s tins for Gas Camphorated Congreve Lights, 56 x 30 x 31 mm & 62 x 34 x 39 mm

Exhibitor : David Figg

Match hardware from Bell & Black, London is probably only second in terms of variety behind Bryant & May. They come in all shapes and sizes from the very tiny to the quite large. 

Samuel Alexander Bell, one of the pioneers of the English match industry, established himself in 1839 however he did not appear in the London Directory until the 1848 issue when the business was styled Samuel Alexander Bell & Company and was trading at 15 Bow Lane, Cheapside, London and also at Stratford.

During the following year, Bell took John Black into partnership with him under the name of Bell & Black. This association of names was to last until 1885, however Black, still a partner in 1859, had left by 1861 when Bell was the sole partner. The works were situated on the south side of High Street Stratford, near Bow Bridge.

In 1852 they employed 300 hands, half of them inside the factory, the others being “out workers” who collected materials from the factory and took them home, returning the finished articles when ready, on a piece-work basis, a custom of the time.

Four early small tins circa 1860s showing “go to bed” provision at top right. Sizes 47 x 36 x 12mm, 47 x 36 x 20mm, 49 x 49 x 22mm & 49 x 38 x 22mm

In 1868, letters patent were granted to Samuel Alexander Bell. Sometime between 1868 and 1876, Bell also leaves the business as in this latter year, a joint stock company Bell & Black Limited (No. 10582) was floated to take over the business.  The managing Director was William Bridges Adams, an engineer well known in connection with local enterprises.

Difficult times were approaching. Nearly fifty years earlier the chemists had abandoned the hazardous manufacture of matches in favour of the new factories from which they were able to buy matches cheaper than they themselves could make them. Now it was the factories who were facing a crisis. A factory equipped with the latest machinery could increase its output and reduce costs. Fewer factories would be needed, though new capital would have to be sunk into those still operating.

Such conditions demanded a pooling of interests by those wishing to survive, the scrapping of buildings not suitable for conversion to the new order and the unstinted use of new capital in purchasing the best machinery the market could provide.

In 1881, the businesses of John Hynam and The London Match Company were absorbed as a preliminary to a major grouping carried out in the same year by the merging of four large concerns.

  1. Dixson Son & Evans of Manchester
  2. John Jex Long of Glasgow
  3. Bell & Black Limited of London, and
  4. John Bellerby & Son Ltd of York.

The new company created for this purpose was called The Bell & Black Match Company Limited (No. 15588). The registered office was at High Street, Stratford until 1882, when it was removed to 147 Cannon Street, London.

In 1884 the Stratford Works was still in use, as also were addresses at 79 High Street, Stratford and Marshgate Lane, Stratford. In March 1885, the registered office was moved to 101 Leadenhall Street, London. A month later the company was absorbed by Bryant & May Limited.

Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the Bell and Black item.

Bibliography – R. Holton’s “The Matchbox Label” Vol 2 No 14 March 1960

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Children playing games

Children on a swing. Trademark registration of this label filed to Japan Patent Office by Mr. Mokichi Iwaki based in Osaka (1915), 50 x 32 mm

Exhibitor Takeshi Yokomizo

Click here for Japanese language version


The Japanese match industry was one of the main industries underpinning the economic development of Japan after the country established itself as a modern nation in Meiji era (1868 – 1912). The match industry peaked its activities in the early 20th century. During the peak-time (1907 – 1919), 80% of its production was for export and shipped mainly to China, Hong Kong and India. 5% of its export volume was also shipped to Western countries such as the US and Australia.

  • The label designs for the biggest importer – China – featured auspicious motifs such as dragons, kilins (Chinese unicorns), deer, monkeys, bats, peaches and peonies, as well as children and elders often depicting old fables.
  • Elephants and Hindu gods were popular designs for India. The label designs for export matches were diverse and playful as it was common to tailor the design to the tastes and likes of each destination.

The trade was carried out by Qing (Chinese) merchants who were based in the Japanese exit port of Kobe. Most Japanese manufacturers were small businesses who received financing from Qing merchants so we can speculate that they instructed Japanese manufacturers to make specific designs suitable for their clients. At that time, manufacturers were able to meet elaborate design orders as they had skilled wood engravers who previously produced detailed news-sheets and Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) but had lost jobs due to the emergence of letterpress printing.

Skipping rope. Manufactured by Ryota Kon-su. Other details unknown, 91 x 70 mm

Labels depicting children playing games

The images here are labels featuring children playing games made during the peak-time of export (1907 – 1919). By the look of the clothing, some of them were possibly aimed at exporting to Western countries, and others were to China and India. Regardless of its origins and prevalence, many children’s games were similar beyond cultures and regions, as we find games and play depicted that is common across the world.

These labels might have drawn a smile from an adult while striking a match and remembering his/her childhood. I would like to think of these designs as a kind of modern version of auspicious motifs bringing people some good omen.

Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the matchbox label.

Here are a few notes about some of the games that the Japanese children played :

  • Hoop Rolling : Japanese hoop rolling was said to have started from rolling a hoop taken out from a wooden basin. From Meiji era onwards, bicycle rims were commonly used.
  • Paddling pool : during Meiji era (1868 – 1912) and Taisho era (1912 – 1926), it was a common custom in summer for people to place a large flat basin in the garden and cool-off by splashing water using a pail. It was also a great summer fun for children.
  • Goldfish fishing originated in China and became a popular game often seen in festival stalls in summer. Nowadays, a player uses a paper scooper to catch a goldfish until the scooper breaks.
  • Flying kites became popular during Edo era (1603 – 1867) and have been enjoyed ever since.
  • Sumo is a Japanese national sport. Two wrestlers fight with bare hands in a circular ring and try to push his opponent out from the ring or topple him to the ground. The printed text “TATA & SONS/BOMBAY” was probably for the commemoration of  the regular shipping lane between Japan and Mumbai opened jointly by Japanese NYK Line and Indian Tata Group in 1893. It made exporting large quantity of matches to India possible.

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Matchorama Aristocrat, by Universal Match

Universal Match Corporation logo

Exhibitor : Derek Judd

Universal Match was founded in 1925 by A H and S M Rosenberg.  The family had a number of years’ worth of match manufacturing before embarking on this adventure of their own. 

Over the following years Universal Match absorbed many different match companies by mergers and takeovers.  Universal changed its name in 1966 to UMC Industries Inc as they had become a very successful company.

In 1981 the company was sold to Swedish Match AB which led to the renaming of the business to Universal Match Corp.  Production centres for Universal were nationwide as can be seen by the examples in the gallery below. 

Universal had numerous trademarks/types (37) in their stable of bookmatches.  Matchorama is listed as colour photo-type (in 1956).

The Matchorama Aristocrats bookmatches were produced publicising very diverse topics. In the US this size of matchbook is commonly known as a “30 strike match cover” which would equate to the major size in the UK. 

The gallery below has some of my favourite examples which I hope you find of interest. Those shown are all front strikers (FS) which are an earlier style, but later styles changed to having a back striker (BS). Further information and articles etc can be found on a Google search if required.

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Pauline Entwisle (UK)

Exhibit : Bookmatches used in the world of advertising

My interest in matchbox labels began when I was eight or nine years old. My brother, aged fourteen, had a small collection of match box labels in a tin box, hidden in his cupboard. I ‘acquired the tin box’ and became a phillumenist !!

My collection grew over the years, many of the boxes were given to me by friends but mostly, I collected them from London pavements, from buses and trains and occasionally from bric-a-brac shops.

However, as I got older, although I always kept collecting, the collection was neglected and was stored away in bags, boxes and tins, they were everywhere.

I am now 89 and the match box labels are receiving attention at last.

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Bookmatches used in the world of advertising

Commonwealth Emblem label

Exhibitor : Pauline Entwisle

My Interest in matchboxes began when I was about 5 years old. My Grandad, a prolific pipe smoker, used a lot of matches. He saved the boxes for me, and with few other toys these became a favourite plaything.

I became interested in the labels, which were mostly J John Masters Army and Navy. This collection grew with a complete set of ‘Commonwealth Emblems’.

Over the years, my greatest enjoyment was in finding discarded boxes on the pavement or on the London underground railway stations, at street markets, junk shops and given to me by friends, and I received the greatest pleasure when completing a set of labels.

Later friends and family collected for me. I still have an incomplete set of Belgian Clock labels which I would love to add to.


Four advertising bookmatches from around the world, mid 20th Century

Advertising using bookmatches

My exhibit for this year’s online exhibition is neither particularly beautiful nor outstanding but I think of interest and intriguing. I have selected a number of bookmatches that illustrate the use of matches in the world of advertising, ranging from the straight forward ‘PFISTERER’S incorporated, recommends PORTIS HATS’ , Your Hat is Important, to a bookmatch promoting a fund raising campaign for DR BARNARDO’s Homes, ‘7000 children supported’ and matches produced for a single event  ‘Elect NICK NICHOLSON for ERIE COUNTY SHERIFF.


Click on an image in the gallery below to enlarge it and see the bookmatch.

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Matchboxes from Bangladesh

Nirapod Deshlai, 1980s

Exhibitor : Shakil Huq

Here I am showing some rare matchboxes of Bangladesh, which are absolutely hard to find in Bangladesh. All the matchboxes are wooden.

At one time there were many match factories in Bangladesh from where many colourful matches were made. In my childhood I saw those colourful matches. Unfortunately I didn’t collect matches back then. Very sorry now. As far as I know there were no significant matchbox collectors in Bangladesh in the past. Due to which matchbox never gained popularity and is neglected in this country. 

Dada Match Factory

But a very beautiful match has been created in this country. Dada Match Factory was one of the many match factories in Bangladesh, and was established at the Rupsha industrial area in the port city of Khulna in 1956, next to the Rupsha river.  Dada Match even had a partnership with the world famous Swedish Match. It shut down in 2010 after being hit by a serious financial crisis. The factory used 400 permanent and 1,000 part-time workers who were not paid when the factory closed. Boxes from Dada are very hard to find.

Dhaka Match Factory

The Dhaka Match Factory was a subsidiary of Dada, and was located in the capital city of Dhaka. I am lucky to have some boxes from Dhaka in my collection.

Click on an image below to enlarge it and see some rare matchboxes from Dhaka Match and other Bangladesh manufacturers, together with some pictures of the now derelict Dada Match factory.

Now there are only two match factories operating in Bangladesh but year after year they produce matches of the same design with no variety. It can be said that the use of matches is decreasing in Bangladesh now. Most people use lighters.

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Shakil Huq (Bangladesh)

Exhibit : Matchboxes from Bangladesh

Hello, This is Shakil Huq from Bangladesh. I am a matchbox collector and I have been collecting for a decade. 

I’m a very passionate matchbox collector. I can’t think of a day without a matchbox. I design matchboxes as well, and have designed more than five hundred matchboxes to date. 

I have my own Blog and YouTube channel about matchbox collecting, and I have also been president of the Bangladesh Matchbox Collectors Club since 2016.

I hope you like my exhibit. Thank you. 

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Cats and Dogs

A cat matchbox label and a Dog matchbox

Exhibitor : Holly Harris

I am 15 and have been collecting domesticated cat and dog match material for quite a few years. Thank you for looking at my exhibit. I have enjoyed doing some research and sharing some of my collection with you. 


The domestic cat (Felis Catus) can either be a house cat, a farm cat or a feral cat; the latter ranges freely and avoids human contact. Domestic cats are valued by humans for companionship and therapy

  • The global cat population is estimated at circa 400 million and includes all feral cats, strays, and pets. Based on 2012 data there were around 95.6 million domestic cats in America, 66.5 million in the European Union (with 18m in Russia, 11.4m in France and 8.5 million in the UK). 
  • Other statistics from 2006 show China with the second largest cat population in their homes at 53.1 million. Brazil is the country from South America with the largest cat population being at 12.5 million and Japan has 7.3 million cats living with humans.
Chinese labels with cats



On the left is my favourite set of labels, 10 very cute playful looking cats from China. The decorative diagonal corner hinges give the impression that the labels are not complete, but they are.

Set of 18 cat labels from Cornish Match Company, average 48 sticks



I have three different versions of the set on the right. Two sets were made in Finland for the Cornish Match Company, England. One set Average Contents 45 sticks and the other 48 sticks, and a third set again made in Finland exclusively for the Duchy Match Co (again 48 sticks).




The dog (Canis Familiaris) is a domesticated descendant of the wolf. The dog was the first species to be domesticated, by hunter–gatherers over 15,000 years ago, before the development of agriculture. 

The dog has been selectively bred over millennia for various behaviours, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes. Dog breeds vary widely in shape, size, and colour. They perform many roles for humans, such as huntingherdingpulling loadsprotectionassisting police and the militarycompanionshiptherapy, and aiding disabled people.

Over the millennia, dogs became uniquely adapted to human behaviour, and the human-canine bond has been a topic of frequent study. This influence on human society has led to the nickname of “man’s best friend“.

Cellophaned presentation pack of matchboxes depicting dogs

On the right is a cellophaned Spanish pack of Dog match boxes produced by Fosforera Española. Depicting the fastest dog breed top right (the greyhound). There are 40 different dogs in the full set which was first issued in 1960.

  • Over 470 million dogs are kept as pets around the world. The fastest growing dog population in the world can be found in India. The USA is number one for Both Dogs and Cat ownership. Brazil is number 2 for Dogs, number 4 for Cats. The growing middle class in Brazil most likely contributes to the exploding popularity of pet ownership in recent decades. China is number 3 for Dogs and number 2 for Cats. The pet industry in China has grown a whopping 2000% in the past decade.
  • Interesting fact France has 17 dogs per 100 people, one of the highest ratios in the world, and a dog population of about 7.4 million. 40% of the French people claim to love their dogs like human family members
  • There are many dog breeds, unknown in number due to cross breeds, leading to a massive range of large and small.
  • An Old English mastiff called Zorba weighed in at a record breaking massive 343 lbs and length of 8ft 3inches nose to tail. The tallest dog ever recorded was a Great Dane at a height of 44 inches from the ground to the withers. The fastest dog of course is the Greyhound with a top speed of 45 mph
  • The Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed in the world, weighing between 4 to 6 pounds with a height of between 6 to 10 inches.

Below are 3 label sets from the former country of Yugoslavia on different coloured paper (green, pink and yellow) and I also have brown, orange, blue, white and cream. Click on an image to enlarge it and see the sets.

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Peter Pålsson (Sweden)

Exhibit : Treasure Hunting from A to Z

Hello, my name is Peter Pålsson and I collect matchbox labels and boxes from Sweden. Today I am just over 50 years old and my interest in match labels started already in junior high school almost 40 years ago.

One day when I visited a small antique shop to possibly find some coins for my newly started coin collection I instead found lots of colourful labels with animals, cars, flowers and more that turned out to be matchbox labels, the first labels I had seen up to that point. As a young student, my wallet was thin so I only bought a few that time but as soon as I had some money left over I visited the shop and in the end all the labels were mine.

For several years, the labels were left lying around (around 200 which I thought was an incredibly large collection) until by chance I came into contact with a collector in my own hometown Trollhättan. He showed me his collection and told me how big the Swedish match industry had been, and on that day I became a Phillumenist. In Croydon a few years later, I got to meet several collectors with whom I am today good friends, and I had the opportunity to buy labels that I had only seen in Arne Tejder’s catalog.

1840 wooden matchbox from Malmö, 66 × 41 × 19mm

The oldest box in my collection was made in Malmö around 1840.

In Sweden there is no pure match association but only the Nordstjärnan where you can collect everything, for me it felt a bit wrong, so in order for new and old Phillumenists around the world to be able to show off, ask questions, give answers or just see nice objects, I created a group on Facebook which I called Svenska Phillumenister and today it not only has an incredible amount of knowledge through its members but has also expanded to collectors of all of Scandinavia.

You can see lots of photos of my collection on my Instagram page



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Treasure Hunting from A to Z

Swedish Match Factories A to E

Exhibitor : Peter Pålsson

Hi, my name is Peter Pålsson and I am a phillumenist from Sweden.

For almost 40 years I have collected older Swedish matchboxes and labels and one of the best things I know is to be able to add a new factory to my collection, so my theme will therefore be to show labels and boxes from all the different Swedish factories in my collection starting from the letter “A”.

The Swedish Match Industry is one of the oldest in the world, beginning in 1836. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was the biggest producer of matches and matchboxes in the world, with over 50 factories working at its height. Like many industries it went through a period of consolidation in the 20th century, but Swedish Match is still the world’s premier manufacturer.

Liköping is a city that a large part of my family comes from and in Croydon in 1995 I was able to pick up lots of the labels that I have today in my favourite factory, Lidköping’s match factory. Another city that also means a lot to me is Hudiksvall as my wife comes from there and the joy of being able to buy a sheet from there a few years ago was total as I believe that this sheet is the only one of its kind in the world.

Click on an image in the gallery below to see more factories and the unique sheet from Hudiksvall.

For those of you who are wondering, the dimensions of a normal box label are approximately 50 x 30 mm and the karduse boxes I show around 110 x 110 mm, the sheet from Hudikvall is 160 x 210 mm. When you then go up to package formats and larger, there is almost an infinite number of formats.

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Mike Tree (UK)

Exhibit : Top Hats

I was born in 1954 at Boston in Lincolnshire  and have been collecting matchboxes & labels since the early 1960’s, when my Grandfather took me on walks around the local seaport – Boston Dock. This was instrumental in introducing me to matchboxes which were very often given to me (as presents) from crews on the visiting coasters.  The many and varied nationalities were indeed a good source and in particular the Russian and Dutch ships proved to be a prolific supply of new items.

One such fleet worthy of mention is that of the Geest North Sea Line, where a group of 5 sister vessels made weekly calls into the Port, and this resulted in numerous bags and boxes of matchboxes being collected for my ever growing collection.

Having been invited onboard on several occasions this culminated in sea voyages to Holland and spending holidays with families in the Rotterdam area. Needless to say my collection of Dutch items increased significantly during the 1960’s decade.

In the following years my collection has now increased significantly to include worldwide labels and skillets and continues to grow month by month.  I  have a keen interest in Dutch issues together with Belgian, Australian, Russian, UK market such as Cornish Match, Matchmakers, Bryant and May, England’s Glory and really any other appealing origins.

I recall these are 2 of the earliest Russian labels given to me from a visiting coaster
I recall these are 2 of the earliest Russian labels given to me from a visiting coaster
Examples of the first Dutch labels
Examples of the first Dutch labels which had me wondering how many there may be in this set, especially as numbering bearing A, B, C, D & E prefixes were being acquired!
Another Russian treasure
Another Russian treasure acquired and followed by other images in the set










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Anthony’s garage

My matchstick garage

Exhibitor : Anthony Harris

Welcome to my Matchstick garage (Bryant & May Woodcraft kit, distributed in the 1980’s, but put together more recently). To give you an idea of the size of my garage the double doors are 4.5cms high.

It is Friday today and it will be a busy day. Please join me for this day in my life.

My employees

I am the garage proprietor and I have three employees :

  • Bradley (or Wiggo to those who know him well) who cycles into work, sometimes on a penny farthing), sometimes on his Tour de France racer. He has been with me the longest
  • Next is Phillip (we call him Prince), who commutes to the garage in his carriage
  • And then there is the new apprentice Chip (Chocolate Chip for his full name), who is dropped off this morning by his ‘Mother’ in her Cookies van
Motor Match tin, 130 x 54 x 42 mm

As I mentioned we all have a busy day ahead.

The four of us are in the garage this morning and then off to a racing circuit this afternoon and then the rest of the weekend providing mechanic support.

I need to get a motor on and ensure I and the team perform in all conditions.

Friday’s jobs

I wish to show you some of the jobs which I and the team need to be complete at the garage this morning.

Some of today’s jobs

They are unusual quirky matchbook shaped items that appeal to me :

  • A traction engine which is only depicted on the front. On the back it advises it belongs to Poldark Mining Ltd, Wendron Tin Mine, Helston, Cornwall. This engine manufactured by the Cornish Match Co Ltd Japan, with a surprisingly low carrying load of only 6 Matches. – The traction engine requires a timing chain adjustment. Measures 17cm’s to the top of the chimney.
  • A vintage Opel (double sided)- the German owner has asked for ABS to be fitted! “Unser neuer opel Betrieb Manfred Petsche Ganserndorf Wiener Strasser” – this car comes from the new Opel Company that has opened in Wiener Street, Ganserndorf. Contains 10 matches.
  • A Lucky Strike Motorcycle (again double-sided) which needs a full service ahead of being collected later in the morning. Contains 20 matches and is unmarked.
More jobs
  • A Mercedes Benz Unimog UX 100 which a smiling Chip is recharging the air conditioning on. Empty of contents and no other marks. Chip is standing and is 8.2cm’s tall
  • A Family car needing an MOT. Completely empty and un-marked.
  • A Motorhome which is 9.3cm’s long needs new tyres. It Contains 10 matches and again is un-marked.
  • And lastly a Hillman Super Imp. It advises on its boot that it is “Britains brightest light car, on the inside it suggests it is “a striking success” and contains 20 black matches. The Imp requires a new radiator and some antifreeze.
Two Trucks

Two Trucks (which are match book containers) have arrived in time with the parts and accessories that we need to complete this morning’s jobs.

  • The 10-wheeler Megatruck Ruan has an articulated cab. The trailer has a match book door back and front. Overall length is 23 cm’s and at 7.5cm’s height it only just went under the local bridge. Manufactured by Universal Match, St Louis.
  • The Inter-monde van has a back door through which 4 of the original 6 sovereign matchbooks are still loaded. Delivery depots are detailed on both sides and include 3 Belgium cities of Bruxelles, Anvers and Zaventem. Identical in size and shape to the Cookies van.  Whilst not marked I suspect because of its identical shape to the Cookie van, it was also manufactured by Universal Match

The deliveries thankfully included the anti-freeze (or Ethylene Glycol) from Shell. The can is plastic capped, made in Holland and is 5.5 cm’s tall and a diameter of 3.8 cm’s. More than enough to fill the Super Imp. Now time for a brew, the biscuits are in this Ian Logan Associates Limited Queens Silver Jubilee 1977 bus tin (the tin was based on an original design of Huntley and Palmers produced in the early 1900’s.). Tea drunk and empty mugs placed on the tray ready for washing up. The tray shows Bryant & May advertising on the side of a tram and is otherwise unmarked with a diameter of 30.5 cm’s and depth of 2.5 cm’s.

U-Haul bookmatch container

U-Haul (also trade-marked as Mom’s Attic), claims to be the “Number one family mover” send their “Van that rides on air” to pick up the Lucky Strike Motorbike. The service has been completed in time.

Payment can be made through the slot in the roof now that all the U-Haul matchbooks have been removed. The back and the front both open. Manufactured by U Haul in 1988. 21 cm’s long.

It is now the end of the morning, and I am delighted that we have got all the work done.

Saturday, getting ready for race day

I have hooked up the caravan to my time travelling car (gripping stuff!) and we are all off to an American racing circuit where we are on duty as race mechanics for the Smokin’ Joe’s race team.

Car grip and caravan matchbox

The Caravan came “with the compliments of Sprite Caravans, it contains 10 yellow headed matches and is marked as a Finnovision made in Finland. The car is marked on the spine “Safety Matches Smoke Stone Co Ltd Made in Japan”. On the reverse is the question “Will Your Car start Tomorrow?” I hope it does! Standard size 6 x 4 2 cm’s, but big enough to tow the caravan safely!


Smokin’ Joe’s is a US (Headquarters in New York) Tobacco and Cigar Brand that also operates trading posts and a chain of smoking stores. They have brought two vehicle transporters to the race circuit.

  1. The rectangular vehicle transporter pictured below carries a motorbike on the front side, two different racing cars and a dragster on the other sides. This container was made under 1994 copyright by the R J Reynolds Tobacco Co. Within the container is a VIP pass, a catalog of available Smokin’ Joe’s merchandise, information on the health risks of smoking and at the bottom of the picture a notification that there are 50 different match books to collect. The dimensions of the tin are 19 x 11.3 x 6 cm’s.
  2. The second Smokin’ Joe’s Road transporter is cylindrical shaped. It has an insert lid, then another proper lid. It measures 8.6 tall and has a diameter of 11.3 cm’s

The team has an unbelievable line-up of Drivers, Nascar’s (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’s) finest, comprising (match books of) all the Winston Cup Winners from 1971 to 1994, and two of the greatest of all time, namely Dale Earnhardt senior and Richard Petty who each won the Winston Cup annual series 7 times. The tin has the same dimensions as the Smokin’ Joe’s rectangular transporter tin, 19 x 11.3 x 6 cm’s.

Three Cars chocolate matches

What a performance the drivers put on with some great qualifying lap times achieved, all going so well ahead of racing tomorrow, so time to celebrate with some bubbly and chocolate (lots to go around from this box which measures 7.3 x 6.2 x 1.8 cm’s)! 

What a great day. Time to go to sleep in the caravan. Thank you for visiting the garage and joining me racing. I hope we can do it all again soon.

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Anthony Harris (UK)

Exhibit : Anthony’s Garage

I am Anthony Harris, age 21 and have been collecting Road Transport match related items for over 10 years. All the phillumenists I have met have been supportive and I am particularly grateful to the encouragement and ongoing ‘gifts’ toward my collection that I receive from Ray Gustard, Tom Gibbard and Paul Dearie and of course my dad Rupert.

I am passionate about bicycles, motor bikes and cars, in fact all transport that travels on the road. I am a fully qualified vehicle mechanic and own a track race car as well as a road car. I have gone to many of the national race circuits of the UK as a mechanic for a racing car team that has cars in the British Touring Car Championship. When not working for Audi, I am very often fixing friends cars on my dad’s drive. It often looks more like a garage than a drive.

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Masud Ahmed (Bangladesh)

Exhibit : Architecture

I’m Masud Ahmed, 55, from Bangladesh. I have been collecting match boxes and labels for the past 6 years besides my other collectable addictions. I am also a founder member of Bangladesh Matchbox Collectors Club (BMCC).

Beside my business I spend a lot of time in collecting items all around Bangladesh and the world. It is very fascinating to me to be in this hobby and to be able to share my passion with others.

I greatly enjoy sorting my collection and to make gorgeous albums to share with other like-minded collectors and for display in exhibitions.

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Four Dutch puzzle labels showing Architecture, from 1976 international phillumeny exhibition, 64 x 109 mm

Exhibitor : Masud Ahmed

The overall architecture of today is very different when compared with the architecture of yesteryears. Nowadays architecture has taken a minimalistic approach which can be seen everywhere from buildings to home appliances.

Architecture in the past was designed with lots of different things in mind, such as form, function, flexibility and medium. Today it seems that cost is the overriding factor.

Because of this, there are many pieces of architecture that are considered world-heritage status today because of their historical significance and their unique, elaborate designs. Their design language had something distinctive in it that cause many to still admire and study it today.

This is why I like the architecture of the past a lot, and collect matchbox labels that show it. Click on an image in the gallery below to enlarge it and see some of my Architecture matchbox labels.

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