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, (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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