Two for the price of one

My pencil sketch of Paolo Ulian’s double match

Exhibitor : Phil Stringer

Several years ago I came across an interesting item on the internet by Italian artist Paolo Ulian, he had produced a match with a head at both ends allowing the same splint to be used a second time thus saving on wood.

One reviewer marvelled at this original idea commenting on why nobody had done it before, another’s more accurate comment noted that the idea was not a new one. Perhaps the modern trend towards conserving world resources means such a match should gain many plaudits.


Two Ducal Light Company boxes


Conserving resources was also a concern during the Second World War and the nobly named Ducal Light Co. Ltd, established in 1941, brought out their own double headed matches named “Ducal” bearing the slogan “Two For One”.




Matches with two heads

The Ducal Light Co double heads date back some 80 years but matches with two heads can be traced back to Victorian match makers who used the idea for their cigar lighting matches (typically named Vesuvians). Conserving materials may be the reason, if superior wood which would not burn through was employed, and would make particular sense where Palmer’s exotic glass stemmed “Crystal Fixed Stars” were concerned. The heads of this type of match, when finished would remain heated for a long time, this is a drawback when the match has only been used once as to place it back in the box whilst still hot could ignite the whole contents. Paolo Ulian’s box comprised a double length skillet with a normal size drawer at each end one for unused matches and one for the half used, the picture on the box denoting which end was for which, a useful idea for the old Vesuvians?

A “Raff-Link” match doubler


Back with savings made for the war effort, Lyons Ink Ltd (not to be confused with Lyons Tea) produced a device to get twice the light out of your match by splitting it down its length with a razor blade – enter the “Raff-Link” match doubler.


The idea was to use an old safety razor blade, which having lost the edge that would comfortably shave a man’s face, would still be very sharp. Many contraptions were designed for reusing old blades, craft knives an obvious choice, pencil sharpeners, even a wood plane.

Instructions for using the “Raff-Link”


The Raff-Link employs two blades secured into a head unit that slides along a central guide groove with a recess either side to cut two matches simultaneously. To be successful the matches have to be of relatively good quality, the stem of straight grain and a head that would not crumble.

Having tested it I found it works surprisingly well although the two halves are not always equally cut down the middle. To strike the half match a finger needs to support the head to prevent the stick from breaking. Here are some more pictures of the “Raff-Link”, click on an image to enlarge it.

Should you prove to be ultra thrifty you could take a Ducal Double Head slice it in the Raff-Link and end up with “Four For One”.

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