The Swiss Chamois

A chamois

Exhibitor : Stefan Joset

Click here for Swiss German language version


The chamois is the trademark of the match company Diamond SA in Nyon (Switzerland). Later this sign was also adopted by the company Etincelle SA. They were sold under the name “Gemsen-Hölzer (chamois-matches)” between 1938 and 1982.

There are countless different bookmatches with and without advertising which I would like to exhibit here. I hope that you like this splendour of colours and variety and I would like to thank the organizers for the invitation to participate in this wonderful exhibition.

The crossbow was also used more and more often as a symbol of Swiss work. The lettering of the match advertising was always in French and German. The chamois always stood on a rock and looked to the right. In the background it had stylized mountains.

From 1961 onwards, the logo with the chamois was used more and more often in a small, round format. It was not until the beginning of 1967 that the logo changed and the chamois sometimes looked to the left and at times only the half-portrait was visible. The image of the whole chamois on the rock was also presented in an abstract way.

Three bookmatch inside views


In those years, the logo with the chamois could hardly be found on the outside of book matches. 

However, to supplement the self-advertising the chamois was printed on the inside of the bookmatches, below are some examples from my collection.

From 1971, Etincelle only advertised itself on the inside of the bookmatches. In 1982 Etincelle SA ceased production of bookmatches.

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Stephane Pinaud (France)

Exhibit : French matchbox labels (1830s – 1870s)

Matchboxes caught my attention when I was 11 years old. I started the collection imitating a cousin. At first it was a game and an excuse to escape from the family farm to explore the shops and tobacco shop.

Casque d'or label, 50 x 35 mm
Casque d’or label, 50 x 35 mm

Exploring the attics didn’t turn out, but I found “Casque d’or” box, dated mid-1920s, in a drawer at my grandparents’ house, a treasure for me at this time !

The virus for good infected me in 1994, at random from a newsstand, when I discovered the existence of L’Association Vitolphilique et Philumenique Francaise (AVPF) through a classified ad from a collector in a specialized newspaper. I was then 22 years old and began to search for old boxes.

I immediately made the choice to limit my collection to complete French boxes and to go back as closely as possible to the origins of this everyday object. My oldest box is from the end of the 1830s.


From before 1950 I have about 3500 complete boxes including 1000 from before the monopoly established in 1872. Over time I have also collected labels, especially for advertising boxes from the 1920s / 1930s some of which are very rare. Since 2008 I have been in charge of writing the magazine of AVPF and since 2011 chairman of the AVPF.

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Stefan Joset (Switzerland)

Exhibit : The Swiss Chamois

My name is Stefan Joset, I am 64 years old and already retired. I live in Switzerland in a village near Basel, where I grew up. I have been a collector for as long as I can remember. It started with postage stamps, collected all advertising art from banana labels to beer mats and over the years it has all taken up way too much space. That’s why I reduced my collections and now specialize only in Swiss matchbooks, Swiss chocolate wrappers and Liebig pictures (trade cards).

Here are a few examples of Liebig pictures and chocolate wrappers (more information on the chocolate wrappers can be found here).

In my free time, I am still in charge of the Swiss Match Museum and mainly take care of sorting, archiving and cataloguing our collection and exhibits. In addition, I take care of the homepage and organize the international exhibition Phillonex every year.

I really like the variety and rich colours of the Swiss bookmatches, which are decorated with a local animal, the chamois. For decades, this trademark was emblazoned on the products of our then largest match factory in Switzerland.

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Shakil Huq (Bangladesh)

Exhibit : Two inspiring artists

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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Phil Stringer (UK)

Exhibit : Extraordinary Matches 

I collect many things but matchbox labels and related items hold my strongest interest. Having been involved in the hobby for more than fifty years I find myself particularly interested in the weird and wonderful and in this respect phillumeny doesn’t disappoint, I still find things that I would never even imagined could exist. 

T B Industries type holder (140 x 50 x 50 mm)


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, Portmeirion Totem ware, Irish wade ceramics, Holkham 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 (530 x 65 x 60 mm and 530 x 95 x 60 mm)
Some curious striking tubes (58 x 38 x 25 mm)
A match striker (150 x 80 x 110 mm)



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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The Eight Immortals of Henry Waugh & Co

Henry Waugh & Co matchbox label from 1950s (148 X 194 mm)

Exhibitor : Badrul Hisham Jaafar

This unique Henry Waugh & Co Ltd’s advertisement match label featuring the eight immortals has been known as a match label of the 1950s period and regarded as one of the most beautiful yet elusive labels from this part of the world. It is one of my personal favourites and treasured collection which took me many years to secure. Luck must have played a big part for me in getting this label. It’s a large colourful match package label despite some frailty at the edges. For the love of Phillumeny, it’s worthy in my humble opinion to share this colourful label with others.

Henry Waugh and his company

Henry Waugh & Co Ltd was a British trading house and sole agent that imported consumer goods ranging from cigarettes to canned soup in early 1900s until 1950s to the region (Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand). The company was incorporated in Singapore on 14 December 1901 with its registered address at 204, Cantonment Road while it was incorporated in Malaysia (then Malaya) on 31 July 1904. The founder, Mr. Henry Waugh was a resident of Penang for many years and was a famous businessman in Malaya.

Some Katz Brothers labels, early 1900s

Henry came to Malaya in 1897 and became a Director of Katz Brothers & Co in Penang which was also involved in match trading. Henry subsequently acquired Katz Brothers & Co in 1928 to be part of Henry Waugh & Co. He was said to be involved in many other businesses in Malaya ranging from owning several tin mines in Taiping, Perak and Selangor as well as rubber estates in Kedah.

Henry passed away on 6 March 1934 at Standon Court, Tunbridge Wells, England at the age of 58 (source: The Straits Times, 8 March 1934).

The thriving business of Henry Waugh & Co was eventually acquired by the far east conglomerate Jardine Matheson & Co Ltd in 1954.

Henry Waugh (Malaya) Ltd shop as it currently stands at the heritage zone (in the UNESCO world heritage site) at Bandar Hilir, Melaka, Malaysia

The Eight Immortals

The beautiful advertisement match label of Henry Waugh & Co depicting a Chinese painting of the legendary Eight Immortals enjoying a game of “mahjong” together with two servants. Two red-crowned crane birds are seen at the left bottom of the picture with picturesque background of highland cliffs, trees and large houses or palaces.  The company’s business city branches: Bangkok, Singapore, Penang, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur are stated at each side and at the base of the label. A similar advertisement label is also available in the collection of the National Museum of Singapore. (source:

The 8 immortals are said to have supernatural powers. They are: 

  1. He Xiangu, the only woman in the group who normally carries a lotus flower
  2. Cao Guojiu, a royal uncle (emperor) who holds a jade tablet
  3. Li Tieguai, a beggar (a bit unsound mind) with an iron crutch and a gourd
  4. Lan Caihe, a young musician with a bamboo basket
  5. Lu Dongbin, a scholar, a poet, and a swordsman with a magic sword
  6. Han Xiangzi, a philosopher and a flutist with a jade flute
  7. Zhang Guolao, an elder knowledgeable master with a paper donkey and a drum (associated with symbol of longevity) 
  8. Zhongli Quan, a general with a fan and a peach

Try to spot them all in the advertisement label if you can.

In Chinese mythology, the Eight Immortals are considered to be signs of prosperity and longevity; hence, it’s fitting to be displayed and shared herein. May BML&BS (our match label club society) and all its members prosper and live long as well. Cheers.

References & resources: 

  2. SGP business
  3. Experian
  4. History of Jardine Matheson & Co
  5. Katz Street
  6. 711collectionstore

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Swedish favourites

Vulcan Match Factory, box and packet labels

Exhibitor : Al-Razee Anonnya

For this third international virtual Matchboxes and Labels Exhibition organised by BML&BS, I am exhibiting some of my favourite Swedish matchbox labels.

Sweden is the country to register some pioneering contribution in the development of safety matches back in 19th century. Swedish factories produced a great many matchboxes with beautiful, colourful and amazing miniature artworks over the years. Artworks on Swedish labels are really beautiful and mesmerizing which depict history, culture, architecture, myth and many different aspects of life in an interesting way.

I love the beautiful artworks of Swedish labels which have always worked as a stimulation for me to strive for deep study and research on the history of matchboxes, and to learn more. Therefore I love to collect Swedish labels and display some of the beautiful labels from my collection in international exhibitions.

Click on an image in the gallery below to enlarge it and see some of my favourite labels.

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Some Japanese favourites

Seven old Japanese packet and box labels (100×63, 55×33, 86×62, 54×34, 55×34, 99×63 and 54×34 mm)

Exhibitor : Chris Hime

I was attracted to these old Japanese labels by the numerous subjects depicted on them. The intricate detail on some for a mere matchbox label, is interesting with the multitude of colours used and the many fine lines used in the print.     

My knowledge is limited as I do not have any written material and have relied on any information obtained from collections purchased. Labels like these and those made in Sweden from this era (pre 1939 as I am told) are made to appeal as well as serve a purpose.       

This is a very small selection of what I have recently put in albums. I always appreciate any information I am provided. Please enjoy.

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Pillbox tops found on the Australian market

Australian pill boxes, early 20th century (32 x 25 mm)

Exhibitor : David Figg

Little circular labels affixed to the top of round plaid cylinders that housed wax vesta matches (and usually had a sandpaper coated bottom striking surface), became known as Pillboxes.

Wax vesta matches also came in tins plus some matchboxes but this exhibit deals exclusively with the pillbox labels.

Manufacture of wax vestas in pillbox containers were produced by a number of companies in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Italy as well as a number of factories in Victoria, Australia plus two others in New Zealand.

Interestingly, they were predominantly destined for the Australian market and to a much lesser extent the New Zealand market. Wax vesta matches were at the time in high demand compared to wooden safety matches.

Empty pillbox containers have been found containing small seashells and coins. It is reputed that the wealthy kept gold sovereigns in them and miners, their small gold nuggets.

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Match related postcards and envelopes

Early 20th century match related post card (140 x 90 mm)

Exhibitor : Fernán Pacheco

Referring to match-related collectables, the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Matches (Barry T. Sturman, K. L. Kosanke, B. J. Kosanke and Robert M. Winokur. 2020 Internet Edition), indicates that “over the years, the hobby expanded to include collections of matchbook covers and practically anything else related to matches”, including ephemera such as advertisements, brochures and letterheads, but also match related postcards.

As a stamp collector but also as a philumenist, I have been drawn to those small spaces where both hobbies coincide, such as the one of match tax stamps. This exhibit is a sample of another one of these coincidences: the one of postcards and envelopes. This field of collecting can also be divided into subcategories such as commercial covers from manufacturers, humorous postcards, artistic postcards, postcards showing match factories, etc. Let’s take a walk through this field of collecting. 

Commercial envelopes from manufacturers

Two envelopes with the manufacturers’ letterheads are shown. The first from the Indian factory St. Josephs Match Factory Kalugumalai. The back of the envelope has the stamps put into circulation in 1957, which show the map of India.

The second one is postmarked October 4, 1938, and it is from the Fábrica de Fósforos La Comercial, which was a Cuban factory located at Falgueras 1, Cerro, Havana, Cuba. One of the colourful boxes manufactured by this company is also shown.

Postcards showing match factories

A label from Ohio Match Co.

Some match factories, due to their size and importance, were real tourist attractions in some communities, and for this reason they can be found in quite a few postcards. One of them was the Ohio Match Co.(nowadays the Wadsworth Warehouse) which was established in 1895 and was the second oldest operating match manufacturer in the United States.  Located in Wadsworth, Ohio, its plant was the largest in the world, producing more than 300 million wooden and paper matches each day. The facility covered 18 acres and had a train line running through the factory as shown on one of the cards. Some of its most famous trademarks include: Junior, Rosebud, Chief, Armadillo, Ohio Noiseless, Ohio Safety Matches, Ohio Blue Tip, Fife and Drum, Pilot and Royal Star.

There is still an annual festival called “The Blue Tip Festival” which is a five-day celebration of the local community, that starts with a parade and the lighting of a 20-foot-high blue-tip match, which lights downtown Wadsworth during the festival’s duration and has events such as Running Club’s “Matchstick 4 Mile” Foot Race or the “Blue Tip Idol” singing contest.

Humorous and special celebration postcards

Well known are the cards incorporating a striking surface as part of the pictorial design. They also exist to celebrate special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, often making puns with the word match. These types of cards are usually very creative. For example, the one with the cat holding a box of “Luckistrikes” has a fold-out strip with twelve photographs of Bridlington main attractions such as the Floral Clock, the Spa, the Royal Princess Parade, the Harbor, the Victoria Terraces, etc.  This one has a one penny stamp postmarked 1929, issued in commemoration of the Congress of the Universal Postal Union held in London in that year.

Artistic postcards

Another subcategory is made up of cards with artistic elements such as the one that contains an old photograph of a match seller with the caption at the bottom that says: “Pipe Lights, Penny a Box”.  The second is that of a modern artist that draws his own matchbox designs and sells them online.

Promotional or advertising

Finally, there are envelopes with designs called to promote the sales of certain brands of matches, in this case, the Three Stars brand, cover postmarked April 10, 1928.

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Indian Forest Memoirs

Indian Forest Memoirs by R S Troup, 1910

Exhibitor : Simon Backman

In 1910, R.S. Troup F.C.H, Imperial Forest Economist to the Government of India authored a book “The Indian Forest Memoirs”. It was subtitled “The Prospects of the Match Industry in the Indian Empire with Particulars of Proposed Match-Factory Sites and Woods suitable for Match Manufacture”. 

For phillumenists interested in Indian match manufacturing this is a seminal work as it gives detail on the match industry during the early years of the twentieth century.

Below are some passages extracted from it together with some rare labels from my own collection.

Match factories operating in India in 1910

“Match factories have been established in India from time to time for several years past but have in some cases met with little or no success, owing chiefly to the wrong selection of sites and to the lack of expert advice. A few factories are now at work; some of them are doing well. Among these may be mentioned :

  1. Labels from the Berar, Oriental and Bande Mataram factories

    Gujarat Islam Match Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Ahmedabad

  2. Bombay Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Bombay
  3. Amrit Factory, Kotah, Bilaspur
  4. Berar Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Ellichpur, Berar
  5. Ranbir Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Jammu
  6. Oriental Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Calcutta
  7. Bande Mataram Match Factory, Calcutta.
  8. Belgaum Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Belgaum


“The Ellichpur Factory in Berar produces 200 gross of filled boxes per diem, and it is proposed to raise this to 300 gross.  There are a few small factories which hardly deserve the name. Most of these make pyrotechnic matches by hand obtaining matchsticks from Japan and tipping them locally, or even buying Japanese matches, breaking off the heads, and tipping the sticks with pyrotechnic compound for firework displays. The total output of these small factories does not average more than about 300 gross filled boxes per diem.”


Labels from the Amrit Match Factory


“I had the opportunity of visiting the Amrit Match Factory, Kotah (Kargi Road Railway Station), in the Bilaspur District, in January 1908. The factory employs about 400 hands. The average outturn in 1907 was 600 gross of boxes per diem but at the time of my visit only 500 gross per diem were being turned out…Supplies of wood are obtained from the surrounding Zemindari and Government forests from a distance of anything up to 40 miles partly by carting and partly by rail. The supply of wood, however, is inadequate, and splints are to some extent imported from Sweden, tipped with composition at Kotah, and packed in boxes made from local woods. The factory produces only sulphur matches”


Labels from the Gujrat Islam Factory


“I had an opportunity of visiting the Gujrat Islam Match Factory at Ahmedabad in October 1907. The business was started in 1895 and the factory commenced work in 1897. The concern was at first worked at a loss, this being largely due to faulty expert advice. Recently the services of a better expert have been obtained and things are more flourishing. Some 300 hands are employed, and 600 to 800 gross of boxes of matches are turned out per diem. The matches manufactured are safety, sulphur, and pyrotechnic matches.”



Labels from the Bombay Match Factory



“I paid a visit to the Bombay Match Factory in October 1907. This factory situated in the New Sewri Road, is a small one, turning out about 250 gross of boxes per diem, but with more capital it is capable of expansion, as the manager informed me that supply cannot keep pace with demand, and that he could produce every match he produced. At this factory safety and pyrotechnic matches are made, there being no sale for sulphur matches. There is a large demand for pyrotechnic matches in connection with the Bombay New Year Celebrations in the beginning of November.”



The Indian Forest Memoirs, by R.S. Troup, Economic Products Series Vol II Part 1, Superintendent Government Printing, Calcutta, 1910.

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French matchbox labels (1830s – 1870s)

1848 cut-panel from Roche & Co (70 x 32 mm)

Exhibitor : Stephane Pinaud

Click here for French language version


The French production in the 19th century is known for very beautiful lithographed boxes and very varied shapes. These pictorial attractions have meant that they have been preserved (completed or cut-panel) and, in fact, we know many of them.


Early manufacturers used much cruder labels and boxes that are much harder to find. What could encourage a person to keep such boxes and labels ? Almost nothing, and I find incredible that such objects have reached us.

So here are some rudimentary labels and boxes from the 1830s to the early 1870s and the establishment of the monopoly. Some manufacturers have chosen to use these boxes and labels until the establishment of the monopoly, probably for cost reasons.

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Extraordinary Matches

Cigar Lights

Exhibitor : Phil Stringer

Many companies produced “Cigar Lights” on a simple wooden splint. The example on the left in the photo is a Bryant and May light of standard size, with bigger examples, that on the far right would take a brave smoker to hold this while it burned.

Cigar Lights boxes

The need, or a perceived need, to protect against the burning head from dropping off, meant that various ideas were tried, one of the most popular was to incorporate wires along the stem held by cotton braids, the “Braided Cigar Light”.



Another way to ensure the head didn’t drop was a non-combustible stem, Glass, porcelain, Letchford even used bone as a solution. The steel stemmed examples are probably experimental pieces and would likely become too hot to hold.

Three “Motor Match” boxes

The Motor Match, basically four times the size of a regular windproof match, if blown out it would reignite. Sold in card packets of ten or larger tins of fifty, bespoke holders of metal or leather, as shown, were available.

Three Stars Gengas Match


Another match specifically designed for the motorist was the Three Stars Gengas Match. This was used in Sweden during WW2 to ignite the engine of a gas-powered car, developed to assuage petrol shortages.




Merx Fusee boxes

The Merx Fusee was used by the telegraph industry, designed to light a magnesium tablet for a portable soldering iron. The examples in the cylindrical tin had a metal tube with solder inside and a match type composition around the exterior, the two ends of a wire would be pushed into the tube and the outer lit by a supplied match.


Tandare Till Brannflasker


Tandare Till Brannflasker, translates to read as “Molotov Cocktail Match”. Dated to 1943 they were intended for use during WW2, attached to Tandare Till Brannflaskera petrol bomb the ignited match would inflame the contents when broken.


Pellet match boxes

Pellet matches, different means of igniting these were employed, Perry’s lights fitted into a metal device of two tubes either side of a central plunger, this when pushed down would ignite a single pellet. The Jon Wonder held the pellets in a case, a separate tweezer like device would grip a single pellet to be struck like a conventional match. The Continuous Match (facsimile box) worked on a similar principal to the perry with a container that would ignite each head in succession.

Drown & Co Ignition Rods


The Drown and Co Ignition Rod functioned in the same way as a conventional match except it could be blown out and reused until spent.

Center top a Swedish example the others experimental versions.


Candle wax vestas

The candle wax vesta was very similar in size and appearance to a birthday cake candle with a match head composition. The box was designed to hold the match to facilitate the melting of sealing wax.


Some Cigar Caps and Tips

Cigar Caps fitted over the cigar end, the tips were pushed in then the cigar itself struck like a match. The tips shown here are by Pollock and had cloth flowers to decorate the heads. The sharp end of the Dunlop was used to pierce the cigar but not left in as the tips were.



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Cleveland Match Company

An unused Delivery Note, from the Stockton-on-Tees address

Exhibitor : Alan Middleton

The Cleveland Match Company operated as match importers and wholesalers from 1925 to 1935, initially in 29 Marton Road Middlesbrough and then in Boathouse Lane in Stockton-on-Tees. This Exhibit tells the story of the growth and subsequent decline of their business and the three match brands that they imported during their ten years of operation.

The beginning, Thistle brand

Alfred Tomlinson had started a small iron and coal business in Middlesbrough in 1919. He was joined in 1921 by Frank Hall and the business expanded into concrete and scrap metals. Then in 1925 they ventured into match importation and formed a subsidiary called The Cleveland Match Company.

Thistle box and packet labels, 1925 (50 x 30 and 111 x 71 mm)



The first brand they imported was “The Thistle” which came boxed and labelled directly from the Belgian suppliers.

The matches were stored in bonded warehouses, ready for distribution to the retailers by a network of representatives.

These men were paid a commission on the volume of sales made.



Russian matches, Top Score brand

Top Score box label and Thistle packet labels, imports from Russia

During 1927 the company introduced the “Top Score” brand from Russia and applied for the Trade Mark which was granted in 1928. Russian matches were very competitively priced compared to British-made matches, and this led to Cleveland Match switching Thistle to Russian suppliers.

The threat from Russian imports by Cleveland and other match companies was so serious that it prompted a question in Parliament on 5th July 1928. Concerns were expressed that the public were being deceived about the origin of matches, and Thistle was explicitly mentioned as an example of a product that used a British emblem. H M Customs immediately insisted on more explicit labelling on imported matchbox labels, which can be seen on the labels here. 

In the early 1930s the words “Foreign Made” started being used, to conceal the Russian origin. and to overcome the adverse public reaction to Russian goods. Problem solved for the British smoker who didn’t know what he was buying but hard lines on the commercial viability of the British match manufacturers at the time!

Tartan and “Top Score” brands

In 1928 the “Tartan” brand started being imported from Belgium and carried the company’s name (as C M C), The Belgians also supplied a very attractive “Top Score” label which also carried the company name and the Middlesbrough address. But in 1929 the company moved to bigger and better premises in nearby Stockton-on-Tees which meant that the Middlesbrough labels were no longer usable.

Closure in 1935

Cleveland Match never issued ‘own-brand’ advertising labels, unlike their competitors such as the Middlesbrough-based importers S.J.Endean Rowe/Nectar Match Co. The early 1930’s were very hard times, and the depression was at its height. The British Match Corporation had been formed in 1927 and this made it very difficult for independent match merchants to survive.  Finally, after experiencing supply problems with Russia and the cut-throat competition the partners reluctantly decided to run down the match business and concentrate on the fast-developing light engineering side of their business.

Here are a few company letterheads and business documents which serve to illustrate the history of this short-lived much-loved British company.

Cleveland’s parent company Tomlinson Hall & Co. Ltd. continues to trade, and now operates out of Billingham. Tomlinson, Hall & Co. became Tomlinson, Hall & Co. Ltd in 1954 and they have now been in business for over 100 years.

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Fernán Pacheco (Costa Rica)

Exhibit : Match related postcards and covers

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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Rupert Harris (UK)

Exhibit : The Harlequin Match (by Bryant & May)

I am Rupert Harris. I live a few miles from the old Moreland’s Match factory in Gloucester, England which Bryant & May acquired in 1913 and was closed in 1976. I have been collecting Bryant & May Hardware and Ephemera for over 40 years. My mother was a passionate collector and I very often accompanied her around the antiques shops, fairs and markets. At the tender age of ten she encouraged me not only to look out for items that may be of interest to her but also to follow her footsteps and become a collector myself; but of what? 

The Moreland’s factory was a landmark that we often passed and was very visible especially at night. For many years including after the closure of the match factory, the neon signage above the main entrance gate continued to brighten the night sky. Still there today, it comprises a pair of crossed matches and went through an ongoing looped sequence of both brown wooden splints lighting up, then the two red match heads, which then both burst into a flickering flame before brief darkness and the repeat of the cycle. 

Some brief research established that Gloucester had previously been the second largest manufacturing centre in the country behind London. The decision to become a phillumenist had been made and the collecting began. Within a year the wise decision, owing to budgetary restriction (pocket money, parent generosity) led to the narrowing of the collection to items bearing the words upon them of ‘Bryant & May’.

Harlequin Matches Third Edition
Harlequin Matches Third Edition



In 2008 I published a book about Bryant and May’s range of Harlequin Matches which is now in its third edition which adds in even more information about these fantastically colourful matchboxes.



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Chris Hime (Australia)

Exhibit : Some Japanese Favourites

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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A. Dellachá Matchboxes

A. Dellachá No.17 matchbox opened out flat – Printer: Lit. Armanino – Genova, Italy

Exhibitor : Alan Downer

I have a collection of older Italian matchboxes and matchbox labels, which includes those of Ambrogio Dellachá (1824-1916). The company was founded in 1860, and produced many fine lithographically produced matchbox designs. The process of lithography uses limestone blocks. The matchboxes usually display the name A. Dellachá.

The company set up by Dellachá operated against a great deal of competition from the other match makers both in Italy and in other countries, such as those established in France. The company prospered and won medals at exhibitions. The majority of the matchboxes in Italy at this time were what collectors refer to as “springflap” matchboxes. These were made in card, in different sizes, they often displayed a “model” number, which is a reference to the grade of both the matches and the size and quality of the matchbox.

Most springflap matchboxes have a natural rubber band that assists in the opening of the matchbox, thus allowing easier access to the matches within the box. The boxes were filled with wax stem matches of the strike-anywhere type, that could be ignited by striking on the sandpaper part of the matchbox, or indeed any rough surface, or wax stem safety matches, which could only be ignited on a special striking surface on the matchbox.

The company also made matches called “Bougie de poche“, which were a little wax stem “candle”, with a match head. These candle matchboxes had a metal socket to hold a single match in the top of the box. The company also made larger sized matchboxes with the name “Camera”. Many of the designs of “Bougie de poche” matchboxes, that held the candle matches, can also be found with a different design of match tray, and without the metal socket. These matchboxes would then hold the wax stem matches; “vestas” as they are often called.

The Dellachá company operated in Moncalieri (near Torino, in the region of Piedmont in Northwest Italy) and in Milan. Details on the internet suggest that the matches were initially made in other locations, but none of the matchboxes I have seen give the location other than Moncalieri or Milan. Most of the matches were sold in Italy and they were also exported to Argentina. After the Argentine government imposed much larger taxes on imported matches in 1882, he employed his brother, Stefano, who was already living in Argentina to establish a match factory at Buenos Aires to get around the problem. Dellachá joined the Fabbriche Riunite di Fiammifer (FRdF) (United match factories) when it was founded in 1892.

In Italy in 1916 the government of Italy also imposed large taxes on the matches and the problem was so great that the matchboxes had to be made much cheaper. The quality of the matchbox graphics and materials used suffered considerably. Dellachá also exported to Portugal, Spain and America.

Displayed here are some of the Dellachá springflap boxes that form part of my collection.

I do not know when the company ceased to exist in Italy or in Argentina, or much more about the company. If you have any information that might help my researches about the family, such as when, Stefano was born and died, or about the company it would be most welcome.

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Al-Razee Anonnya (Bangladesh)

Exhibit : Swedish favourites

My name is Al-Razee Anonnya, but I’m better known as Robert Burns. This is because I’m an ardent follower of Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland and one of the greatest poets of English literature from the romantic era. I studied enthusiastically about him and his poetry which still I do. Therefore my friends from home and abroad started calling me “Robert Burns”.

I am a matchbox and label collector, and started collecting in March 2018. Today I have around 10000 matchboxes and over 12,000 labels in my collection.

I am the joint secretary of Bangladesh Matchbox Collectors’ Club (BMCC). BMCC frequently publishes different souvenir matchboxes on different subjects and I am also a part of this project of publishing new matchboxes as I write miniature history which are depicted on the matchboxes about the subject of those matchboxes.

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Alan Middleton (UK)

Exhibit : Cleveland Match Company

I joined the BML&BS in 1969 and attend most of the London meetings. My son Mark and grandson Padraig followed suit and joined the society in 2021.

My interests in phillumeny are mainly pre World War II labels and British Bookmatches and I have approximately 10,000 items in my collection.

I particularly enjoy researching British factories and importers 1918-1939 as the labels are still reasonably priced and, most importantly, obtainable!

Published 2018
Published 2018


Many of my articles have been published in the Society magazine, and more recently in 2020 have updated my book in colour of the ‘North of England Match Co. West Hartlepool’.

I am currently part of the group of our Society collectors researching John Walker for the 200th Anniversary Exhibition of his invention of the friction match to be held in Preston Park Museum, Stockton-on-Tees in 2026.


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