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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

© Copyright BML&BS 1945 - 2024

Powered by Everything WordPress theme