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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