About us

Here are some matchboxes, bookmatches and other items that our members collect
Here are some matchboxes, bookmatches and other items that our members collect

The British Matchbox Label and Bookmatch Society (BML&BS) was founded on the 1st January 1945.

We are a very active Society with members who are fascinated by all aspects of the match making industry across the world. Many are collectors of matchboxes, matchbooks and match-related items, while others are passionate about the social, industrial and artistic history of the humble match in all its forms. 

We always welcome new members – if you would like to join us please click here. We publish a 40-page magazine six times a year, hold regular meetings throughout the year which always include an auction, and offer members many other hobby benefits.

The Society is non-profit making, all income being used to provide facilities for the benefit of members. It is run by Phillumenists for Phillumenists. Election of Officers who are honorary, is by nomination and election.

The founder members of the Society were probably only concerned in forming a group of collectors to advance their swapping circle, add to their collections and pool information about what they collected. Most likely it never occurred to them that what they started would still be operating so many years later. It is indeed remarkable, and a credit to them and those members that followed who have taken up their lead and offered their services to the Society.

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Some Social History – of the BML&BS

Matchbox collectors on the 7th July 1946
Matchbox collectors on the 7th July 1946

The Society was originally named The British Matchbox Label and Booklet Society (BML&BS), when it was formed in 1945. The name was changed on the 17 April 2011 to replace the outdated term booklet in favour of bookmatch. 

It would appear that earlier attempts to establish a “matchbox collectors club” in Britain were made prior to 1945. We know only scant references to these, such as the “Society of English Labelists” formed in 1937, and the “Match Label Exchange Club” (England) in the 1930s.

We also know of a small note book, found in a collection formally owned by F.Huntley, that is an important document of the social history of our hobby. The first page recording the title; “The British Society of Matchbox Label Collectors”. It then lists, officers; President: Mrs. M.S.Evans, Honorary Treasurer: B.M.Toole and Honorary Secretary: S.H.Toole. Committee: Lt. Col. J.C.Stitt, R.E.West and G.A.Thomas.  Followed by the Members in numerical order, from Number 1 to 30, although, no details are recorded against No.22. Following this is a list of “Non Members”. A few names follow the membership list, that are not given a membership number. Against one of these is a note; “War address”, thus leading me to conclude that this organisation was formed during or before the Second World War. At the other end of this note book are a list of dealings (swapping details) with other collectors, and many having dates indicating transactions in 1938 and 1939.

Another organisation name appeared in the Daily Herald Newspaper of 29th November 1938 is about the ‘British Union of Matchbox Collectors’ and refers to them as “Match-box magnates”.

It is thought that the first meeting held in England of matchbox label collectors was at the Boulogne Restaurant, Gerrard Street, London on the 17th September 1937. It was organised by Mr. S.H.Toole of Southampton.

Here are three letters from prominent senior members of the Society who reminisce about how the Society formed in 1945.


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