John Walker – inspires a new concept CD

The progressive-rock band Gil Galad have recently announced the release of a new studio album “A Record of the Unworldly and the Strange – An Ingenious Man …”. 

The work was inspired by John Walker, the entrepreneur and chemist from Stockton on Tees who is credited with the invention of the friction match.
The limited edition CD launch version comes in beautifully presented packaging featuring original artwork with lyric booklet, and the album weaves a wonderful story of truth, myth and legend.

More details can be found here on their web site and you can download the album here on their Bandcamp page.

2024 Society Award Winners announced

The Society makes two Awards each year, and the Award Winners for 2024 were announced at the recent AGM.

  • The Tony Gallaher Memorial Award for the Best Article published in the Society magazine in the previous year was awarded to :
    Jerry Bell and Barry Sturman for their article ‘Sulphur Matches’ (published Oct 2023)
  • The KC Literary Award for the Best Publication reviewed in the Society magazine in the previous year was awarded to :
    Tom Gibbard for his book ‘British Bookmatches’ 

Society Facebook pages

Thanks to Tom O’Key the Society has now joined Facebook.

Tom has set up for us two Facebook Groups’ :

  1. British Matchbox Label and Bookmatch Society” is intended as a general Group for those interested in the hobby of phillumeny. Anyone wishing to join this Group does not need to be a member of the Society.
  2. BML&BS” is for Society members only, and to join this Group members need to supply their BML&BS membership number.

Facebook Groups are designed for people to connect with each other around a common  interest or topic. They are a place where people can have discussions, ask questions, and share information, including pictures and videos, and ideas.

To participate in these Facebook Groups you would have to be registered with Facebook. Both these groups are registered as private with only members of the group being able to see who is in the group and what they post, although, the group itself is visible to anyone so that they can find this group. Anyone seeking to join either group will be required to abide by the Group rules.

To find either Group log into your Facebook account and use the Facebook search (top left of any page on Facebook) by typing the Group title, and choose what you are looking for from the results:

  1. British Matchbox Label and Bookmatch Society
  2. BML&BS

Auction Rules updated

Following feedback from members who sell items in our Society Actions we have changed the Auction Rules in respect of Reserves on Lots that do not sell. Previously the seller would be charged a 15% commission with no upper limit. Now the same commission applies but there is a fixed upper limit of £10. We hope this will encourage sellers to enter more high-value Lots in our Society Auctions.

The Rules affected are : Meeting Action Rules 9.4 and 11.1, Postal Auction Rule 9.3 and On-line Auction Rules 9.3 and 11.1

Harlequin Matches

In 2008 a comprehensive book with 88 pages was published with the title Harlequin Matches. This was followed by a second edition that was significantly larger with 120 pages. Now a third edition, which adds in even more information about these fantastically colourful matchboxes has been published (February 2021) and is now available for purchase. It details Bryant & May’s range of Harlequin Matches. It is laid out in the same format as the previous editions. It is arranged in two sections. Section One details the cardboard Harlequin range and Section Two the Plastic Harlequin range. The third edition now numbers 137 pages and is illustrated thought-out in colour with 173 pictures. Full review will appear in the April magazine.

Harlequin Matches Third Edition

Harlequin Matches Third Edition 

On-line Auction success

We held our inaugural On-line Auction on Sunday 14th March and were really pleased with the way it ran. 25 members attended on-line and 8 postal bidders had also submitted bids. There was a lot of enthusiastic bidding for 30 very desirable Lots, and the results will be published in our April magazine.

Our next Auction takes place on Sunday 9th May at 14:00, and the Catalogue will be published with our April magazine.

If you would like to take part then please email us at

Award winners announced

The names of the annual Society Award winners were announced at the 2021 AGM, which was held on-line for the first time. This years winners are :

  • The Tony Gallaher Memorial Award for the Best Article published in the Society magazine in the previous year was awarded to : Roy Hunt for his article ‘Roy Hunt Matches 1985 – 1995’ (published in the February 2020 magazine No.437 on page 6)
  • The KC Literary Award for the Best Publication reviewed in the Society magazine in the previous year was awarded to : Alan Middleton for his book ‘North of England Match Co., West Hartlepool 1932-1954‘ (reviewed in the April 2020 magazine No.438 on page 26)

Alan’s book is available from our Shop Window.

NEMCO 1932 - 1954 by Alan Middleton
NEMCO 1932 – 1954 by Alan Middleton

How much did a box of matches cost in 1944 ?

We recently received an enquiry from an author who is working on a novel set in late 1944 where a teenager in London is trying to sell individual matches to raise some money, and asked us how much a box of matches would have cost back then. After scratching our heads for a bit we were able to provide two answers :

  1. the short answer : the price of a box of ordinary matches was retailed at 1½d in 1944
  2. the long answer : the retail price of matches was subject to price control from 31st July 1940 until 9th December 1951, and during the war only British made matches were available

Read more

We’ve joined Instagram

Our Instagram account @ukphillumeny is now up and running and shows some of our archive photos of matchboxes, labels, bookmatches and hardware.  We will be regularly posting new photos from Society archives and encourage members to follow us. We’ll be using #ukphillumeny to tag all our posts. This is our first step into Social Media, which we are convinced will allow us to make contact with new members and phillumeny enthusiasts worldwide and increase everyone’s knowledge of the fascinating world of phillumeny. You can also email us using

Instagram logo
Instagram logo

Archive – On-line Phillumeny Exhibition 2021 – all you need to know

Key details

  • When is it? The Exhibition will run from 1st October to 31st October 2021
  • What is it? The Exhibition will be a collection of phillumeny Exhibits which are held in a dedicated part of this web site. There will be an (on-line) Exhibition Catalogue, a Visitor Book, and Awards. We will run weekly guided tours (using Zoom), and there will be opportunities to talk with the Exhibitors
  • What does an Exhibit look like? Each Exhibit will consist of up to 10 images together with a title, a description of the Exhibit and a biography of the Exhibitor. Here is an example Exhibit. 
  • Is there a closing date for submitting Exhibits? Yes, the closing date was 1st September 2021
  • Is there a theme? Exhibits must be of phillumenistic material, but can be on any topic. Also, we would encourage Exhibits about “why I started collecting”
  • Is this a temporary Exhibition? Yes, it will close on 31st October 2021, but we intend to include the Award winning exhibits in a Permanent Gallery on this web site
  • Does this replace the physical Exhibitions? No, there will still be physical Exhibitions (when circumstances allow) but the On-line Exhibition could become an annual event if members like it
  • How will it be advertised? We will use the magazine, web site and Instagram to advertise the Exhibition and encourage members to use their personal networks to spread the word

How do I take part?

Visit the Society web site during October – everybody is welcome to visit the Exhibition.

Members without internet access can hopefully could use a public-access facility (e.g. a library) to view the Exhibition.

So what do I need to do now?

  • Put the dates in your diary and make sure you visit the Exhibition

We believe that this On-line Exhibition will be popular with our members, and also hope that it will attract new members to the Society. Please send any questions or suggestions to or add your comments to this Blog.

Society Bookshop is now open

After almost three years we’re pleased to announce that the Society Bookshop has now re-opened, stocking over 25 great books on all aspects of Phillumeny from individual match manufacturers to the story of entire nations. You can visit the Bookshop here and order your books on-line. The full bookshop list is also available in the August Match Label News

One of the great books in our Bookshop
One of the great books in our Bookshop

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