Pauline Entwisle (UK)

Exhibit : Bookmatches used in the world of advertising

My interest in matchbox labels began when I was eight or nine years old. My brother, aged fourteen, had a small collection of match box labels in a tin box, hidden in his cupboard. I ‘acquired the tin box’ and became a phillumenist !!

My collection grew over the years, many of the boxes were given to me by friends but mostly, I collected them from London pavements, from buses and trains and occasionally from bric-a-brac shops.

However, as I got older, although I always kept collecting, the collection was neglected and was stored away in bags, boxes and tins, they were everywhere.

I am now 89 and the match box labels are receiving attention at last.

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Bookmatches used in the world of advertising

Commonwealth Emblem label

Exhibitor : Pauline Entwisle

My Interest in matchboxes began when I was about 5 years old. My Grandad, a prolific pipe smoker, used a lot of matches. He saved the boxes for me, and with few other toys these became a favourite plaything.

I became interested in the labels, which were mostly J John Masters Army and Navy. This collection grew with a complete set of ‘Commonwealth Emblems’.

Over the years, my greatest enjoyment was in finding discarded boxes on the pavement or on the London underground railway stations, at street markets, junk shops and given to me by friends, and I received the greatest pleasure when completing a set of labels.

Later friends and family collected for me. I still have an incomplete set of Belgian Clock labels which I would love to add to.


Four advertising bookmatches from around the world, mid 20th Century

Advertising using bookmatches

My exhibit for this year’s online exhibition is neither particularly beautiful nor outstanding but I think of interest and intriguing. I have selected a number of bookmatches that illustrate the use of matches in the world of advertising, ranging from the straight forward ‘PFISTERER’S incorporated, recommends PORTIS HATS’ , Your Hat is Important, to a bookmatch promoting a fund raising campaign for DR BARNARDO’s Homes, ‘7000 children supported’ and matches produced for a single event  ‘Elect NICK NICHOLSON for ERIE COUNTY SHERIFF.


Click on an image in the gallery below to enlarge it and see the bookmatch.

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Matchboxes from Bangladesh

Nirapod Deshlai, 1980s

Exhibitor : Shakil Huq

Here I am showing some rare matchboxes of Bangladesh, which are absolutely hard to find in Bangladesh. All the matchboxes are wooden.

At one time there were many match factories in Bangladesh from where many colourful matches were made. In my childhood I saw those colourful matches. Unfortunately I didn’t collect matches back then. Very sorry now. As far as I know there were no significant matchbox collectors in Bangladesh in the past. Due to which matchbox never gained popularity and is neglected in this country. 

Dada Match Factory

But a very beautiful match has been created in this country. Dada Match Factory was one of the many match factories in Bangladesh, and was established at the Rupsha industrial area in the port city of Khulna in 1956, next to the Rupsha river.  Dada Match even had a partnership with the world famous Swedish Match. It shut down in 2010 after being hit by a serious financial crisis. The factory used 400 permanent and 1,000 part-time workers who were not paid when the factory closed. Boxes from Dada are very hard to find.

Dhaka Match Factory

The Dhaka Match Factory was a subsidiary of Dada, and was located in the capital city of Dhaka. I am lucky to have some boxes from Dhaka in my collection.

Click on an image below to enlarge it and see some rare matchboxes from Dhaka Match and other Bangladesh manufacturers, together with some pictures of the now derelict Dada Match factory.

Now there are only two match factories operating in Bangladesh but year after year they produce matches of the same design with no variety. It can be said that the use of matches is decreasing in Bangladesh now. Most people use lighters.

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Shakil Huq (Bangladesh)

Exhibit : Matchboxes from Bangladesh

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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Badrul Hisham Jaafar (Malaysia)

Exhibit : The Eight Immortals of Henry Waugh & Co

I have been a collector for over 30 years. My early interest involves numismatic and philatelic items.

As a collector, I was looking for tantalizing factors of something being interesting, teasingly challenging, valuable, historically beneficial perhaps or artistically profound, with the bottom line being simply: satisfying and fun. Phillumeny satisfies all those criteria.

Some famous imported match labels of “Elephant & Cock” from Sweden by Paterson Simons & Co Ltd for use in Straits Settlements ( Straits) and Federated Malay States ( FMS) which are now Singapore and part of Peninsular Malaysia



My phillumeny collection is geographically focused towards anything Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia originated or related.


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Cats and Dogs

A cat matchbox label and a Dog matchbox

Exhibitor : Holly Harris

I am 15 and have been collecting domesticated cat and dog match material for quite a few years. Thank you for looking at my exhibit. I have enjoyed doing some research and sharing some of my collection with you. 


The domestic cat (Felis Catus) can either be a house cat, a farm cat or a feral cat; the latter ranges freely and avoids human contact. Domestic cats are valued by humans for companionship and therapy

  • The global cat population is estimated at circa 400 million and includes all feral cats, strays, and pets. Based on 2012 data there were around 95.6 million domestic cats in America, 66.5 million in the European Union (with 18m in Russia, 11.4m in France and 8.5 million in the UK). 
  • Other statistics from 2006 show China with the second largest cat population in their homes at 53.1 million. Brazil is the country from South America with the largest cat population being at 12.5 million and Japan has 7.3 million cats living with humans.
Chinese labels with cats



On the left is my favourite set of labels, 10 very cute playful looking cats from China. The decorative diagonal corner hinges give the impression that the labels are not complete, but they are.

Set of 18 cat labels from Cornish Match Company, average 48 sticks



I have three different versions of the set on the right. Two sets were made in Finland for the Cornish Match Company, England. One set Average Contents 45 sticks and the other 48 sticks, and a third set again made in Finland exclusively for the Duchy Match Co (again 48 sticks).




The dog (Canis Familiaris) is a domesticated descendant of the wolf. The dog was the first species to be domesticated, by hunter–gatherers over 15,000 years ago, before the development of agriculture. 

The dog has been selectively bred over millennia for various behaviours, sensory capabilities, and physical attributes. Dog breeds vary widely in shape, size, and colour. They perform many roles for humans, such as huntingherdingpulling loadsprotectionassisting police and the militarycompanionshiptherapy, and aiding disabled people.

Over the millennia, dogs became uniquely adapted to human behaviour, and the human-canine bond has been a topic of frequent study. This influence on human society has led to the nickname of “man’s best friend“.

Cellophaned presentation pack of matchboxes depicting dogs

On the right is a cellophaned Spanish pack of Dog match boxes produced by Fosforera Española. Depicting the fastest dog breed top right (the greyhound). There are 40 different dogs in the full set which was first issued in 1960.

  • Over 470 million dogs are kept as pets around the world. The fastest growing dog population in the world can be found in India. The USA is number one for Both Dogs and Cat ownership. Brazil is number 2 for Dogs, number 4 for Cats. The growing middle class in Brazil most likely contributes to the exploding popularity of pet ownership in recent decades. China is number 3 for Dogs and number 2 for Cats. The pet industry in China has grown a whopping 2000% in the past decade.
  • Interesting fact France has 17 dogs per 100 people, one of the highest ratios in the world, and a dog population of about 7.4 million. 40% of the French people claim to love their dogs like human family members
  • There are many dog breeds, unknown in number due to cross breeds, leading to a massive range of large and small.
  • An Old English mastiff called Zorba weighed in at a record breaking massive 343 lbs and length of 8ft 3inches nose to tail. The tallest dog ever recorded was a Great Dane at a height of 44 inches from the ground to the withers. The fastest dog of course is the Greyhound with a top speed of 45 mph
  • The Chihuahua is the smallest dog breed in the world, weighing between 4 to 6 pounds with a height of between 6 to 10 inches.

Below are 3 label sets from the former country of Yugoslavia on different coloured paper (green, pink and yellow) and I also have brown, orange, blue, white and cream. Click on an image to enlarge it and see the sets.

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Peter Pålsson (Sweden)

Exhibit : Treasure Hunting from A to Z

Hello, my name is Peter Pålsson and I collect matchbox labels and boxes from Sweden. Today I am just over 50 years old and my interest in match labels started already in junior high school almost 40 years ago.

One day when I visited a small antique shop to possibly find some coins for my newly started coin collection I instead found lots of colourful labels with animals, cars, flowers and more that turned out to be matchbox labels, the first labels I had seen up to that point. As a young student, my wallet was thin so I only bought a few that time but as soon as I had some money left over I visited the shop and in the end all the labels were mine.

For several years, the labels were left lying around (around 200 which I thought was an incredibly large collection) until by chance I came into contact with a collector in my own hometown Trollhättan. He showed me his collection and told me how big the Swedish match industry had been, and on that day I became a Phillumenist. In Croydon a few years later, I got to meet several collectors with whom I am today good friends, and I had the opportunity to buy labels that I had only seen in Arne Tejder’s catalog.

1840 wooden matchbox from Malmö, 66 × 41 × 19mm

The oldest box in my collection was made in Malmö around 1840.

In Sweden there is no pure match association but only the Nordstjärnan where you can collect everything, for me it felt a bit wrong, so in order for new and old Phillumenists around the world to be able to show off, ask questions, give answers or just see nice objects, I created a group on Facebook which I called Svenska Phillumenister and today it not only has an incredible amount of knowledge through its members but has also expanded to collectors of all of Scandinavia.

You can see lots of photos of my collection on my Instagram page



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Treasure Hunting from A to Z

Swedish Match Factories A to E

Exhibitor : Peter Pålsson

Hi, my name is Peter Pålsson and I am a phillumenist from Sweden.

For almost 40 years I have collected older Swedish matchboxes and labels and one of the best things I know is to be able to add a new factory to my collection, so my theme will therefore be to show labels and boxes from all the different Swedish factories in my collection starting from the letter “A”.

The Swedish Match Industry is one of the oldest in the world, beginning in 1836. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was the biggest producer of matches and matchboxes in the world, with over 50 factories working at its height. Like many industries it went through a period of consolidation in the 20th century, but Swedish Match is still the world’s premier manufacturer.

Liköping is a city that a large part of my family comes from and in Croydon in 1995 I was able to pick up lots of the labels that I have today in my favourite factory, Lidköping’s match factory. Another city that also means a lot to me is Hudiksvall as my wife comes from there and the joy of being able to buy a sheet from there a few years ago was total as I believe that this sheet is the only one of its kind in the world.

Click on an image in the gallery below to see more factories and the unique sheet from Hudiksvall.

For those of you who are wondering, the dimensions of a normal box label are approximately 50 x 30 mm and the karduse boxes I show around 110 x 110 mm, the sheet from Hudikvall is 160 x 210 mm. When you then go up to package formats and larger, there is almost an infinite number of formats.

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Mike Tree (UK)

Exhibit : Top Hats

I was born in 1954 at Boston in Lincolnshire  and have been collecting matchboxes & labels since the early 1960’s, when my Grandfather took me on walks around the local seaport – Boston Dock. This was instrumental in introducing me to matchboxes which were very often given to me (as presents) from crews on the visiting coasters.  The many and varied nationalities were indeed a good source and in particular the Russian and Dutch ships proved to be a prolific supply of new items.

One such fleet worthy of mention is that of the Geest North Sea Line, where a group of 5 sister vessels made weekly calls into the Port, and this resulted in numerous bags and boxes of matchboxes being collected for my ever growing collection.

Having been invited onboard on several occasions this culminated in sea voyages to Holland and spending holidays with families in the Rotterdam area. Needless to say my collection of Dutch items increased significantly during the 1960’s decade.

In the following years my collection has now increased significantly to include worldwide labels and skillets and continues to grow month by month.  I  have a keen interest in Dutch issues together with Belgian, Australian, Russian, UK market such as Cornish Match, Matchmakers, Bryant and May, England’s Glory and really any other appealing origins.

I recall these are 2 of the earliest Russian labels given to me from a visiting coaster
I recall these are 2 of the earliest Russian labels given to me from a visiting coaster
Examples of the first Dutch labels
Examples of the first Dutch labels which had me wondering how many there may be in this set, especially as numbering bearing A, B, C, D & E prefixes were being acquired!
Another Russian treasure
Another Russian treasure acquired and followed by other images in the set










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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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Anthony’s garage

My matchstick garage

Exhibitor : Anthony Harris

Welcome to my Matchstick garage (Bryant & May Woodcraft kit, distributed in the 1980’s, but put together more recently). To give you an idea of the size of my garage the double doors are 4.5cms high.

It is Friday today and it will be a busy day. Please join me for this day in my life.

My employees

I am the garage proprietor and I have three employees :

  • Bradley (or Wiggo to those who know him well) who cycles into work, sometimes on a penny farthing), sometimes on his Tour de France racer. He has been with me the longest
  • Next is Phillip (we call him Prince), who commutes to the garage in his carriage
  • And then there is the new apprentice Chip (Chocolate Chip for his full name), who is dropped off this morning by his ‘Mother’ in her Cookies van
Motor Match tin, 130 x 54 x 42 mm

As I mentioned we all have a busy day ahead.

The four of us are in the garage this morning and then off to a racing circuit this afternoon and then the rest of the weekend providing mechanic support.

I need to get a motor on and ensure I and the team perform in all conditions.

Friday’s jobs

I wish to show you some of the jobs which I and the team need to be complete at the garage this morning.

Some of today’s jobs

They are unusual quirky matchbook shaped items that appeal to me :

  • A traction engine which is only depicted on the front. On the back it advises it belongs to Poldark Mining Ltd, Wendron Tin Mine, Helston, Cornwall. This engine manufactured by the Cornish Match Co Ltd Japan, with a surprisingly low carrying load of only 6 Matches. – The traction engine requires a timing chain adjustment. Measures 17cm’s to the top of the chimney.
  • A vintage Opel (double sided)- the German owner has asked for ABS to be fitted! “Unser neuer opel Betrieb Manfred Petsche Ganserndorf Wiener Strasser” – this car comes from the new Opel Company that has opened in Wiener Street, Ganserndorf. Contains 10 matches.
  • A Lucky Strike Motorcycle (again double-sided) which needs a full service ahead of being collected later in the morning. Contains 20 matches and is unmarked.
More jobs
  • A Mercedes Benz Unimog UX 100 which a smiling Chip is recharging the air conditioning on. Empty of contents and no other marks. Chip is standing and is 8.2cm’s tall
  • A Family car needing an MOT. Completely empty and un-marked.
  • A Motorhome which is 9.3cm’s long needs new tyres. It Contains 10 matches and again is un-marked.
  • And lastly a Hillman Super Imp. It advises on its boot that it is “Britains brightest light car, on the inside it suggests it is “a striking success” and contains 20 black matches. The Imp requires a new radiator and some antifreeze.
Two Trucks

Two Trucks (which are match book containers) have arrived in time with the parts and accessories that we need to complete this morning’s jobs.

  • The 10-wheeler Megatruck Ruan has an articulated cab. The trailer has a match book door back and front. Overall length is 23 cm’s and at 7.5cm’s height it only just went under the local bridge. Manufactured by Universal Match, St Louis.
  • The Inter-monde van has a back door through which 4 of the original 6 sovereign matchbooks are still loaded. Delivery depots are detailed on both sides and include 3 Belgium cities of Bruxelles, Anvers and Zaventem. Identical in size and shape to the Cookies van.  Whilst not marked I suspect because of its identical shape to the Cookie van, it was also manufactured by Universal Match

The deliveries thankfully included the anti-freeze (or Ethylene Glycol) from Shell. The can is plastic capped, made in Holland and is 5.5 cm’s tall and a diameter of 3.8 cm’s. More than enough to fill the Super Imp. Now time for a brew, the biscuits are in this Ian Logan Associates Limited Queens Silver Jubilee 1977 bus tin (the tin was based on an original design of Huntley and Palmers produced in the early 1900’s.). Tea drunk and empty mugs placed on the tray ready for washing up. The tray shows Bryant & May advertising on the side of a tram and is otherwise unmarked with a diameter of 30.5 cm’s and depth of 2.5 cm’s.

U-Haul bookmatch container

U-Haul (also trade-marked as Mom’s Attic), claims to be the “Number one family mover” send their “Van that rides on air” to pick up the Lucky Strike Motorbike. The service has been completed in time.

Payment can be made through the slot in the roof now that all the U-Haul matchbooks have been removed. The back and the front both open. Manufactured by U Haul in 1988. 21 cm’s long.

It is now the end of the morning, and I am delighted that we have got all the work done.

Saturday, getting ready for race day

I have hooked up the caravan to my time travelling car (gripping stuff!) and we are all off to an American racing circuit where we are on duty as race mechanics for the Smokin’ Joe’s race team.

Car grip and caravan matchbox

The Caravan came “with the compliments of Sprite Caravans, it contains 10 yellow headed matches and is marked as a Finnovision made in Finland. The car is marked on the spine “Safety Matches Smoke Stone Co Ltd Made in Japan”. On the reverse is the question “Will Your Car start Tomorrow?” I hope it does! Standard size 6 x 4 2 cm’s, but big enough to tow the caravan safely!


Smokin’ Joe’s is a US (Headquarters in New York) Tobacco and Cigar Brand that also operates trading posts and a chain of smoking stores. They have brought two vehicle transporters to the race circuit.

  1. The rectangular vehicle transporter pictured below carries a motorbike on the front side, two different racing cars and a dragster on the other sides. This container was made under 1994 copyright by the R J Reynolds Tobacco Co. Within the container is a VIP pass, a catalog of available Smokin’ Joe’s merchandise, information on the health risks of smoking and at the bottom of the picture a notification that there are 50 different match books to collect. The dimensions of the tin are 19 x 11.3 x 6 cm’s.
  2. The second Smokin’ Joe’s Road transporter is cylindrical shaped. It has an insert lid, then another proper lid. It measures 8.6 tall and has a diameter of 11.3 cm’s

The team has an unbelievable line-up of Drivers, Nascar’s (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’s) finest, comprising (match books of) all the Winston Cup Winners from 1971 to 1994, and two of the greatest of all time, namely Dale Earnhardt senior and Richard Petty who each won the Winston Cup annual series 7 times. The tin has the same dimensions as the Smokin’ Joe’s rectangular transporter tin, 19 x 11.3 x 6 cm’s.

Three Cars chocolate matches

What a performance the drivers put on with some great qualifying lap times achieved, all going so well ahead of racing tomorrow, so time to celebrate with some bubbly and chocolate (lots to go around from this box which measures 7.3 x 6.2 x 1.8 cm’s)! 

What a great day. Time to go to sleep in the caravan. Thank you for visiting the garage and joining me racing. I hope we can do it all again soon.

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Anthony Harris (UK)

Exhibit : Anthony’s Garage

I am Anthony Harris, age 21 and have been collecting Road Transport match related items for over 10 years. All the phillumenists I have met have been supportive and I am particularly grateful to the encouragement and ongoing ‘gifts’ toward my collection that I receive from Ray Gustard, Tom Gibbard and Paul Dearie and of course my dad Rupert.

I am passionate about bicycles, motor bikes and cars, in fact all transport that travels on the road. I am a fully qualified vehicle mechanic and own a track race car as well as a road car. I have gone to many of the national race circuits of the UK as a mechanic for a racing car team that has cars in the British Touring Car Championship. When not working for Audi, I am very often fixing friends cars on my dad’s drive. It often looks more like a garage than a drive.

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Masud Ahmed (Bangladesh)

Exhibit : Architecture

I’m Masud Ahmed, 55, from Bangladesh. I have been collecting match boxes and labels for the past 6 years besides my other collectable addictions. I am also a founder member of Bangladesh Matchbox Collectors Club (BMCC).

Beside my business I spend a lot of time in collecting items all around Bangladesh and the world. It is very fascinating to me to be in this hobby and to be able to share my passion with others.

I greatly enjoy sorting my collection and to make gorgeous albums to share with other like-minded collectors and for display in exhibitions.

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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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Four Dutch puzzle labels showing Architecture, from 1976 international phillumeny exhibition, 64 x 109 mm

Exhibitor : Masud Ahmed

The overall architecture of today is very different when compared with the architecture of yesteryears. Nowadays architecture has taken a minimalistic approach which can be seen everywhere from buildings to home appliances.

Architecture in the past was designed with lots of different things in mind, such as form, function, flexibility and medium. Today it seems that cost is the overriding factor.

Because of this, there are many pieces of architecture that are considered world-heritage status today because of their historical significance and their unique, elaborate designs. Their design language had something distinctive in it that cause many to still admire and study it today.

This is why I like the architecture of the past a lot, and collect matchbox labels that show it. Click on an image in the gallery below to enlarge it and see some of my Architecture matchbox labels.

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Rashel Rahman (Bangladesh)

Exhibit : Scouting in Bangladesh

I am Rashel Rahman, and I am a matchbox collector. I collect anything Scout related.

Some of my scouting items

I have been collecting for the last 25 years and am mainly a dedicated scout item collector. Right now in my collection I have about 15,000 scout items such as Badges, Scarfs, Woggles, Whistle, Compass, Belts etc.

Besides my scout collection I also have 1,000+ matchboxes and matchbooks, 20,000 stamps, 1,500 model cars, 3,000 books and 3,000+ coins.

I am general secretary of the Bangladesh Matchbox Collectors Club. Through this club we are trying to popularize matchbox collecting again in Bangladesh and the world.

I am very happy to participate in this Exhibition.

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Scouting in Bangladesh

Logo of the Bangladesh Scouts

Exhibitor : Rashel Rahman

I have been involved with scouting in Bangladesh from a very young age, and have participated in many scouting activities like seminars and camps. I am also a scout leader. Robert Baden Powell’s Scouting life always inspires me. That’s why I collect matchboxes and other things related to Scouting.

A brief history of Scouting in Bangladesh

Scouting is a movement whose work is teaching through fun. Through this, a boy or a girl becomes a good citizen. “There is immense joy to be savored by joining this movement.“, Robert Stephenson, 1907.

Although Scouting first began in the country in 1914, in April 1972 following liberation Scout leaders from all over the country met in the capital Dhaka and formed the Bangladesh Boy Scout Association. Then in June 1974 the World Organization of Scouts recognized the Bangladesh Scout Association as the 105th member. Later, in June 1978  the name of the association was changed to Bangladesh Scouts. Since 1994 the Association has also focussed on empowering girls.

Bangladesh Scouts started operations with only 56,325 members. By 2017 membership it had grown to 1,682,761 which established Bangladesh as the 5th largest country in the World Scout Organization.

In Bangladesh Scouting is progressing at its own pace. Boys and girls are becoming self-reliant through scouting – their skills are growing through education and also through pure joy.

Set of self-designed boxes celebrating Scouting, 54 x 13 x 36 mm


Commemorative matchboxes

The set of matchboxes on display was designed by me and published by the Bangladesh Matchbox Museum.

This exhibit is my tribute to Lord Baden Powell and Scouting. Thank you.


Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the commemorative matchbox.

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Top Hats

Five Top Hats, showing the size compared to a matchstick with examples of the crests

Exhibitor : Mike Tree

During a recent removal of a large Phillumeny collection from a dear deceased Member’s home, I came across a selection of 10 Crested China Ware ‘Top Hats’ which made me wonder about the history and manufacturers of these items as it seems very little data exists.

Typically with an oval design, resembling a ‘Top Hat’ they measure around 4 x 4.5 cms on the topper base with the brim being around 7 cms x 5 cms, a ribbed striker section on the base, for strike anywhere matches!

Base view with the ribbed striking surfaces and manufacturers markings

Following extensive research, it’s suggested that the general production of similar items was started during the 1880’s by the Stoke On Trent Pottery of  W H Goss to be followed by many various competing producers running through the decades culminating in an end of the craze following the Great Depression in the 1930’s.

The demand was centred around the Tourist market where it was popular craze for visitors to collect souvenirs of their holidays, with a Top Hat bearing the Civic or Heraldic Crest of the site visited being a typical example.


Top view, showing the capacity for around 100 matches

The identification of the manufacturers is somewhat awkward to establish with any certainty given the lack of markings, however, firms competing with W H Goss included Carlton, Shelley, Grafton, Savoy, Swan, Willow Art, and Arkinstall’s Arcadian ware.

One such clear base marking is ‘Gemma’ indicating the manufacturer to be the Czechoslavakian, porcelain factory of Lazarus & Rosenfield (founded in 1883) which was bought in 1885 by Franz Schmidt. 

It is therefore clear that the craze for Crested China ware had indeed attracted foreign production with Imports to supply the market demand alongside that enjoyed by the traditional Staffordshire producers.

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Mohammad Jamal Uddin (Bangladesh)

Exhibit : Bangladesh Liberation War

My name is Mohammad Jamal Uddin, I am a collector and work for a private Television channel as a news editor. I started my collection when I was seven years old, some stamps and coins from Saudi Arabs were my first collection. For the last 4 years I have been collecting matchboxes around the globe. I also collect Banknotes and coins.

I am a member of the Bangladesh Matchbox Collectors Club which is the first and only matchbox collectors club in Bangladesh. 

It’s truly fascinating collecting matchboxes. I’d like to thank BML&BS for arranging such a great exhibition for the world matchbox collectors. I am very happy to be one of the participants here. Thank you.

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Bangladesh Liberation War

Matchbox showing the Liberation of Bangladesh in 1971

Exhibitor : Mohammad Jamal Uddin

The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a country in South Asia. It is the third most populous Muslim country in the world, which had to fight hard for its independence. My exhibit tells the story of gaining independence, illustrated on a set of commemorative matchboxes.

Partition of India, 1947

After the end of British colonial rule in 1947 the Indian subcontinent was divided into two countries named India and Pakistan, and Pakistan consisted of two separate provinces : West Pakistan and East Bengal (renamed as East Pakistan in 1952).

Map showing East and West Pakistan

The Dominion of Pakistan was composed of various ethnic and linguistic groups, with East Bengal having a mainly Bengali population.

In 1948, the Government of the Dominion of Pakistan ordained that Urdu would be the sole national language in East Bengal, as part of its policy of Islamization and Arabization. It also declared that Bengali should be written in Arabic script.

This sparked extensive protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Bengal who became increasingly angry at their exploitation and oppression at the hands of the Pakistani government.


Bengali language movement, 1952

Bengali Language Movement protests

The Bengali language movement was a political movement in East Pakistan advocating the recognition of the Bengali language as an official language to be used in government affairs, education, media, currency and stamps, and to maintain its writing in the Bengali script.

Facing rising sectarian tensions and mass discontent with the new law, the government outlawed public meetings and rallies. The students of the University of Dhaka and other political activists defied the law and organised a protest on 21 February 1952. The movement reached its climax when police killed student demonstrators on that day. The deaths provoked widespread civil unrest.

After years of conflict, the central government relented and granted official status to the Bengali language in 1956.

War of Independence, 1971

The elections of 1970 were a turning point in the country’s struggle for independence. Although the Awami League won the majority, the military junta refused to hand over power. As there was no agreement the then President of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan, arrested the undisputed leader of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, late on the night of 25 March 1971, and the Pakistani army began indiscriminate attacks on Bengalis as part of Operation Searchlight. This was the start of the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Liberation Day

Independence was officially declared on 26th March 1971, but it took another 9 months to achieve liberation from Pakistan. A provisional government was formed under the leadership of Syed Nazrul Islam. Freedom fighters took up arms to liberate the country under the leadership of Ataul Gani Usmani, the commander-in-chief of the liberation war. The freedom fighters of Bangladesh fought continuously for 9 months and defeated the Pakistani forces in December 1971. Through this, the independent, sovereign state of Bangladesh was established.

Every year 26th March is celebrated as Independence Day and 16th December as Victory Day in this country. Also, 21 February (Ekushey February) is observed as Language Movement Day, a national holiday and in 1999 UNESCO declared 21 February as International Mother Language Day.

Commemorative matchboxes

A set of 10 matches has been made with images of some momentous events in the Liberation War. This historic matchbox set was created by the Bangladesh Matchbox Museum, which has been making matchboxes for matchbox collectors’ since 2015 and has so far produced more than 600 designs. It should be noted that Bangladesh Matchbox Museum Bangladesh is the first and only institution that produces matches only for collectors.

Click on an image in the gallery below to enlarge it and see the commemorative matchbox.

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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 over 7,000 matchboxes and around 10,000 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 Downer (UK)

Exhibit : A. Dellachá Matchboxes

Inspired by a friend who had just started to collect matchboxes, my collection started on the 7th April 1966, at the age of 14.

The initial collection, included matchboxes and cigarette packets. However, I soon decided to concentrate on matchboxes. Not only complete matchboxes, also the labels, bookmatch covers, match hardware, in fact any item connected to the match industry. My collection still remains a general collection, although I have a special interest in a number of subjects. These include Spanish (1840s-1950s), labels marked Foreign Made, and the brand Swan Vestas. I also have a deep interest in the older issues of countries such as Mexico, France, Italy, Cuba, and some Central & South American countries, as well as the older British matchboxes and labels.

In 1972, as part of my mechanical engineering studies at college, I was required to give a lecture to the other students. The research for this led to the discovery of the existence of the “British Matchbox Label & Booklet Society” (BML&BS), now known as the “British Matchbox Label & Bookmatch Society”, through two books written by Joan Rendell. I joined the BML&BS in October 1972 and have remained a member ever since.

My interest in phillumeny has allowed me to see some impressive collections by visiting many fellow collectors and attending meetings in a number of countries in Europe. This has enriched my life and I have gained many friends directly because of this hobby.

I have been part of the committee of the BML&BS since 1995, and from October 2006 I have been the Editor of the “Match Label News”, their magazine.

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Argentinian Beauties

Five Argentinian Beauties matchboxes, unidentified artists

Exhibitor : Fernán Pacheco

I met these beauties on a trip to Buenos Aires. It was love at first sight. It corresponds to a series of female artists of the Golden Era.  From 1880 to 1930, Argentina became a leading destination for immigrants from Europe, particularly Italy and Spain. Buenos Aires became a multicultural city that ranked itself alongside the major European capitals. During this time, the Colón Theater became one of the world’s top opera venues, and the city became the regional capital  of radiotelevisioncinema, and theater in Argentina.

They are cardboard boxes with wax matches under the Gloria brand, manufactured by the Compañía General de Fósforos de Sudamerica. The company was born around 1890 and was the product of the union of the companies Bolondo, Lavigne y Cía (1878) and A. Dellachá and Hermano (1882), the latter founded by Cayetano Dellachá, an immigrant who had directed the match factory that his brother Ambrosio owned in Moncalieri (Turin).

The boxes are complete and with an unbroken 2 1/4 cent tax stamp, something exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to find these days, hence I consider it the “jewel of my collection”.  I am pleased to exhibit this material as it represents a connection between the hobbies that I am enthusiastic about : phillumeny and philately, in particular, revenue stamps.

Nine of the boxes indicate the name of the artist, the other five do not. I estimate that the series is from the 30’s or 40’s. As I do not have much information about them, I made a trip in the past to remember these forgotten artists and thanks to the Internet I collected the following information.

Adelina Morelli


Adelina Morelli (1898-1950).  Soprano. Studied piano and graduated as a concert pianist with a gold medal. Her debut as a lyrical singer was in 1918 in the city of Montevideo singing Rigoletto.  In 1922 she made her debut at the famous Teatro Colón, where years later she was the star in the premiere of Fedra

Adhelma Falcón


Adhelma Falcón (1902 –1987) Tango singer.  She made her debut on Radio Belgrano’s “Hora Geniol” in 1931. Her beauty made her worthy of being the cover of magazines on more than one occasion.  She had a romantic relationship with the tango singer Charlo in the 1930s, a relationship that would have been interrupted when the singer met Sabina Olmos.

Pepita Muñoz


Pepita Muñoz (1899- 1984).  Actress.   She began her artistic career in the circus.  In 1934 she made her first film appearance in Under the Holy Federation, by Daniel Tinayre. She always acted in supporting actress roles, she excelled in comedy and dramatic movies.  She participated in 41 films.  She also participated on radio, cinema, theater and television.

Maria Esther Pomar


Maria Esther Pomar (1896-1983).  Actress.  At the age of 3 she began her artistic career in the circus as a Creole singer.   She then went to the theater where she toured internationally.  During the silent period in cinematography, she stood out for her great beauty and was considered the one with “the most beautiful eyes” (until the 1930s, when she began to compete with Amelia Bence).

Isabel Marengo


Isabel Marengo (1897-1977).   She was a renowned lyrical soprano, the first to have that vocal status in her country. She lived most of her life in the town of Temperley. She carried out her musical studies at the Carlos Lopez Buchardo Conservatory and she debuted in 1926 at the Teatro Colón as Micaela in Carmen.

Olga Casares Pearson


Olga Casares Pearson (1895-1979) was an actress with a career as a theater, radio and film actress. She was born in Italy; she was brought from a very young age to Argentina. She worked on the radio with great success forming a couple with her husband Ángel Walk and in 1933 they composed the first star couple of an adventure radio drama called Yankar. 

Evita Franco


Evita Franco (1906-1999), better known as Eva Franco, was an Argentine actress who stood out in theater, film and television. She appeared in more than 200 plays and 22 films. She stood out as an exceptional actress from the beginning of 1923, when she was 16 years old, in the theater company directed by her father.

Paulina Singerman


Paulina Singerman (1911-1984) Television and theater actress.  In cinema she generally played capricious millionaires’ characters in comedies produced by Lumiton, showing a surprising talent for the genre. She participated in 10 films.  After her film career, she stood out in theater and on television until her last days. In 1981 she received a Platinum Konex Award and a Diploma of Merit for Best Comedy Actress.

Leonor Rinaldi


Leonor Rinaldi (1894-1977).  Comic actress of film, radio, theater and television. She began her career in farce and as an extra in a Philo dramatic group, making her professional debut in theater in 1918. From a very young age and due to her physical build, she always played the role of a character actress. Her stocky body, prone to obesity, which gave her an older appearance, made her generally play mother-in-law or mother even from actresses who were older than her.


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Swedish favourites

Matchbox and packet labels, Jönköping Westra Match Factory, 1909

Exhibitor : Al-Razee Anonnya

For this second 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, depicting 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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Two for the price of one

My pencil sketch of Paolo Ulian’s double match

Exhibitor : Phil Stringer

Several years ago I came across an interesting item on the internet by Italian artist Paolo Ulian, he had produced a match with a head at both ends allowing the same splint to be used a second time thus saving on wood.

One reviewer marvelled at this original idea commenting on why nobody had done it before, another’s more accurate comment noted that the idea was not a new one. Perhaps the modern trend towards conserving world resources means such a match should gain many plaudits.


Two Ducal Light Company boxes


Conserving resources was also a concern during the Second World War and the nobly named Ducal Light Co. Ltd, established in 1941, brought out their own double headed matches named “Ducal” bearing the slogan “Two For One”.




Matches with two heads

The Ducal Light Co double heads date back some 80 years but matches with two heads can be traced back to Victorian match makers who used the idea for their cigar lighting matches (typically named Vesuvians). Conserving materials may be the reason, if superior wood which would not burn through was employed, and would make particular sense where Palmer’s exotic glass stemmed “Crystal Fixed Stars” were concerned. The heads of this type of match, when finished would remain heated for a long time, this is a drawback when the match has only been used once as to place it back in the box whilst still hot could ignite the whole contents. Paolo Ulian’s box comprised a double length skillet with a normal size drawer at each end one for unused matches and one for the half used, the picture on the box denoting which end was for which, a useful idea for the old Vesuvians?

A “Raff-Link” match doubler


Back with savings made for the war effort, Lyons Ink Ltd (not to be confused with Lyons Tea) produced a device to get twice the light out of your match by splitting it down its length with a razor blade – enter the “Raff-Link” match doubler.


The idea was to use an old safety razor blade, which having lost the edge that would comfortably shave a man’s face, would still be very sharp. Many contraptions were designed for reusing old blades, craft knives an obvious choice, pencil sharpeners, even a wood plane.

Instructions for using the “Raff-Link”


The Raff-Link employs two blades secured into a head unit that slides along a central guide groove with a recess either side to cut two matches simultaneously. To be successful the matches have to be of relatively good quality, the stem of straight grain and a head that would not crumble.

Having tested it I found it works surprisingly well although the two halves are not always equally cut down the middle. To strike the half match a finger needs to support the head to prevent the stick from breaking. Here are some more pictures of the “Raff-Link”, click on an image to enlarge it.

Should you prove to be ultra thrifty you could take a Ducal Double Head slice it in the Raff-Link and end up with “Four For One”.

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Bangladesh third international virtual Matchbox and Labels Exhibition, January 2023

The Bangladesh Matchbox Collectors’ Club (BMCC) have announced that they will hold their third international virtual Matchbox and Labels Exhibition from 1st to 15th January 2023, and they are encouraging collectors to contribute. The theme for the Exhibition is : Life on matchboxes & labels.

Full details of how to participate can be found on their web site here. The last date for submissions is 20th December 2022

Archive – On-line Phillumeny Exhibition Catalogue 2022

Here is our Exhibition Catalogue. The Exhibits are listed in alphabetical order, click on a link below to access an Exhibit or read an Exhibitor’s biography. An asterisk indicates that the Exhibit is available in dual language.

Exhibit Exhibitor Country  
19th century scrapbook albums, 21st century treasure * Jesús María Bollo García Spain
25 years of Fosforera Española, 150 years of matches * José Ventura García Spain
Anthony’s Garage Anthony Harris United Kingdom
Architecture Masud Ahmed Bangladesh
Argentinian Beauties Fernán Pacheco Costa Rica
Bangladesh Liberation War Mohammad Jamal Uddin Bangladesh
Bell and Black Hardware David Figg Australia
Blue Cross brand, made in England Pat Stevens United Kingdom
Bookmatches used in the world of Advertising Pauline Entwisle United Kingdom
Cats and Dogs Holly Harris United Kingdom
Children playing games * Takeshi Yokomizo Japan
Distilling the essence of a country onto a label Ian Macilwain United Kingdom
European match holders Hans Everink Netherlands
Hinemoa and Tutanekai – a Maori love story Jerry Bell Australia
Holbrook bookmatches, Australia Chris Hime Australia
Matchboxes from Bangladesh Shakil Huq Bangladesh
Matchorama Aristocrat, by Universal Match Derek Judd United Kingdom
Merwanjee Nanabhoy Mehta Simon Blackman United Kingdom
My great grandfather met Queen Victoria Middleton Family United Kingdom
Porcelain Matchstrikers by Conta and Boehme Alan Downer United Kingdom
Postcards from Bryant and May Rupert Harris United Kingdom
Scheinost cylindrical boxes Vladimír Steiner Czech Republic
Scouting in Bangladesh Rashel Rahman Bangladesh
Sir Adamjee – From a Match Trader to a Nation Builder Badrul Hisham Jaafar Malaysia
Surcharges on Portuguese Matchboxes * Joel Viana de Lemos Portugal
Swedish favourites Al-Razee Anonnya Bangladesh
Three Stars in the Icelandic night sky Gísli Jóhann Sigurðsson Iceland
Top Hats Mike Tree United Kingdom
Treasure Hunting from A to Z Peter Pålsson Sweden
Two Cornish Pennies  Mike Pryor United Kingdom
Two For The Price Of One Phil Stringer United Kingdom


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