An eclectic mix

Exhibitor : Phil Stringer

From the early beginnings of the match industry the labels applied to boxes have depicted a wide variety of topics, those of a purely typographic design but many depicting pictorial images or interpretations of animal, vegetable and mineral subjects, in fact just about anything you can think of. However the match and its box have become iconic images of their own and can be found to be represented in many products both practical and whimsical. Here is a mere sample of some I have come across.

 

Fuel lighters
Fuel lighters

Fuel lighters:- From the top; a wooden match with plastic head, eighteen inches in length the head is removed to reveal a disposable lighter concealed inside. The “Big Match Lighter” thirteen and a half inches long seen below its box and to the left below that, are two gas lighters operated by electric switches, to the right another gas lighter worked by thumbing the head back (see inset). At the bottom of the page is the “Ever-Light” here the head unscrews to withdraw a petrol retaining tube with a steel plate designed to be drawn across the pyrite striker in the stem (see inset) this system is often found under the title of “The Permanent Match”.

Ceramic bar match, 335 mm long, stem 41 mm square
Ceramic bar match, 335 mm long, stem 41 mm square

Bar ware:- A large ceramic match measuring thirteen inches, inscribed “MADRIGAL STONEWARE MADE IN ENGLAND” on the base. These are generally described as match strikers where the matches would be sitting loose in the trough for customers to take and strike against the rough body of the piece.

 

Useful implements
Useful implements

Useful implements:- Top and below; plastic pens where the head is removed to reveal the ballpoint nib. Third down; similar to above but a pencil. Bottom; a box of matches where the heads are rubber erasers. Right; ball point pens in an oversized bookmatch cover.

 

Consumables
Consumables

Consumables:- Top left; a miniature whiskey bottle made for a matchbox sized container. Right; chilli samples from a modern range of different novelty food samples. Bottom; two different Bryant & May small size boxes with Ark labels produced for Maynards.

 

 

Whimsical and practical
Whimsical and practical

Whimsical and practical:- Top left; One from a series of plastic scenes made to be inserted into what are genuine England’s Glory boxes with a label added to the side panel (see inset). Below; a music box in a matchbox. Right; two plastic matchbox pencil sharpeners.

 

Miniature book, 58 x 41 x 20 mm
Miniature book, 58 x 41 x 20 mm

Miniature book:- An illustrated copy of Robinson Crusoe the size and design of a Bryant & May Ark box on the cover.

 

Trick box, 80 x 50 x 16 mm
Trick box, 80 x 50 x 16 mm

Trick box:- A box where the bottom side has a compartment where a coin could be concealed with a nice label that could pass for the genuine item.

 

Calculators
Calculators

Calculators:- Two diminutive pocket calculators one as a bookmatch and one as a matchbox.

 

Various
Various

Various:- A sponge, a tin, a patch, and a metal match that may have been given as a token to a couple.

 

 

Stationery
Stationery

Stationery:- Top left; notebook, below; plain paper pad, centre; and inset bookmatch style memo pad, right; matchbox label card set.

 

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Australian logo series

Black & White cigarettes, logo series covers
Black & White cigarettes, logo series covers

Exhibitor : Chris Hime

Vera Robertson, an esteemed late member of the Phillumeny Club of South Australia, got me interested in collecting these items. The series is defined as a skillet or bookmatch having a logo or symbol printed on a range of booklets on one panel of exact design with a business name on the other panel.

Another noted late member, Joe Dulf, encouraged me to turn a list I compiled to note the items I had in my collection into a full catalogue on these series. This turned into a daunting task as I never realised how many series there were. Interest was seeded by many members with lists being supplied to me.

The catalogue grew to over 150 series with over 15,000 items. Items are still being found today.

Here are a few pages from my album showing some of my Australian Logo Series, click on an image below to enlarge it.

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Australian match industry

Two modern Australian labels
Two modern Australian labels

Exhibitor David Figg

Like most countries, Australia was home to numerous match factories with four of the mainland states laying claim to at least one factory. The State of Victoria had the most factories and was the seat of our first Federal Parliament in 1901 until it moved to Canberra in 1927. Unfortunately, today there are no match factories in Australia but our iconic Miss Redheads, born in 1946, still lives on but in Sweden.

This exhibit takes a very brief look at each of the major manufacturers and their subsidiaries including name changes and mergers showing a selection of their brands. Matchbox labels, pillbox tops, bookmatches and skillets were all produced at some stage in Australia.

Further details can be found on the first page of the display, click on an image to enlarge it.

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Beating the breeze

Exhibitor : Phil Stringer

In the past the habit of smoking was not a practice that was generally conducted indoors, smokers had to brave the elements, over the years there have been many types of windproof match designed to combat windy conditions. While the match companies provided chemical solutions to deal with this and other situations, the makers of match hardware were using their ingenuity to create designs intended specifically to help the windswept smoker.

"Stay-lit" matchbox holder, 57 x 36 x 16 mm
“Stay-lit” matchbox holder, 57 x 36 x 16 mm

 

The “Stay-litmatchbox holder employed a mechanical system that held a match clamped within the case, when the internal slide was drawn out [1a] the match would be angled down to engage the striker of the small size box held within, the motion of the box’s striker being drawn along the match head would ignite it and allow a protected flame to emerge from the eight holes located above.

 

Anti-Storm Pocket-Slide, 64 x 43 x 25 mm
Anti-Storm Pocket-Slide, 64 x 43 x 25 mm

 

The “Anti-Storm Pocket-Slide” was designed to take a regular sized matchbox, an ingenious design but the execution of lighting a cigarette was a rather convoluted process.

Inner slide
Inner slide

First an inner slide that held the matchbox was drawn out sideways to allow the drawer of the matchbox to be opened and a match retrieved [2b].

With the box now safely closed the match would be inserted into a hole on the side of the case which had a sliding mechanism running lengthways and allowed the match to be struck on the box striker.

 

With the flame protected from wind and rain the cigarette could be inserted through the hole and ignited. When fully closed up the drawer of the match box was secured and could not come open [2a]. The design was patented in 1901 by Robert Schules and C Fladerer from Bohemia (Czechoslovakia).

 

Edward VII coronation tin, 61 x 41 x 18 mm
Edward VII coronation tin, 61 x 41 x 18 mm

The Edward VII 7th coronation tin initially looks like a regular matchbox slide but is technically a vesta case as it holds the matches within its own metal drawer and has a ribbed surface on one side of the tin for striking.

The Surelight
The Surelight

When it was given to me it was described as a trick box however named on the drawer as “The Surelight” [3a] and having no obvious trick function I believe it to be another piece designed to combat windy conditions. The outer case is a typical slide with small folds over one end so that the drawer can only open in one direction.

[3b] The drawer is a double skinned affair the outer section having a cut out that allows the inner drawer to be pushed shut protecting the unused matches, this leaves the outer section open providing a wind shield for the ignited match which would be placed in the slot at the end of the drawer.

 

Bryant & May matchbox cover, 64 x 42 x 22 mm
Bryant & May matchbox cover, 64 x 42 x 22 mm

 

I wonder if the Bryant & May matchbox covers made for the soldiers in the first world war might have been used by the troops in the same manner, they may have even hid the flame from night time snipers – three cigarettes on a match anyone?

 

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Bengal matches – a colourful story

Some complete Bengal matchboxes
Some complete Bengal matchboxes

Exhibitor : Barry Sturman

This exhibit shows part of my collection of Bengal matchbox labels.  I am particularly interested in Bengal matches as they combine two of my main interests: match paraphernalia and fireworks.

Indian box with Bengal Match
Indian box with Bengal Match

Bengal Matches are a special type of pyrotechnic match that generally burn for a longer time than ordinary matches and give off a brightly coloured flame when burning. They have a wooden splint and two composition parts : one at the tip to initiate combustion, and the other adjoining the head along a long length of the splint. Bengal matches are still manufactured today that flare either green, red or silver, and most are made in India.

The labels in this exhibit are only a fraction of my Bengal match collection, which also includes skillets and empty boxes. Click on an image below to enlarge it.

Further details can be found on the first page of the display, click on an image to enlarge it.

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British railways – part 1

Exhibitor Tom Gibbard

This is the story of the railways in Britain, told through bookmatches and matchboxes. It is in two parts :

  1. Part 1 describes the period from 1900 until the railways were nationalised in 1948
  2. Part 2 about the post-nationalisation period can be found here

The story of the development of the railways up to 1948 is described on the pages in the gallery below, click on an image to enlarge it.

Click here to read about the post-nationalisation period of British railways.

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British railways – part 2

Exhibitor Tom Gibbard

This is the story of the railways in Britain, told through bookmatches and matchboxes. It is in two parts :

  1. Part 1 describes the pre-nationalisation period and can be found here
  2. Part 2 describes the period after nationalisation in 1948

The story of the development of the railways after nationalisation is described on the pages in the gallery below, click on an image to enlarge it.

Click here to read about the pre-nationalisation period of British railways. 

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Camera quality matchboxes

Exhibitor Alan Downer

A. Dellacha box (view showing the front of the matchbox)
A. Dellacha box (view showing the front of the matchbox)

This exhibit explores two interesting and rare Italian matchboxes presenting beautiful decorations on all sides. Each shows us their respective match factory on the back panel. We see the factory of A. Dellacha at Moncalieri near Turin (Northern Italy) on one box [Fig 1 – Fig 6], and L. Baschiera of Venice on the other [Fig 7 – Fig 13]. Each measures the same size 117x52x28mm approximately.

These are large boxes for use in the home, not in the pocket. The intricate artistic designs show us how fine the work of the artist was in the late 19th century, when these boxes were made, sometime after 1876 and most likely within about five years of this date.

A. Dellacha box (view showing the underside of the matchbox)
A. Dellacha box (view showing the underside of the matchbox)

We can see by the illustrations of the match factory that these were big factories. Baschiera has marked the box with the model reference “No.8” on one of the long side panel’s, and Dellacha has marked his box; “No.18”. Both boxes are also marked with the word; “Camera“, this is a reference to this style or model of box design.

 

The sliding match tray is furnished with a tab, for pulling out the match tray, cleverly punched and integral to the plain card used to make the match tray. We can see this most clearly in the photograph that shows the end of the match tray view on the Dellacha box. The end would have had a separate label pasted to it, which has gone missing from this box, but which we can see how it would have been fitted by looking at the Baschiera example. The match tray label measures 50mm wide and 26mm vertically. It folds over the top edge of the tray and then folds down into the inside of the tray end by 12mm.

A. Dellacha box (view showing a side elevation of the matchbox)
A. Dellacha box (view showing a side elevation of the matchbox)

These matchboxes are known to have been made by printing the design onto large paper sheets with multiple designs, which were then laminated onto a card backing, and lacquered (glassed) over the picture design. (Two Printer sheets, or more correctly part of two printer sheets, are also shown in this exhibit) They were then cut out, folded and pasted to form the finished matchbox outer, approximately 0.4mm thick. These outer boxes are made from two pieces, which fabricate together to make the matchbox outer.

The inner (match tray), made in one piece, was cut, folded and pasted from plain card boards approximately 0.3mm thick.

The printing technique or method used to print these matchboxes was chromolithography. Chromo means colour and the lithographic process is made up of lots of dots which can merge together to form stippling or blotchy patches in some spots.

The match label designs and the match tray end labels would have been printed on the same Printer’s sheet. The closed end of these matchboxes carried the match striking surface. On both of these boxes shown here is a small number printed in red ink, “157” on the Baschiera box and “168” on the Dellacha box. This is the print design reference. Below the view of the factory on the Baschiera box is printed; ‘Premiata fabbrica fiammiferi d’ogni qualita’ (Leading factory producing matches of all quality) and below this ‘Torino, Lit. Doyen.’ This is the mark of the lithographic Printer; Doyen of Turin. This panel, printed in black and red, forms the bottom part of the box. The beautiful colourful top and side panels were printed by another Printer. We know this because the top design has printed ‘LIT • ARMANINO • GENOVA’. This is the mark of the lithographic Printer, Armanino of Genova, which is the capital of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy today. The Dellacha box has printed below the view of the match factory; ‘STABILIMENTO DI AMBio DELLACHA IN MONCALIERI’ (Establishment of Ambrogio Dellacha in Moncalieri). The panel showing the factory view is printed in blue and does not show the name of the Printer. The beautiful colourful top and side panels again have the mark of Armanino. This mark is on the top main panel and is presented as; ‘GENOVA • LIT • ARMANINO •’. Also on the main top panel, below the picture of a woman washing a small naked boy in a water fountain, is the text; ‘UN BAGNO PER FORZA’ (A bath by force). The side panel with the mark of ‘A. DELLACHA’ illustrate two prize medals gained in ‘FILADELFIA’ (Philadelphia, U.S.A.) in 1876 and ‘VIENNA’ (Austria) in 1873.

Dellacha obtained another medal in “Milano in 1881” (Milan, Italy), and as this medal is not shown on this matchbox, it is more likely that the box was printed before that year.

Also included in the images is a plain paper mock-up of the two outer-box pieces, that illustrate the construction of the outer-box when fitted together.

Here are the images of the two Camera Quality boxes described in the text [Dellacha box Fig 1 – Fig 6] and [Baschiera box Fig 7 – Fig 13], the mock-up of the outer-box pieces [Fig 14], and two Printers sheets [Fig 15 and Fig 16]. click on an image to enlarge it.

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Cheapies

Aussie Match Company skillet and packet, 1987
Aussie Match Company skillet and packet, 1987

Exhibitor : Chris Hime

These matches started to appear in Australia in the late 1970s, undercutting the locally made Redheads matches in price but not quality, and were given the name “Cheapies“. There was also a similar range of labels and skillets issued in New Zealand. Manufactured overseas, some brands were subject to complaints and the odd recall was implemented. They were sold by smaller supermarket chains, tobacconists and discount variety stores. Not all were sold in all the states of Australia with them being mainly for sale in the Eastern states like New South Wales and Victoria.

They were issued as a single label or skillet and in sets featuring Coats of Arms of Australian cities, flowers, Australian animals, Americas Cup, cars and pictures of world cities. Some series were on sale for a longer period than others. Indonesia was a country of manufacture for most with Korea, China, Sweden and France adding to the mix.

Here are the pages from my album showing some Cheapies, click on an image below to enlarge it.

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Chuckmucks

Two Chuckmucks
Two Chuckmucks

Exhibitor : Pat Stevens

I hope that fellow phillumenists will excuse my wide interpretation of phillumeny (literal definition – lover of light) to include the ancient fire lighting devices known as Chuckmucks.

Chuckmucks come from the Himalayan region, Tibet, Mongolia and Northern China. They usually consist of an approximately rectangular leather pouch closed at the top by a flap, with a ring in the fold to suspend from a belt and a long steel with a curved edge fixed to the bottom.

Chuckmucks are used to carry the means to start a fire, using a flint and some tinder carried inside the pouch, and would be utilised either at home or as part of a nomadic life.

It has been difficult to find a date at which they started being used but following a literature search I believe they have been in use in their basic form for at least 3 centuries.

For decoration engraved plates of brass, iron or very occasionally precious metals are rivetted to the front and sometimes back of the pouch.

Below are some more images of Chuckmucks, with a ruler alongside to show their actual size. Click on an image to enlarge it. The final image is of two extremely well used examples that must have been used many thousands of times – if only they could tell their story !

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Early French matchboxes

Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, ca. 1875
Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, ca. 1875

Exhibitor : Stephane Pinaud

Click here for French language version

 

My exhibit displays French matchboxes from the 19th Century and early 20th Century, including some very beautiful and intricate boxes that have survived intact to this day.  The French match industry was one of the earliest in the world, starting around 1832. The well-known match factories of Caussemille Jne & Cie and Roche & Cie were among the world’s largest and well developed, employing exceptional graphic designers and operating extensive printing facilities. My exhibit focusses on some of the lesser known manufacturers and rarer boxes. 

Romain Mallet
Romain Mallet

 

 

These small boxes are from the factory of Romain Mallet in Bordeaux. They date from around 1870 and measure 49 x 28 x 8 mm. Mallet produced many of these small boxes containing candle matches and mainly illustrated with female nudes. 

 

Type 11D boxes, Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, 58 x 41 x 13 mm
Type 11D boxes, Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, 58 x 41 x 13 mm

 

After the establishment of the monopoly in France in 1872 and the creation of the “Compagnie Générale des allumettes Chimiques“, the first boxes were based on Caussemille designs. This is the case for type 11D boxes, shown on the right, which date from around 1875. Boxes in the first two rows use patterns from Caussemille. On the top of the first box we can see the tax stamp with value 5c. The company operated from 1873 to 1885.

Type 11D boxes were sold until the early 1940s., by which time the matches had become too expensive. The beauty of the boxes had continuously decreased, and the last illustrations were in black and white.

Large boxes, 117 x 52 x 28 mm
Large boxes, 117 x 52 x 28 mm

 

Large boxes of 500 wax matches from Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques, which changed its name to  Compagnie Générale des Allumettes Chimiques pour la France et l’étranger in 1885 and closed in 1889. We can easily imagine that the sales volume of these boxes was low.

 

Tisons boxes, 1887 - 1910, most 50 x 37 x 21 mm
Tisons boxes, 1887 – 1910, most 50 x 37 x 21 mm

 

Tisons matches were found in several countries including Sweden and Great Britain. The first Tisons were imported from Sweden in the mid-1880s before being manufactured in France from 1887 to around 1940. The size of the matches, the contents of the boxes and the selling prices evolved over time and allow the boxes to be dated. More Tisons boxes are shown in the gallery below, click on an image to enlarge it.

Advertising boxes, 1920s, 62 x 35 x 15 mm
Advertising boxes, 1920s, 62 x 35 x 15 mm

 

In the early 20th Century it became common to use matchbox labels for advertising. Match advertising in France began in 1924. These are some rare advertising boxes from the late 1920s, all for Cigarette brands except the very rare box “Engagez vous dans la marine”. The gallery below includes some larger advertising boxes (100 matches) from the 1940s which are also rare, click on an image to enlarge it.

 

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Forty years (and more) on

Wigwam brand
Wigwam brand

Exhibitor : Tom Gibbard

Editor’s note : this article first appeared in MLN in April 2003

As a very small boy one of my earliest memories is of sitting on the floor in front of the sideboard, a pseudo-Victorian piece of furniture with cupboards at floor level. These were never locked so became suitable targets for my infant investigation. In one of them was a scrapbook in which my father had mounted matchbox tops. Not only were the subjects fascinating, even looking back 55 years ‘Wigwam‘ remains stuck in the memory, but there was a smell to them, perhaps from the glue used to stick them down, the lingering effects of tobacco, or the wood of the tops themselves, for the labels had not been separated from their backing. I would sit entranced, flipping the pages and remaining quiet for perhaps five minutes.

My father
My father
British and American labels
British and American labels

The scrapbook dated from about three years earlier, when in the latter part of the war my father had noticed normal labels enhanced or disfigured with slogans ‘keep on saving fuel’, ‘waste not, want not’, and ‘loose talk costs lives’; this I learned many years later to be from the back of an American box.

He had kept them, breaking up the boxes as a matter of course and then mounted them along with tops from boxes current in 1946 and 1947. Additions were infrequent, every few months or so probably, which to my childish mind equated to eternity.

The collection grew in this way for many years. I began to add to it by negotiating with other children at primary school and all the while every item added was broken or cut up. In 1952 while convalescing from a serious bout of influenza my father decided to deal with the bookmatches. With new sheets of paper, a loose leaf album specially purchased in Aylesbury, a pair of scissors and my enthusiastic help, the two shoeboxes of bookmatches that had by then accumulated were rearranged so that all the print would be the same way up; the strikers were of course chopped off and discarded.

A mutilated gem - Prince Line
A mutilated gem – Prince Line

Mutilated Gems

A few of these mutilated gems are still in my collection today and I look longingly at a pre war Bryant & May cover for Prince Line wishing we had more knowledge. This particular bookmatch cover has been reconstituted at least twice in the last 40 years to try to display the panels in their correct order.

England's Glory label, 1956
England’s Glory label, 1956

We had graduated from scrapbooks to albums by 1952, but it was in 1956 that we took our next step forward: England’s Glory labels were collected, the jokes being separated from the rest of the label and kept separately. In that year one of them advertised a matchbox label exhibition at the Imperial Hotel, Birmingham. We went; my mother also came with little enthusiasm. However, one of my uncles was a policeman in the city and no doubt the pretext for the trip was a visit to him and his family, though I remember nothing of that.

The exhibition was a cornucopia of delights; I think my father and I would have spent the day there if allowed. We discovered other collectors who professed to be interested in swapping, we learnt that cutting up matchboxes and bookmatches was not the done thing. We learnt that labels should or could be floated from the wood. It had been advertised as an exhibition so we took no swaps with us, not I suspect that they would have been any use if we had. We were dragged away from it by my mother, who felt ill in the smoky atmosphere.

Though I believe we found there was a national society, for some reason we did not consider joining it, though on returning home the collection as it was then was modified. The cut labels were floated from the wood, but to ensure permanent damage to them all and not just to the all-round-the-box types, they were now glued down to loose leaf album pages. The one positive move was that cutting up and removing the strikers from bookmatches ceased. My father had never found these interesting and my collection of bookmatches and related material dates from this time.

USS Navy bookmatches
USS Navy bookmatches

Mini Collections

As I progressed through grammar school and then an architectural course the bookmatch collection grew. Boys make avid collectors and most of my friends put together mini collections, all but one eventually ending up with me. Even the non collectors would contribute.

When I was about 14 one boy brought two booklets for United States Navy submarines to school; USS Nautilus and Skipjack, one the first nuclear submarine, the other the first to travel beneath the North Pole. I feel embarrassment now for begrudging him the sixpence they cost me. Other activities intervened and collecting was rarely continuous but it was always there. 

In 1967 we had some further contact with the BML&BS and went to one of their London meetings. I don’t know how this came about but our name must have reached collecting circles, for we had started receiving catalogues from EHW Ltd of Sicilian Avenue, Holborn, though the only time we purchased from them the result was a packet of mint labels which did not excite us.

This was one of the Bonnington meetings; it had a very busy atmosphere, possibly because the facilities were cramped and we found it disappointing. There was no exhibition to speak of and though we came equipped to swap no one wanted to know us. What we came with wasn’t up to par. I remember leaving before lunch feeling disenchanted.

Later that year I went to work in Edinburgh and some time in 1968 my father finally joined the BML&BS. He may have gone to other London meetings in the late 1960s but I don’t recall any mention of it. Edinburgh was my first experience of life in a large city and the opportunities it offered to the match collector. They popped up in the street, were on the tables in bars and in restaurants, hotels and tobacconists. A couple of colleagues in the office turned up with collections; I accumulated a wide range of boxes and booklets including duplicates of ‘Major’ and ‘Sovereign’ booklets which had clearly been those in demand at the London meeting.

I returned south in 1969 and we tried a meeting in Brighton in the summer of 1970. I’d judged well the swapping material to aim for. I was surrounded by flies attracted to the honey pot. Generous flies too – ten for one they would give, but departed rapidly when the source had dried up.

A Major and a Sovereign bookmatch
A Major and a Sovereign bookmatch

 

It did though make me a regular at the London meetings of the 1970s. These, mainly at Sudbury House, were dominated (as far as bookmatch collectors were concerned) by a group seeking only ‘Major’ and ‘Sovereign’ covers.

There was a league table within their grouping; they even had their own club. Later it became clear they did not even belong to the BML&BS but used its meetings for their own purposes. Their insularity as collectors not only blinded or blinkered other collectors as to what might be available but limited the material that was brought to meetings and auctions.

 

Whitbread Wessex Inn, number 74
Whitbread Wessex Inn, number 74

 

In the autumn of 1973, during a visit to Southampton, I picked up a box in the street – a Whitbread Wessex public house, a numbered label (74) which was clearly one of a set. My father was more interested than I and for the next year we travelled the south of England discovering the set which amounted to 900 items (later extended to 963). He wrote to inns we could not  get to and finally when only four eluded us, one of which had evidently been demolished, to Whitbread asking if there was any chance of obtaining the other labels. These they sent to him, explaining that for one reason or another none of them had ever been available. They also congratulated him on winning their prize for being the first to collect the set. This, a tankard, was awarded at a dinner in the autumn of 1975.

He had arrived in the collecting world, but not necessarily in a very welcome way. At a Bonnington meeting in October 1975 John Luker announced the result of the competition, noting that Whitbread had not consulted the Society before awarding the prize. He observed that some members were unaware of the result and although the winner was a member of the society he knew of several others who had collected these labels seriously and might have come near to completing the set. The implication was that Whitbread had contrived the result. We knew this not to be the case for we had unsuccessfully tried to swap with the collectors he mentioned (what a contrast to half-a-dozen years before). We kept our counsel.

No more Majors and Sovereigns

For the development of bookmatch collections one of the best things that happened was when Bryant & May ceased ‘Major’ and ‘Sovereign’ production in 1979. About half the then bookmatch collectors gave up and the rest diversified. In the meantime I had continued to collect anything and everything but only deliberately trying to obtain British-related items. In the 1980s and early 1990s other interests, marriage and a family pushed collecting to a back seat – well, the passenger seat at any rate (my wife wouldn’t even accept that). Problems with space also took their toll. There were now over 300 albums; something had to go, so most of the American with a lot of the Swiss, French and German were consigned to the attic, where they remain to this day.

Specialist

The result was not to save space at all, for I became more of a specialist, learning that different card finishes and colours, different staples, tiny printing and shade variations meant almost certainly a different date of issue and an identifiable variation. The British (a term loosely connected with any item associated with British advertising) collection grew to over 90,000 and shows no sign of ever being complete. The retained and interesting items from the rest of the world mainly relating to transport and the military also expand at an alarming rate. There are now more than 10,000 American without considering other countries. Research takes almost as much time as collecting and as each new plateau of knowledge and collecting experience is reached, I wince at the thought of how much a novice I was before. However, the key to collecting at whatever levels remains the same, if you enjoy doing it, it’s worth doing.

Thomas Gibbard, 2003

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Geest Line

Matchbook covers relating to the Geest Line Banana Trades
Matchbook covers relating to the Geest Line Banana Trades

Exhibitor : Mike Tree

Ships from the Geest Line fleet can be seen on many bookmatches from the 1960’s and 70’s which which the company used as marketing material to promote their services. Geest Line is an international shipping company, which operated initially out of Holland under the name Waling van Geest. They are probably best known in the UK for the marketing of bananas, and the Atlantic Banana division was based in the UK at Spalding, Lincs.  Many of their fleet were registered in the UK at Boston, Lincs (although the ships were far too large to visit the Port) in recognition of their historical connections with the town and area.

Promotional box for Geest's Container Service
Promotional box for Geest’s Container Service
Promotional box for Geest's Container Service
Promotional box for Geest’s Container Service

My very first Geest matchbox was an unusual one, pictured to the left.

It is a promotion for the Geest Container Service and resembles a shipping container which opens to reveal the pink-tipped matches inside.

This box still fascinates me, and I smile every time I pick it up.

 

 

Matchbook covers relating to the Geest Line Banana Trades
Matchbook covers relating to the Geest Line Banana Trades
Matchbook cover produced by Bryant and May for Geest North Sea Line
Matchbook cover produced by Bryant and May for Geest North Sea Line
Matchbook cover relating to the Geest Line Banana Trades
Matchbook cover relating to the Geest Line Banana Trades

 

Some other Geest bookmatches from the 1970’s are shown on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

mv GEESTSTAR
mv GEESTSTAR, one of a pair of sisterships purpose built for the Banana trade from the Windward Islands to the UK & Europe

A set of 40 matchbox labels was produced in 1962 by Verenigde Hollandse Lucifers Fabrieken for the CO-OP organisation, showing Dutch flagships. Number 31 featured Geest’s newly built banana carrier the mv Geeststar. The image on the right shows this label superimposed over a photograph of the vessel.

As the Caribbean banana trade grew,  further larger vessels were ordered, this time under the British flag culminating in a fleet of 14 ships being delivered, over the ensuing 2 decades and trading under the Geest Line banner and registered under the ownership of Geest Industries.

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Happy 70th birthday Miss Redhead

Exhibitor : Jerry Bell

In 2016 Australia celebrated 70 years since the creation of their iconic match image, Miss Redhead. To mark the occasion, the Australian Match Cover Collectors Society created a theme for their Exhibition that year, “Happy 70th birthday, Miss Redhead”.  

This is my entry for that Exhibition, which charts the different stages in the development of the Miss Redhead image. Click on an image below to enlarge it.

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Indian tin match adverts

Indian Tin Match adverts on the door of my study
Indian Tin Match adverts on the door of my study

Exhibitor : Rosemarie van der Plank

As a young schoolboy David van der Plank originally collected postage stamps and coins. During the Second World War his elder brother served in the RAF, and on one occasion when he came home on leave he brought with him some matchboxes for David.

The collecting of matchboxes and matchbox labels became his first love.  One of the match boxes that really fascinated him was a box with the letters WIMCO India and he decided it could possibly mean the Western Indian Match Company. He wrote to the factory and expressed his interest in collecting matchbox labels and in their reply, they sent him samples of matchbox labels they produced. David’s business venture then began!  He ordered labels in bulk from WIMCO paying for them by using International Money Orders. From them he made up packs of labels. His first customers were fellow schoolboys, one of whom was Peter Campion.

Three years after our marriage David and I moved to Cornwall, he went back to his original hobby which prompted us to form the Cornish Match Company. David always had a desire to go to India, not only visit WIMCO but to discover some of the smaller match factories. We were able to do this in the early 1970s.

Together we flew to Bombay where we had a warm welcome from the directors of WIMCO.  After a few days we continued our journey and travelled by train to Sivakasi. It was an amazing experience! No white person had been there for ten years but on that visit and every subsequent visit we always were made very welcome and stayed in the homes of factory managers.

We soon discovered there were many other match factories in the surrounding area throughout Tamil Nadu, so we tried to visit as many of them as possible. The reception these factories gave us was amazing.  They were very kind and gave us gifts, some of which are the advertisements that you see here. Each one has a great memory.

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

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Italian imports to Portugal 19th century

Exhibitor : Joel Viana de Lemos

Click here for Portuguese language version

 

Before the creation of the monopoly in the manufacture of matches in 1895, Portugal imported spring flap type matchboxes from eight Italian factories:

  • Ambrogio Dellacha; Abbona & Romagna; Benvenuti & Salsiccioni; Francesco Lavaggi e F.º ; Faustino de Medici; Giacomo de Medici; L. Baschiera e C.; Luigi de Medici

The number of boxes imported between 1882 and 1895 was very significant.

The following are matchboxes imported from each of these factories and below all panels of the respective series are shown.

Matchboxes by Ambrogio Dellacha. Abbona & Romagna, Benvenuti & Salsiccioni, Francesco Lavaggi e F.º
Matchboxes by Ambrogio Dellacha. Abbona & Romagna, Benvenuti & Salsiccioni, Francesco Lavaggi e F.º
Matchboxes by Faustino de Medici, Giacomo de Medici, L. Baschiera e C. , Luigi de Medici
Matchboxes by Faustino de Medici, Giacomo de Medici, L. Baschiera e C. , Luigi de Medici

 

 

 

 

 

These factories used the following Lithographic Printers:

  • Armanino – Genova; Doyen – Torino; Dello Stabilimento – Torino; Fratelli Tensi – Milano; Amusso – Biela; Giordana & Salussolia

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Joe Camel R.I.P.

Some of the Joe Camel bookmatches I won in 2021
Some of the Joe Camel bookmatches I won in 2021

Exhibitor Keith Kendall

In March 2021 I won some Joe Camel bookmatches in the Society’s On-line Auction, and instantly became intrigued by the image they displayed, and began researching the background to the company and the Joe Camel character.

I discovered the reasons behind the campaign and decided to collect more material from the various Joe Camel advertising that was around. This Exhibit is the result of that research.

The original Joe Camel design, 1976
The original Joe Camel design, 1976

The birth of Joe Camel – 1988

In 1988, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company introduced a cartoon character, Joe Camel, to invigorate sagging U.S. sales of its flagship brand Camel cigarettes which was about to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Joe Camel was a new twist on the tobacco industry’s decades-old crusade to portray smoking as an intrinsic part of a fashionable, pleasure-filled lifestyle.

The character, based loosely on Old Joe, was originally created in 1974 by a British artist, Nicholas Price, for a French advertising campaign that subsequently appeared in other countries during that decade.

Joe Camel magazine advert
Joe Camel magazine advert

 

 

The first ads featuring Joe Camel carried the theme ”75 years and still smokin’ !”

 

Smooth Character magazine advert
Smooth Character magazine advert

The character’s appeal led Reynolds to make it the centrepiece of all Camel campaigns, under the theme ”Smooth character,” as Joe Camel and his cronies appeared on T-shirts, leather jackets and other manly trappings.

 

 

Bookmatches featuring Joe Camel soon started to appear and proved very popular. In fact the entire Joe Camel marketing campaign became a huge success.

 

Growing concerns about health – 1991

In 1991, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study revealing that more children could recognize Joe Camel than could identify Mickey Mouse or Fred Flintstone. Concerns were growing about the effect of smoking on health, especially among young people. The pressure was mounting on tobacco companies, and R. J. Reynolds in particular, to cease advertising.

Although Camel’s market share among smokers under 24 years surged from about 4% to perhaps 12% in 1992-93, and then receded to approximately 9%, Camel’s overall market share never increased more than .5% (from 4.3% to 4.8%). There is no evidence that the Joe Camel advertising increased total youth smoking, which declined between 1987 and 1992.

Joe Camel bookmatches from 1992 US election
Joe Camel bookmatches from 1992 US election

Up until 1997, R. J. Reynolds resisted all calls to end the Joe Camel campaign. Tobacco companies have always asserted that they have never targeted teenagers. Yet in the U.S., 60 percent of adults who smoke begin by age 16, and their favourite brand by far is the most heavily promoted cigarette: Marlboro. From their perspective the Joe Camel advertising campaigns had little or no effect on smoking by youths or adults, though they may have prevented a decline in the Camel brand’s market shares and perhaps modestly increased it.

The demise of Joe Camel – 1997

And so it came to pass that on 11th July 1997 that R. J. Reynolds announced the demise of Joe Camel.

The embattled ad figure and his brethren, bearing names like Buster, Max and Floyd, disappeared from all advertising. Joe Camel’s goofy grin, oversized nose and exaggerated depictions of masculine behaviour had helped Reynolds stem a decades-long sales slide for Camel by imbuing the brand with a hipper image.

The White House cheered the demise of Joe Camel, which by then appeared only in the United States. ”We must put tobacco ads like Joe Camel out of our children’s reach forever,” President Clinton said in a statement.

Bruce Reed, the President’s chief domestic policy adviser, was more succinct. ”Joe Camel is dead,” he said. ”He had it coming.”

A brief statement from Reynolds that disclosed Joe Camel would be extinguished did not mention a ban on cartoons as part of a landmark $368.5 billion settlement reached on June 20 by Reynolds and other tobacco marketers.

Here are some of the Joe Camel bookmatches from my collection, click on an image to enlarge it.

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Mandolins

Me playing my Ibanez flat-back mandolin
Me playing my Ibanez flat-back mandolin

Exhibitor : Mike Pryor

Because I have been playing the mandolin almost as long as I have been collecting matchbox labels, I have always been fascinated by representations of this wonderful instrument on labels.

Austrian packet label, 90 mm x 67 mm
Austrian packet label, 90 mm x 67 mm

The Mandolin is a small 8-stringed instrument in the Lute family, using four pairs of steel strings which are tuned at the same pitch as the violin. Two main types of mandolin exist :

  1. the Neapolitan bowl-back mandolin, which originated in Italy in the 18th Century, usually used for playing classical music
  2. the flat-back mandolin, like the one I play, which originated in the USA in the late 19th Century, usually used for playing folk musics (e.g. Bluegrass, Irish, Brazilian Choro)

 

Mandolin Orchestra, France ca. 1900
Mandolin Orchestra, France ca. 1900

Smaller than a guitar, the mandolin is part of a family of instruments including the mandola, mandocello and mandobass. In the early 20th Century mandolin orchestras became enormously popular, with dozens of people playing together in informal settings and concerts.

Swedish packet label 94 x 70 mm, Austrian box label, 35 mm x 48 mm
Swedish packet label 94 x 70 mm, Austrian box label, 35 mm x 48 mm

 

 

 

Matchbox labels depicting the mandolin can be found from many countries, though the ones I know all show the classical bowl-backed mandolin. Label designs were often copied because copyright laws were less rigorous in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

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Match striking postcards

Exhibitor : David Figg

I have long collected picture postcards on various subjects and exhibited competitively in philatelic exhibitions where I have recently been appointed an international picture postcard judge. Coupled with my interest in phillumeny, it was not long before I discovered the existence of picture postcards illustrating match factories and other subjects allied to the match industry such as novelty postcards bearing an area on the card for the striking of non-safety matches.

Although difficult to procure, the speed of acquisition can be accelerated when one surfs the internet looking at various auction sites. This exhibit concentrates specifically on the match striking novelty postcard whose heyday was the first quarter of the twentieth century. It has taken over ten years to accumulate enough postcards for this display.

Further details can be found on the first page of the display, click on an image to enlarge it. Rare or scarce cards are shown with a flaming match symbol alongside.

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Match tax stamps

Tax stamp and label, 30 x 45 mm
Tax stamp and label, 30 x 45 mm

Exhibitor : Fernán Pacheco

I am pleased to exhibit this material on match tax stamps as it represents a connection between the hobbies that I am passionate about: phillumeny and philately.

Revenue stamp collecting, especially of the excise tax stamps, is one of the least known and studied fields of philately, which has traditionally focused on postage stamps. Regarding phillumeny, match tax stamps are included as the last on the list of the “match-related collectables” in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Matches (Barry T. Sturman, K. L. Kosanke, B. J. Kosanke and Robert M. Winokur. 2020 Internet Edition), which defines them as “small paper stickers formerly attached to match boxes in some countries to indicate that the required tax had been levied”.  They are not popular but they are part of both hobbies.

I am more attracted to labels with tax stamp attached than loose stamps, since they combine the colour, design and attractiveness of the label, with the official and sober appearance of the stamps, also because it denotes a sign of use and circulation, rather than dismiss it as a label made especially for collectors.

The purpose of this exhibition is to show a bit of the variety that exists within this field of collecting, specially the different types of stamps used to collect match taxes.

Italian and Cuban boxes with tax stamps, 40 x 78 mm and 45 x 65 mm
Italian and Cuban boxes with tax stamps, 40 x 78 mm and 45 x 65 mm

Many countries around the world saw the convenience of charging a small excise tax on a box of matches. Usually the amount of tax was set in accordance with the number of matches per box even differentiating if they were local or imported.     

As with these Cuban and Italian boxes, double tax bands and stamps were used in order to reach the amount of the tax.

English tax stamp, 17 x 40 mm
English tax stamp, 17 x 40 mm

In England, although the stamp was printed ready for circulation, there was political debate that led to the Congress not approving the law in 1871, so the stamps are classified as “non emis”; a pity for the English treasury and us collectors.

 

 

Most of the stamps were attached to the box by the manufacturers themselves, who generally did so by a manual process. Being a cumbersome process, the most diverse methods were devised to collect the tax. The one that represented more security but that, due to its size, was more expensive, were the “around-the-package” tax bands called “banderoles”, which today are the most difficult to obtain, specially unbroken.

Canadian tax stamps
Canadian tax stamps

In other countries, like Canada, being more practical, the amount of the tax was printed on the label;  and in the case of imported matches, a regular documentary revenue stamp was attached to the box.

Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil tax stamps
Costa Rica, Mexico and Brazil tax stamps

In Mexico, in the matchbooks, the amount of the tax was hand stamped on the inner face or a small label was attached.

In my country, Costa Rica, back in 1947, due to the temporary shortage of tax bands, regular postage stamps were resealed with the “impuesto fosforos” overprint.

In the case of Brazil, tiny stamps were attached to the book matches.

Chinese tax stamp, 50 x 35 mm
Chinese tax stamp, 50 x 35 mm

 

There were also small tax bands that even when they did not surround the entire box, they adhered to one of their sides and broken when opened.  

French banderole, 55 x 115 x 35 mm
French banderole, 55 x 115 x 35 mm

Finally, some countries like France opted to apply banderoles on packets.

 

Costa Rica tax stamps for 100 boxes, 50 x 100mm, and regular box, 10 x 65 mm
Costa Rica tax stamps for 100 boxes, 50 x 100mm, and regular box, 10 x 65 mm

There is much to investigate and classify in this particular area of philately-phillumeny and I hope this exhibition will stimulate that process.

 

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Mr Perriman – a memory

Exhibitor : Ian Macilwain

When I was a teenager I lived in a very rural part of North East Hampshire. My father was a GP in the village. He had a patient, Mr Perriman, who was a Queen’s Messenger. His job was to take important documents from H.M. Government across the world to various capitals. On one occasion he was seen cycling home from the local railway station and questioned by a passer by “where have you come from Mr Perriman ?“ “Ulan Bator in Mongolia“ was the reply (he travelled light !)

Some Venezuela skillets, maps
Some Venezuela skillets, maps

This man began, at my father’s instigation, to bring me matchboxes from his travels. I don’t think I realised the immense privilege it was to receive these periodic packages from far corners of the world.

He was a particularly frequent traveller to Venezuela and that country is vastly overrepresented in my collection for that very reason.

Venezuela specialised in long sets : indigenous tribesmen, couples in formal dress, oil rigs, maps, and cars are sets which I have in my collection.

 

The packets fizzled out eventually as I got older and more preoccupied with exams and consequently less grateful. They had however really opened my eyes to unfamiliar parts of the world and contributed to a life long interest in other people’s cultures. The humble match box has a lot to account for.

Mr Perriman clearly specialised in South and Central America, Africa and certain parts of Asia. I’m sure he brought me some from Mongolia but I have been unable to locate them. The labels of central America were particularly colourful. 

A Mexican skillet plus tax band, La Perla factory
A Mexican skillet plus tax band, La Perla factory

I had always had a fascination with Mexico even to the point of writing to the La Central match factory for labels to which I never received a reply. When I did eventually visit in 1979 and again in 2005 I was not in a position to go scouting for labels.

I have photographed these in situ in the albums from EHW of Sicilian Avenue, High Holborn, London (anybody remember it ?) I made repeated trips to this tiny shop in the arcade in my teens. Click on an image in the Gallery below to enlarge it.

Unfortunately I lost touch with Mr Perriman many years ago when I moved away from Hampshire, but the boxes which he kindly brought me back from his travels opened my eyes to a world beyond Scottish Bluebell and nurtured my life-long interest in Phillumeny.

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My first collected items

Exhibitor : Derek Judd

My very first bookmatch, 109 x 37 mm
My very first bookmatch, 109 x 37 mm

 

This is my very first bookmatch, on the left, which I collected in Oban, Scotland, when I was on a family holiday in the late 1960’s.

 

I started collecting the matchbooks as a memento of the holiday or going to a restaurant, and have now amassed over 6,500 of the three main sizes of bookmatches made by Bryant & May.

Match safe, 114 x 41 mm
Match safe, 114 x 41 mm

 

As you can see from the picture on the right, I also collect bookmatch holders (match safes). These attracted me because they are not so common, show varied advertising and use many different materials. 

The materials that they are made of in my collection are base metals, plastic, bakelite, leather, sterling silver etc. These holders have various forms of advertising and/or pictures depicted on them. The earliest dated example is in relation to the coronation of King George VI in May 1937.

Bryant & May caddy, 130 x 51 mm
Bryant & May caddy, 130 x 51 mm

Bookmatches have been packaged in various ways and amounts to be shipped to their final destination.  The picture on the left shows a cardboard box i.e. Caddy with 100 bookmatches.  This type of packaging was also used to make a souvenir presentation box but of a smaller amount.  This was not the only material used to package matches, paper was also used.  These caddies were packaged in wooden packing cases later to become cardboard boxes. I only started collecting Caddies when these items were seen at meetings and for me they have to be complete and obviously all of the same advertising medium hence the one shown is all full of Bryant & May bookmatches advertising Bryant & May.

Here are some other “firsts” in my collection which I am very fond of.

Two cherubs
Two cherubs

 

The cherubs on the left are made of cast iron and have Bryant & May impressed upon them, and have become part of my collection of hardware.                                            

Bob Swithinbank's book
Bob Swithinbank’s book

 

These cherubs are shown in the book “Collectable Match Holders of Bryant & May” by Bob Swithenbank, which explains that they appeared in Bryant & May’s catalogue of 1894.

 

 

 

 

Solid silver Swan Vesta grip, front and back, 75mm long x 44mm wide x 15mm high
Solid silver Swan Vesta grip, front and back, 75mm long x 44mm wide x 15mm high

This Swan Vesta grip is solid silver and was made in Edinburgh in 1976 for the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977.  To my knowledge there were only six ever made plus a gold one for the Queen and I do not know the existence of the other five.  They were made to hold the matches to light certain beacons around the country.

 

Bryant and May model cars
Bryant and May model cars

Hopefully these model cars are self explanatory. They were purchased at an auction and I liked them because they were in a box and in mint condition.

 

Minton match holder
Minton match holder

This china match holder was made by Mintons c.1911-1920 advertising Swan Vestas.  The holder is divided into two small areas for the matches and the striking surface is on all 4 sides with 2 cigarette grooves.

 

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No matchbox required

Exhibitor : Phil Stringer

For many people matches are primarily associated with smoking and while the smoker was an important customer the need to create a flame used to be a household necessity, heating, lighting and cooking, even in quite recent times every home had a box of matches handy. When I would tell someone that I collected match items the frequent response was “But you don’t smoke” but like my childhood friends I collected what was free, many a discarded matchbox came from the gutter.

 

Matchette cigarette packet, 108 x 75 x 17 mm
Matchette cigarette packet, 108 x 75 x 17 mm

So what should a smoker do if he found himself without the means to light up? The Berkos Cigarette Co Ltd came up with what they considered a solution, “Matchette” cigarettes came with their own matches, flat wooden splints on a comb similar to those found in some continental bookmatches.

 

Matchette
Matchette

The company was registered in 1923 and the “Matchette” brand in 1926, marketed with the slogan “A matchless cigarette with matches” employing the dual meaning of the word match, a gimmick often seen in our hobby.

 

 

Deca self lighting cigarette, 83 x 76 x 18 mm
Deca self lighting cigarette, 83 x 76 x 18 mm

The “Deca” cigarette brand took the idea one step further by incorporating the igniting composition into the cigarette itself. Produced by the Autolight Cigarette Co in the 1960’s, it was not the first attempt to create a self lighting cigarette, this idea can be traced back at least as far as the 1920’s and as recently as 2014. Marketed with another dual meaning slogan “There is no match for a Deca” it almost did meet its match in the form of a legal battle over whether it should be charged the same excise duty as placed on matches. Because it smouldered rather than flamed the case was quashed.

Deca
Deca

 

Despite the obvious novelty of being able to show off in a crowd “look no match!” the brand never caught on, this could have been due to overwhelming competition from the established brands but was more likely due to poor performance.

 

Many who tried them at the time said that they often wouldn’t light and even if they did the cigarette would tear at the tip and end up bent or crumpled, some complained that they could taste sulphur from the igniting composition.

 

Self lighting cigarette papers, 85 x 47 x 18 mm
Self lighting cigarette papers, 85 x 47 x 18 mm

So if the stiff structure of a production cigarette couldn’t cope with the force required to light it then the idea of creating a self lighting cigarette paper would seem completely implausible: A French manufacturer, A Lejeune, didn’t think so. This packet doesn’t have the catchy wordplay promotion of the former examples shown here but does state that it only costs 15 cents and saves you having to pay 20 cents for matches.

 

Self lighting cigarette papers
Self lighting cigarette papers

There are written instructions and a pictorial diagram which advises not to have tobacco under the black striking edge and to support the end with the finger tips placing it on the red glass paper and rubbing vigorously. It contains what is described as superior healthy paper that will light in wind or rain, so it must be good for you!

 

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Ohio Blue Tip

Two Ohio Blue Tip skillets, 215 x 120 mm and 115 x 60 mm
Two Ohio Blue Tip skillets, 215 x 120 mm and 115 x 60 mm

Exhibitor : Pauline Entwisle

I have found a small number of ‘Ohio, Blue Tip Matches’, in my collection, they were made in the U.S.A. These are a few examples. They were sent to me in the mid 1950’s, when a friend moved to America, with her new American Airman husband.

I very much like the design and the vibrant colour so I picked them for the exhibition. I also like the fact that I have both the larger and smaller size, with the same design.

I know very little about any of the labels in the collection but have enjoyed adding to them over many years and they have associations to people and memories for me. I would like to know more and read the Society magazine with interest and share this interest with my family.

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

Editor’s note : The Ohio Match Company was founded in 1895 and became one of the giants of the US match industry. Blue Tip was one of its most famous trademarks. The company finally closed in 1987. The legacy of the company is celebrated by an annual 5 day Blue Tip Festival in Wadsworth, Ohio.

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Old Cornish mines

Exhibitor : Mike Pryor

The Old Cornish Mine series of matchboxes first appeared in England on 20th September 1962 and quickly became popular with the public and with matchbox collectors (phillumenists). They were produced by the Cornish Match Company of Halsetown, Cornwall.

The very first Old Cornish Mine issue
The very first Old Cornish Mine issue

 

The first box showed Rosemergy Mine and contained 36 Russian matches.

 

All the Old Cornish Mine wooden boxes were imported from USSR and the labels originated from the Latvian factories of Kometa or Baltija.

 

Over the course of the next four years many more numbered boxes were issued showing different images painted by local artists, but although the labels say “series of 50″ only 21 different illustrations were used. These illustrations appeared on small size, regular size, dozen, gross and mantelpiece size labels.

Small size box, Mitchell's Winding Engine
Small size box, Mitchell’s Winding Engine
Regular size box, Wheal Friendly
Regular size box, Wheal Friendly
Mantlepiece size box, Carn Camborne Mine
Mantlepiece size box, Carn Camborne Mine
Dozen packet label, Prince of Wales Shaft
Dozen packet label, Prince of Wales Shaft

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first series of eight regular sized boxes contained 36 matches, the second series of twenty had 35 matches and the last series of ten contained 34 matches.

The Gross packets labels are really mini works-of-art and show the paintings clearly.

Gross packet label, souvenir pack
Gross packet label, souvenir pack
Gross packet label, Fortescue's Shaft
Gross packet label, Fortescue’s Shaft
Gross packet label, Private Enterprise Label for Two Pennies
Gross packet label, Private Enterprise Label for Two Pennies
Gross packet label for Rosemergy Mine
Gross packet label for Rosemergy Mine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1966 the Cornish Match Company decided to discontinue the Old Cornish Mine labels and concentrate on other series, including the popular Cornish Wreck series. More information about all these Series can be found on my web site Old Cornish Mine Matchbox Labels.

The gallery below shows some more images of Old Cornish Mine boxes and labels, click on an image to enlarge it.

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Same label, different words

Blue border labels, 50 x 35 mm, about 1500 different names known
Blue border labels, 50 x 35 mm, about 1500 different names known

Exhibitor : Hans Everink

In The Netherlands a lot of labels were issued from the end of the 1950’s until the mid 1970’s with a same design layout. But all these labels have different names on them.

In this Exhibit I will show you the most common labels that were available, as a sample of everything that was issued at the time. Although similar label designs can be found from Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland, the labels I am Exhibiting here are not commonly known outside The Netherlands.

It is very difficult to get all these labels in your collection, as we are still discovering new labels which have not been documented.

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

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Spring loaded

Self Extinguishing Safety Match, box and spring-loaded matches, 57 x 36 x 18 mm
Self Extinguishing Safety Match, box and spring-loaded matches, 57 x 36 x 18 mm

Exhibitor : Phil Stringer

The “Self Extinguishing Safety Match” is an interesting non starter, patented 6th February 1912 by J F Hendrickson & Son of Wollaston, Massachusetts, USA.

The idea was intended as a safety feature designed to make sure that if a still burning match was discarded the spring would flick back and put the flame out. The pictorial image on the label (right) shows how to hold the spring back to strike the match, in practice this proves to be a rather difficult procedure to execute making the simple job of lighting it a clumsy affair.

The label looks to be a fully finished design but it can clearly be seen to have been mounted on top of a Swedish Vulcan label, so was this a prototype example designed to demonstrate the idea, or was the production intended to be retro fitted to existing matchbox stock? It would appear to have been a labour intensive process if not mechanised and expensive. Either way with the added cost of the springs I can’t imagine it would have ever found a market.

In later times this safety problem was addressed with a portion of the stick being infused with a flame retardant chemical.

So how would potential backers of this idea have responded ? I expect they would have said “just blow it out mate!”

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Stori Belong PNG Masis

A selection of labels from Papua New Guinea
A selection of labels from Papua New Guinea

Exhibitor : Jerry Bell

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is Australia’s nearest neighbour, at one point being only 4 miles apart. A feature of weather conditions in Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea is that it is generally so humid that normal safety matches will not strike properly, and Bryant & May Melbourne invented a unique striking surface that worked well in the tropics.

Papua New Guinea pidgin is a great form of communication : “Stori Belong PNG Masis” means “Article on Papua New Guinea Matches”.  I was fortunate to get some advertisements in this unique language to advertise their matches which could be struck in tropical conditions, which are shown in the gallery below.

Tropical Matches series, Melanesian Match Company
Tropical Matches series, Melanesian Match Company

 

 

The Melanesian Match Company was founded in Papua New Guinea in 1972, and the company was soon purchased by Bryant & May, Melbourne.

The factory was originally established by the Federal Match Company, of Sydney, also part of Bryant & May, and used Bryant & May’s unique Tropical Matches striking surfaces

The factory closed in 1992.

 

Click on an image below to enlarge it.

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The Blue Lagoon

Souvenir box from The Blue Lagoon, 85 x 148 mm
Souvenir box from The Blue Lagoon, 85 x 148 mm

Exhibitor : Gísli Jóhann Sigurðsson

The famous Blue Lagoon is actually the waste reservoir of the geothermal power plant in Svartsengi, Iceland, and therefore is not a naturally-occurring lake as many people think. Instead, it should be placed in the category of man-made geological phenomena, like, for example, the reservoirs of hydroelectric power plants. But unlike reservoirs the Blue Lagoon is constantly flowing.

The Souvenir matchbox (skillet) of The Blue Lagoon on the right was produced by the firm Sólarfilma who made postcards. They started to sell these wrapped around a box of matches like U-shaped cards. The box utilises the striking surface of the matchbox that they were attached onto. They were produced as a series showing Icelandic views, some others are also shown in the gallery below.

Since the commissioning of the Svartsengi power plant in 1976, the lagoon has grown steadily, moving further and further out into the black lava with each passing year. Due to its young age, volcanic lava is fresh and porous and surface water easily seeps down through it, so people naturally thought that the wastewater from Svartsengi would sink into the lava and disappear – but something very unexpected happened

At first, the wastewater from the power plant seeped down through the lava into the bedrock. However, the liquid is extremely rich in silicon and a large part of the silicon precipitates in the water on cooling. Thus, mud forms in the water that condenses the lava, and soon a lake began to form where the wastewater flowed into the lava. Initially, the lagoon was small and nobody thought about bathing in the hot and salty water.

It was not until late 1981 that a young Keflviker, Valur Margeirsson, began to bathe in the effluent with the permission of the CEO of Hitaveita Suðurnesja. Valur struggled with the skin disease psoriasis and decided to test whether the water would reduce the symptoms of the disease, which it did. In a conversation with a journalist, Valur called the place the Blue Lagoon and the name stuck.  Soon after these experiments, the construction of facilities at the lagoon began, which was initially intended for people with severe skin diseases.

Towards the end of the eighties the area was fenced off and changing facilities opened. Since then, the development has been stable and there is now a huge spa with hotel and restaurant operations by the lagoon. In 1999, a new swimming pool was equipped with facilities further away from the power plant itself. Today The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions, but I am not so sure they know that it is human made and not natural. 

Here are some more souvenir boxes from Iceland, click on an image to enlarge it.

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Swan Vestas – part 1, 1883 to 1959

1909 Swan Vestas label, 95 x 118 mm
1909 Swan Vestas label, 95 x 118 mm

Exhibitor : James Oxley-Brennan

This Exhibit tells the story of Swan Vestas, one of the world’s most recognisable matchbox brands, in three parts :

  1. From 1883 to 1959, the early years
  2. From 1959 to 1994, when the Swan image turned right, here
  3. From 1994 to the present day, when manufacturing moved from Britain to Sweden, here

Vesta is the Roman goddess of the Hearth, and the name “Vesta” was adopted by many match manufacturers in the 19th Century, specifically for matches with short stems which were used mainly by smokers.

Swan Vestas was first trademarked by Collard & Co, Liverpool in 1883, who later became Collard & Kendall and were taken over by Diamond Match Company in 1895. Diamond then merged with Bryant & May in 1901.

Two No. 12 labels from the Glasgow factory, 1919
Two No. 12 labels from the Glasgow factory, 1919

 

My own Swan Vestas collection starts in 1909, when Bryant & May were operating factories in London and Liverpool. They opened the Maryhill factory in Glasgow in 1919. 

No. 18 size box, with two trays
No. 18 size box, with two trays

These labels were affixed on card boxes. Bryant & May made a number of standard size boxes, and favoured the Number 12 (3 ⅛ x 1 ⅞ inches), Number 15 (6 ½ x 2 ⅛ inches) and Number 18 (6 ½ x 4 inches) size boxes for Swan. The matches were made of pine and had round stems.

 

1931 and 1938 No. 15 labels
1931 and 1938 No. 15 labels

 

 

It is interesting to see how the designs changed over time, as shown on these two No. 15 labels from the Fairfield Works, Bow from July 1931 and January 1938 respectively.

1931 and 1938 No. 15 labels
1931 and 1938 No. 15 labels

 

 

 

Of course, Bryant & May were always looking for new opportunities to sell their matches, and in 1930 created a match for female smokers known as “Dainty”.

No. 12 labels from 1940, 1941, 1945 and 1954
No. 12 labels from 1940, 1941, 1945 and 1954

 

 

Raw materials became scarce during the Second World War, and in order to conserve materials all fancy brands were withdrawn. Boxes and labels were marked “Use Matches Sparingly” to persuade the public to economise in their use of matches; this was introduced in 1941 and lasted for several years.

Bryant & May had increased the prices in 1940 : standard size boxes went up from 1d to 1½d, and Swan Vestas from 1½d to 3d.

The last significant change to occur, before the Swan changed direction in 1959, was in 1954. when the timber being used was changed from pine to poplar, and the matches became square instead of round.

 

Boxes were enclosed in dozen wrappers, then in half-gross and/or gross wrappers for shipping to the wholesalers. The gallery below shows some wrappers, click on an image to enlarge it.

For the next chapter of Swan Vestas story click here

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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