Exhibit 2022

Two Cornish Pennies

Two Pennies dozen packet label, 93 x 67 mm

Exhibitor : Mike Pryor

The Old Cornish Mine series of British matchboxes is an obsession for me. They 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 until 1966.

Most of the labels show illustrations of Cornish Tin Mines which operated in the 18th and 19th Centuries and made Cornwall the world leader in tin production. Mining in Cornwall took place from around 2150 BC (Bronze Age) until the South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall closed in 1998. In 1870 Cornwall was the premier tin mining producer in the world with over 2000 working tin mines, but in 1872 tin was discovered in Australia which led again to a collapse in the industry by the 1880s and significant emigration of Cornish miners. Demand for tin during the First World War provided some respite, but the final mine closed in 1998

Wooden matchbox with Two Pennies label


However, a few of the labels in the series do not show Tin Mines, and one of these recently captured my interest : Number 5 TWO PENNIES. It depicts two coins which were in circulation in Cornwall in 1811 and 1812.

This made me ask “why were special coins needed”, “how did they work” and “can I find one” ?


My two Cornish Pennies

My two Cornish Pennies, 35 mm diameter

Luckily, I have now purchased a couple of Cornish Pennies. One is much darker and dirtier than the other.

  • Obverse and Reverse of both coins

    The darker one looks exactly like the left hand one on the matchbox label. It says “Scorrier House. One Pound for 240 tokens. 1812” on the obverse, and “Cornish Penny” with the Fleur de Lys symbol on the reverse

  • The lighter one says “Cornish Penny. 1811” on the obverse and “For the accommodation of the County” on the reverse with a pilchard, four ingots of copper and three blocks of tin
  • both feature a Cornish engine house on the obverse and an old “horse-whim” which was used for raising ore from the pit

I believe the darker one to be a genuine coin, but suspect that the cleaner one is a reproduction from the 1970s. The Scorrier coin shows that 240 tokens were required to make One Pound (because there were twelve Pennies in One Shilling, and twenty Shillings in One Pound).

Coin shortages in the early 19th century

By the late 1700s two-thirds of the coinage in circulation was counterfeit, and Royal Mint actually shut itself down in 1786 meaning that no copper coins were struck by them between 1773 and 1821. This led to a great shortage of small change in the country, which made it very difficult for employers to pay their workers. To fill the gap many private merchants started issuing copper tokens which gained great acceptance across the country.

Portrait of Matthew Boulton by Carl Frederik von Breda, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1797 the financial crisis was severe and the Bank of England stopped redeeming its bills for gold. A contract was awarded to the industrialist Matthew Boulton (1728-1809) of Birmingham to mint copper Pennies and Twopences, which were intended to contain their face value in copper and be hard to counterfeit. His Soho Mint was the first to be powered by steam, and was where the first large copper British Pennies were struck.

However, the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) caused the price of copper and silver to rise dramatically at the start of the 19th century and Government issued coins were being melted down and used for trade. This led again to a massive increase in privately minted tokens which reached a head towards the end of 1811.

Like many businesses across the country, Cornish mine owners began striking their own coins in pure Cornish copper. Being worth nearly their face value they gained complete confidence as fair tender and became acceptable currency in the near neighbourhood. These would then be used in the local shops, pubs etc in exchange for goods or services, in a way similar to today’s credit cards. The local traders would then take the tokens to ‘Count House’ of the issuing mine where they would be exchanged for normal currency. Interestingly, Matthew Boulton owned shares in some Cornish Mines.

End of the private tokens

The issue and use of private tokens, though never actually authorised, was approved by the Government until sufficient good legal coinage could be supplied. In 1816 the Royal Mint started a massive recoinage programme, and in 1817 a Bill was passed prohibiting use of private tokens after 1st January 1818. Most of the surviving tokens were then melted down and sold for metal, hence their extreme rarity.

So I am lucky to have found some Cornish Pennies, and they now sit proudly alongside the Cornish Mine matchboxes in my collection.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Hinemoa and Tutanekai – a Maori love story

Pohutu Geyser, New Zealand, 1938 all-round-the-box Australian label
Pohutu Geyser, New Zealand, 1938 all-round-the-box Australian label 120 x 55 mm

Exhibitor : Jerry Bell

Towards the centre of the southern part of New Zealand’s North island is the township and area of Rotorua. This area is officially described as an area of geothermal activity, but this description does not really do justice to the vast pools of boiling mud bubbling away 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, all emitting continuous jets of sulphurous steam, added to which is the 30-metre-tall Pohutu geyser, which erupts many times daily. 

Photo credit: The British Library on VisualHunt



A visitor really feels awed by the elements coming up through the earth, and it is quite scary. The whole area and township always has that rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulphide.

Beside Rotorua is a large lake, Lake Rotorua, caused by a volcanic eruption 200,000 years ago. Geothermal activity can also be experienced around the lake, and the water has a greeny blue colour caused by its high sulphur content.

In the middle of the lake is an island, Mokoia Island, which is the setting for a famous Maori love story.

Hinemoa box label, made in Finland
Hinemoa box label, made in Finland 1925-30, 55 x 37 mm



A Maori love story

In a village around the shores of the lake lived a young, noble born, girl, Hinemoa, daughter of a chief. Tribal tradition decreed that the tribe would choose her husband, but no one suitable had been found.

On Mokoia Island lived four brothers, one of whom was Tutanekai. In tribal gatherings, they had caught each other’s eye, but Tutanekai was considered far too lowly born to be suitable for Hinemoa. Hinemoa’s tribe, therefore,  took all the steps they could to prevent her from seeing Tutanekai, including removing all their canoes to a secret place to ensure that they could not meet.

A rare Japanese Maori label, issued around 1930, 53 x 34mm

However, Hinemoa was not to be denied. She was a resourceful young lady, and, although she could probably not swim, she strapped some empty gourds around her to give herself buoyancy, and managed, somehow, to make it out to the island through what would have been very cold water. A hot spring enabled her to warm up when she got to the island.

She waited for Tutanekai’s servant to come to a fresh water spring nearby to replenish his water supply, and, with her face covered, seized the container and broke it. When the servant came a second time, she repeated the action. This caused an angry Tutanekai himself to come and see what was going on, and Hinemoa revealed herself to him.

Japanese label depicting the Arawa Maori
Japanese label depicting the Arawa Maori, 1915-20, 34 x 55 mm


From that day on, they were inseparable, and the tribal approval was given to their union. Mokoia Island is now uninhabited and considered sacred by the Arawa Maori.

This is a true story, and descendants of Hinemoa and Tutanekai are reputed to live in Rotorua to this day. It is also a lovely story to find behind such a plain Finnish label.


Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.


Porcelain Matchstrikers by Conta and Boehme

A pair of multicoloured Conta & Boehme porcelain matchstrikers #4248. Glazed finish.
A pair of multicoloured Conta & Boehme porcelain matchstrikers #4248. Glazed finish.

Exhibitor : Alan Downer

Friction matches were an essential item for obtaining a “light” (flame) during the second half of 19th and throughout most of the 20th century. They are small and could be dangerous if not suitably handled or stored. This led to many designs of match holder, produced in which to store them. This exhibit shows one such type, Porcelain Matchstrikers made by Conta & Boehme at their factory in Poessneck, Germany. This factory was responsible for many porcelain pieces, but my interest is in their matchstrikers.

The matchstrikers were designed to hold a quantity of strike-anywhere type matches, in common use, which could be struck on any rough surface. To be classed as a “matchstriker” they must have a ridged area onto which it was intended to light a match and a receptacle to hold matches. Some models were produced as a “pair” and some were “single”. Most have a factory mark on their base, together with a model number and in some cases a mark of the artist that painted them. Many of them are multicoloured and include a small painted flower in their design.

Some models can also be found in ‘blue and white’ and in ‘green and white’. Some models were made in various colourways and in different sizes. Some are captioned in gold, blue or black script, although the majority of the matchstrikers were not captioned. Most are highly glazed. They were highly fashionable at one time, but being of German origin fell from favour following the wars with Germany in the 20th century. Over the years many were removed from display in homes in Britain and the United States of America where they were most popular. Being made of fine white porcelain, then decorated and glazed, they can be easily damaged. The years have not been kind to many of the survivors, suffering chips, breakages and poor repairs. There are many models to be found, and a collection of them, especially in perfect condition, makes a fine display.

The front and back views of a pair of multicoloured Conta & Boehme porcelain matchstrikers #4288. Note, the painted flower in their design, receptacle for holding matches and ridged area for rubbing strike-anywhere type matches. Glazed finish.
A “single” model, caption “The Daily News” #4277. Glazed finish.






The term “Fairings” is often used for Conta & Boehme pieces. However, the term was coined for the captioned Porcelain pieces. Most of the Porcelain Matchstrikers made by Conta & Boehme are not captioned. “Fairings” are usually the earlier pieces given at fairs as prizes. I believe that the Matchstrikers were mainly later editions, probably sold mostly in shops in Britain and probably also exported to America to be sold in shops. Therefore, I do not usually refer to them as “Fairings”. This term is a bit like “go-to-beds” which is a term used later than the production of the items. A catchy, fashionable term, but not exactly a correct description.

The porcelain factory in Poessneck of Johnann Tobias Albert started to produce successful pieces in 1802, after a couple of years of experimentation. The factory was sold to Albrecht (Albert) Wilhelm Ernst Conta and Christian Gottlieb Boehme in 1814. The factory continued to produce porcelain pieces under the name “Conta & Boehme” until it closed in 1931. The production dates of Conta & Boehme Porcelain Matchstrikers is unclear, but which would be after 1850 and most likely up until the factory closed in 1931. The earlier Matchstrikers produced exhibit Victorian influence in their design.

Here are some Matchstrikers from my collection, click on an image below to enlarge it and see the Matchstrikers.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Scheinost cylindrical boxes

Two complete Scheinost boxes, late 19th century, 5 cm high x 2.5 cm diameter
Two complete Scheinost boxes, late 19th century, 5 cm high x 2.5 cm diameter

Exhibitor : Vladimír Steiner

The main focus of my collection is matchbox labels from the match factories situated in my region. Matches were first made in Czechia in the mid 19th century, and the two most successful factories were in the town of Sušice near Pilsen which were owned by Mr. Vojtěch Scheinost and Mr. Bernard Fürth respectively.

Photo credit : nezjištěn (neznámí), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


The subject of this Exhibit is boxes which Mr Scheinost made for export to Serbia, in the middle of the 19th century. The boxes are cylindrical, with labels attached around them, and are now very rare.

In the effort to strengthen the export to Serbia, Mr. Scheinost registered 11 trade marks in the years 1876-77 for labels that showed important events from the history of the Serbian nation. The upper part of the labels have writing : Narodna palidrvca (= National Matches).

Scheinost boxes were exported for many more years to Serbia and that is why more variations of this set exist.



Here are some cylindrical Scheinost labels from my collection, click on an image below to enlarge it and see the labels.

In more recent history, in 1878-79 the Balkan countries broke free from Turkish domination with help of Russia and the independent Kingdom of Serbia was founded.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Surcharges on Portuguese Matchboxes

1911 matchbox with surcharge sticker

Exhibitor : Joel Viana de Lemos

Click here for Portuguese language version


It was not until 1895 that Portuguese matchboxes displayed the selling price to the public, and this was because the government stipulated that the newly created national concessionaire Companhia Portugueza de Phosphoros (CP) did so.

1911 surcharge sticker for 2 centavos

With the establishment of the Portuguese Republic on 5th October 1910, the Portuguese currency was renamed from the Real to the Escudo. This meant that CP, and possibly some distributors/sellers, had to change the price of the labels and matchboxes they had in manufacture, distribution or storage. They used Surcharge Stickers and Surcharge Overprints to update the price on their boxes to that new currency. The Escudo was divided into 100 centavos. 


1920 matchbox with overprint of 8 centavos in blue
1920 matchbox with overprint of 8 centavos in black


In a period of strong inflation between 1918 and 1923 significant and periodic price changes were authorized, which implied the same need  to update the price of labels and matchboxes that were in manufacture, distribution or storage.


This time the factory decided to overprint the old price with figures made by steel punches using black oil ink, and the distributors/sellers stamped the boxes in blue ink using numerals made in rubber and stamp pad.


In the late 1970s and 1980s there were again high rates of inflation with consequent price increases. The two match factories then in operation in Portugal – the Sociedade Nacional de Fósforos (SNF) and the Fosforeira Portuguesa (FP) – were faced with the same problem as their predecessors, but they had to update bookmatches as well as card matchboxes (skillets), and decided to overprint the new approved price over the old one.

Since 1990 the selling price is no longer displayed on matchboxes or bookmatches in Portugal.

Here is a selection of surcharge stickers, surcharge overprints, matchboxes, bookmatches and skillets showing the range of methods used by the factories to update the prices on their stock. The Catalogue number of each item is also indicated (e.g. CP 73). Click on an image below to enlarge it.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.


Blue Cross brand, made in England

Blue Cross packet label from Nitedals in Norway, 98 x 71 mm

Exhibitor : Pat Stevens

Blue Cross is one of the most well known brands of matchboxes in the UK. This is mainly because in the 1960s and 70s many Blue Cross boxes and skillets were imported and it became all pervasive on the supermarket and tobacconist’s shelves. 

Three brands, then one

At the beginning of the 20th century three brands were being imported into the UK from the Nitedals factory in Norway : Blue Cross, Red Cross and White Cross. Matches were first manufactured in Norway in 1838, and the Nitedal factory was established in 1863.

However, by 1915 only Blue Cross was produced. Over the following years the brand became very well established and had several different nationwide promotion campaigns. 

This meant that all Blue Cross labels say “Made in Norway” – or so I thought !

You can therefore imagine my surprise when, as a young collector in the 1960s, I discovered a Blue Cross label which said “Made in England”. I couldn’t believe it, and decided to write to the company to find out more. This was in the days of writing letters by hand and posting them in a red letterbox.

The only two Blue Cross matchbox labels from England, made during WWII by J John Masters in London

Blue Cross comes to England

I received a lovely personal letter from the managing director of the importers confirming that the labels were completely genuine and explaining the circumstances in which they were produced. He told me :

  • During the second world war the production of matches in the UK was government controlled and all imports were stopped
  • Under this legislation the J John Masters factory in Barking, near London, produced two runs of Blue Cross labels in order to keep the brand alive, and both these labels say “Made in England”

I was thrilled to learn about this fascinating piece of matchbox history, and it spurred me on to continue collecting and researching. Of course. these two Blue Cross labels will always have a special place in my collection.

J John Masters stopped trading in 1975, and in 1981 Nitedals Match Co. stopped trading in London with Blue Cross imported from Sweden for a few years before stopping altogether.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Three Stars in the Icelandic night sky

Three Stars boxes on sale in Iceland today

Exhibitor : Gísli Jóhann Sigurðsson

Three Stars is a well-known brand around the world, and is still on sale here in Iceland on boxes made by Swedish Match. Over 20 years ago they made a series of skillets with text in Icelandic about nature conservation, which were very popular.

Three Stars is one of the earliest brands that I collected, and it still makes me think about the stars in the Icelandic night sky.


Orion’s Belt

School book about Astronomy

When I was a boy sitting in a dark clear winter night on the steps of my home I would gaze up at the sky in wonder. We had been given a map book at school and on the back of it was a star map with instructions on how to use it : look north, hold the book over your head so that the name of the month is read directly through the eyes, and the map will show the starry sky at 10 pm (22.00).

Orion’s Belt. Photo credit: cafuego on Visualhunt

Back then I knew the three bright stars which form Orion’s Belt by their Icelandic name Fjósakonur (Cowgirls).  As I sat on the steps, those three stars were over the peaks of the mountains beyond the fjord, and because I knew these three stars in the sky it was easy to find and learn about the stars around them using this map.

Later I learned that the three stars in Orion’s Belt are called as Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.


Summer in Iceland

In the summer here in Iceland the evenings are bright and there is no need for electric lights. On the longest day (21st June) the sun goes down almost to the sea and rises again.  The moment when it is almost down and starts to rise again is very special, and magical.

My hot tub
My summerhouse

Unfortunately there is now so much light pollution in town that you have to drive outside the city to see the stars (or in winter to see the northern lights).

Luckily I have a wonderful summerhouse in the country which I built many years ago with my two brothers in law, where we can lie in the hot tub in the evenings and search for the three stars in the sky.


Here is the set of Three Stars skillets with Icelandic text which were on sale in Iceland in the 1980s, together with examples of the same designs used in Norway and Denmark at the same time. Click on an image to enlarge it.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

19th century scrapbook albums, 21st century treasure

A page from a late 19th century scrapbook album

Exhibitor : Jesús María Bollo García

Click here for Spanish language version


When a Phillumenist comes across a 19th century scrapbook album they have in their hands a real treasure chest for two reasons : on the one hand it contains many matchbox labels that are not usually found in the shops or in auctions, and, in addition, an opportunity to spend many hours enhancing their own collections while looking through the beautiful scrapbook.

The most elaborate scrapbook albums (and therefore the real treasures) feature covers either of leather or other materials with sewn and well-bound pages, like the one below.

Who made the scrapbook albums ?

In order to understand how and why these scrapbook albums appear we need to go back to the time when they were made : a world completely different from our current one, in which there was neither light, nor leisure, nor universal free education, nor a living wage, etc. etc.

Workers at Pascasio Lizarbe’s match factory, late 19th century. Photo credit : Archivo Luis Tarazona Vallejo

We need to bear in mind that in the late 19th Century children and young people began working at a very early age and with schedules that would be considered completely unacceptable today (just look at the photos that exist, for example; of the workers of the Pascasio Lizarbe Factory, mostly young girls). A high percentage of the population was illiterate and families had few belongings, with little time to devote to leisure (in Spain the Sunday rest day wasn’t implemented until 3rd June 1904). The typical workday was 14 to 16 hours a day, which was logically not really a stimulus to devote time and money to creating a scrapbook album of matchbox labels.

My conclusion therefore is that the people who made these albums must have come from families of a medium or high status, because they needed money and they needed time for such a detailed artisan undertaking.

How were the albums made ?

There are many different examples of scrapbook albums, but they all start with large sheets of paper or card onto which the labels are glued. Sometimes the labels were laid out in order and sometimes just as they were acquired rows, like these :

But often the “Phillumenist” used their own imagination to enhance the collection by incorporating other items of common “ephemera” such as die-cut cards, prints, chocolate cards. And sometimes they would add their own pen-and-ink drawings :

The creativity, skill and attention to detail of the maker was almost limitless, as these examples show :

As you can see from the first to the last photo the treasure contained in any scrapbook album speaks for itself.

Good luck searching, and I hope you also find your own treasure.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Distilling the essence of a Country onto a label

French matchbox labels, 1970s

Exhibitor : Ian Macilwain

The appeal of matchbox label collecting for me has always been derived from the way in which different countries and cultures represent the same thing.

The style, colour, use of a particular font and level of complexity all reveal something of the national psyche condensed into an extremely small space.


Polish matchbox labels, 1970s



Choosing a subject to demonstrate this was difficult but national costume is a common theme, reflected by the French in a simple classic design and by the Poles in a colourful rhythm as if dancing.




I have many other countries in my collection but for this Exhibition I have chosen those which most appealed to me. I hope they capture your imagination as they did mine. Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the national costumes of each Country.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

My great grandfather met Queen Victoria

Blue Bobby label, from Jonkopings factory in Sweden, early 20th Century, 32 x 55 mm

Exhibitor : Middleton family

Matchbox labels with Policemen on them have always fascinated me, and recent discoveries while researching my family history help me understand why this is : our family had three generations of men who served in the London Metropolitan Police from 1870-1947 and a Great Uncle who served in the Middlesbrough Police Force from 1922-1945. They all had exemplary service records.

Albert Ferrett

One of these ancestors, my maternal great grandfather Albert Ferrett (1870-1946), enrolled in the Met. on the 13th April 1891 and was discharged to pension on the 14th January 1918 with the rank of Inspector. He was based at New Scotland Yard.

While he was serving in the Metropolitan Police he was present at three Royal events : Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, King Edward VII’s Coronation in 1902 and King George V’s Coronation in 1911.

Metropolitan Police 1897 Medal PC Ferrett, Metropolitan Police 1902 Coronation medal PC A FERRETT C.O. DIV, Metropolitan Police 1911 Coronation Medal INSP A FERRETT

I am therefore proud to say that my great grandfather not only ‘met’ Queen Victoria but he also ‘met’ Edward VII and George V – quite an honour, for which he was awarded commemorative medals by the force.


Although we can’t be certain, and to quote the well known schoolboy folk song, we like to think that Albert would have also met the Prime Minister Lloyd George during WWI carrying out his policing duties!!

Royalty matchboxes

There are many matchbox labels depicting Royalty from all around the world, but I wanted to feature labels that Albert would almost certainly have known and come across in the streets of London and which celebrate these three Royal events. Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the label.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Merwanjee Nanabhoy Mehta

Merwanjee Nanabhoy Mehta

Exhibitor : Simon Blackman

Merwanjee Nanabhoy Mehta (M. N. Mehta) was born into a parsi family on 1 October 1857. He studied in Bombay until the age of 13 when hard times fell on his family, and they were forced to move to Navsari – a town in Gujarat some 130 miles away. He and his brother Dorab continued their studies at the Sir Cowasji Jehagirji Madrasa in Navsari. When he was 17 years old, his uncle, Edulji Navroji Mehta, at the time an established businessman in China, came to Navsari from China.  Edulji was impressed with the young Merwanjee and sent him to Calcutta where he studied at St Xaviers College for a further 3 years.

After graduating he joined a small trading company at a modest salary. An ambitious man he did not remain at the firm for long. Instead, he asked his uncle Edulji to call him to China, in the hope of starting his own trading business.  In reply his uncle sent him 13 crates of gold-plated bangles worth Rs 4000. These were very popular in India at the time.  In 1879, using his own capital, he started his own business.  Initially, he imported glass bangles from the Qing empire to the Raj. His business flourished and he began to diversify his portfolio. Soon he was importing goods from Austria, Germany, Great Britain and Japan as well. With the money he made, he attempted to set up manufacturing businesses in India.

Some Mehta labels from Calcutta, 36 x 56 mm


He established a glass works in Calcutta called the M.N. Mehta Glass Works and a match-making establishment in Ooty. (Ooty also known as Ootacamund is a city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.) 

Unfortunately, the manufacturing businesses did not flourish, and he soon abandoned them, preferring to focus instead on the import trade. His success in the international trade was truly unparalleled.

In 1897 he travelled to China and set up offices in Canton. Later, in 1915 he opened offices in Kobe, Japan. By the end of the Great War his business empire stretched across the globe.


Some more Mehta labels, most 36 x 56 mm



It is also known that his connection with match manufacture did not end at Ooty. In the Indian Tariff Board investigation of the Match Industry in 1928 there is further detail of another match factory owned by M. N. Mehta. It commenced manufacture on 15 November 1925 at 80 and 104 Ultadingi Main Road in Calcutta.

Producing half and full-size boxes its output was 2,500 gross per day and was fully mechanised – equipped with the best German and Japanese equipment available at that time. Evidence was also provided in person to the Indian Tariff Board by his son Pirojshah on 7 February 1928.

The Mehta labels illustrated here are all from Calcutta. Until recently I did not even know of the existence of the Ooty (Ootacamund) factory : Mehta’s son did not mention it, and it does not appear in R.S Troup’s book “Indian Forest Memoirs, 1908”. I have never seen a label from Mehta bearing Ooty, or any other label bearing the location Ooty.

End of the family business

When Merwanjee Nanabhoy Mehta died on 14 July 1928 at the age of 71, he was one of the wealthiest men in the Raj. By that time however, the networks of international trade that had evolved since the late nineteenth century were also in the process of being radically transformed. A combination of new economic policies pushed through by local manufacturing interests such as the Birlas, with support from the powerful new nationalist politicians, and the effects of the Great Depression, led to the demise of many of the international networks of trade that businesses such as his depended on. Upon his death, his son Pirojshah inherited the massive empire, but not one that was well placed to survive in the new, more nationally oriented commercial age that was emerging. Unfortunately, Pirojshah was not able to replicate his father’s success in this rapidly changing environment and the Mehta enterprise began to collapse with remarkable speed. The massive, multinational business empire that the enterprising Merwanjee had established from scratch did not even survive a decade under Pirojshah’s stewardship. By 1935, a mere seven years after Merwanjee’s death, the entire business was finally wound up.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Postcards from Bryant and May

Large-size postcard, part of a series from holiday destinations

Exhibitor : Rupert Harris

One small part of my collection is postcards. Nothing says “wish you were here” quite as well as the good old postcard. Once a quintessential element in the travel experience, crafting a ten-line missive for the folks back home (saucy for the colleagues at work, respectful to the relatives), was as much a part of your two-week break as sunburn and sandals. Now a postcard can cost anything up to £35.

Patented in the U.S. in the mid nineteenth century, the first postcard was created for the World Fair in Chicago in 1893. In Britain it enjoyed its heyday in the 1930’s and 1940’s with the growth of the seaside holiday resorts.

Will the postcard survive the digital age? The Royal mail advises that postcards are more popular than they were a few years ago and that it is presently processing around 135 million per year. Postcards typically measure 90 x 140 mm.

The subjects are many and varied. On display here there are examples of postcards that were produced under the commission of Bryant and May to commemorate special occasions, depict Bryant and May factories, advertise a product or just endorse the company. Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the postcard – you may need a magnifying glass to see the Bryant and May advert!

Here are a few more, vertical postcards.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

25 years of Fosforera Española, 150 years of matches

The special presentation box celebrating 25 years of FESA, 380 x 280 x 40 mm

Exhibitor : José Ventura García

Click here for Spanish language version


1981 was a very important year for Fosforera Española (FESA) because they celebrated 25 years of independent production of matchboxes in Spain after 65 years of state controlled manufacture. Also, it represented 150 years since the first matches appeared in Spain.

FESA decided to commemorate this milestone in two ways :

  • by commissioning a book illustrating the extensive Spanish match industry from 1836 to the present day entitled “Siglo y medio de Fósforos” (a century and a half of matches)
  • by issuing a special presentation box containing more than 30 matchboxes with a special logo on their backs
The book “Siglo y medio de Fósforos”

150 years of matches in Spain

The first matches in Spain appeared in 1836 when Don Pedro González began making and selling matches from his factory in Barcelona. This marked the start of a great expansion of the industry, and more than 60 factories have been identified before 1892 (e.g. Lasa, Garay, Gisbert, Zaragüeta, Jauregi, etc).

In 1892 the Spanish Government needed to raise funds and decided to nationalise the match industry by passing a law on 30th June 1892 creating a state controlled monopoly. This monopoly lasted until 1956 when the Government decided to place the industry back into private ownership.

Fosforera Española was formed in 1956 by D. Ildefoso Fierro and during the next 25 years they produced many attractive series of boxes and bookmatches with illustrations by well known artists which were very successful amongst the general public.

In 1992 ownership of the industry was transferred to Swedish Match, and in 2005 the last factory operating in Spain, Alfara del Patriarca in Valencia, closed its doors for the last time

Christmas presentation box from 1972, Goya

Christmas presentation boxes

Over the years FESA produced 20 presentation boxes containing matchboxes dedicated to famous painters. These were given as gifts to members of the company administration, to local personalities, in Madrid to politicians and members of the Fierro family, and were always accompanied with a Christmas Card.

Between 500 and 1000 of these presentation boxes were made each year and there were always a few items left over which were kept for a few years.

The matchboxes themselves were made in four different factories in Spain according to their size. The presentation boxes were constructed in Madrid in the early years and later in Tarazona and Valencia.

All of the presentation boxes are beautiful and should be considered as authentic works of art. Because so few were made they are now very rare.

Lid of the 25 year anniversary presentation box

Special 25 year anniversary presentation box

The presentation box that FESA made for their 25 year anniversary is really distinctive. It contains more than 30 boxes that are reproductions of some of the most well-known series, and one with a special logo. Each box shows the original year that the series was issued.

The special logo

The matchboxes are of different sizes, including Labor No. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 32, 33. In the same way as the Christmas presentation boxes, the matchboxes were made in different factories according to their size (Tarazona made Labor 1, 2 and 7, Valencia 6, 16 (bookmatches), 32 and 33, Carabanchel or Vallverde 4 and 21).

Today you can still find empty or full presentation boxes, and individual boxes complete or as skillets, and they are always a joy to behold.

The gallery below shows some of the boxes from the 25 year anniversary. Click on an image to enlarge it and see the boxes. 

In conclusion, we can see that the year 1981 was an important one for Fosforera Española, and it offers us phillumenists a good opportunity to fondly remember those days when we look at the book and the beautiful boxes.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

European match holders

Porcelain match holders made by Herend in Hungary, 50 x 40 x 18 mm

Exhibitor : Hans Everink

In general, match holders are metal boxes in which matches were stored, provided with an abrasive surface to light the matches. A match holder is also a matchbox in a slice or grip. As matchboxes were frequently used, the wooden boxes suffered so much damage that soon they couldn’t be used anymore for striking the matches. As a cure, the box was put into a slice. There are holders not only for matchboxes but also for matchcovers (folded cardboard covers with break-off matches provided with a striking place to light the matches).

History of the match holder

The history of the match holder starts in the 19th century. When matches were invented in 1830 people immediately tried to think of how to transport these “dangerous” things. The first match holders were produced as early as 1835 and were made of wood; later iron and other materials were used. The simple match holders were made for the common people. Only the wealthy could afford expensive holders (made of silver and richly ornamented).

Types of match holder

Many different types of match holder can be found, such as Vesta cases, 3-piece boxes, trick or puzzle boxes, the candle in a box, grips, slides, holders for bookmatches, stand-alone holders and wall-mounted holders.

Here are some of my favourite match holders from my collection. Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the match holders.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Sir Adamjee – From a Match Trader to a Nation Builder

Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood (1880-1948). Photo credit : unknown author, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Exhibitor : Badrul Hisham Jaafar

This exhibit is dedicated to the match labels of a famous entrepreneur and industrialist who is one of the founding fathers of Pakistan: Sir Adamjee Haji Dawood (1880-1948).

Born in 1880 in Jetpur, Gujrat, British India of a Memon community, Sir Adamjee began his entrepreneurial venture very early in life when he was just a teenager. His real name is Adam Dawood Baig Mohammad. He was fondly called Adamjee by his mother where the suffix ‘jee’, sometimes spelled ‘ji’, denotes special affection in Gujarati family. He went to Burma (now Myanmar) in 1895 at a tender age of 15 to work as an apprentice. By the age of 18, he had begun operating his own business. In 1914, his company, Adamjee Dawood & Co was established and traded items such as rice, jute, and matches amongst others. In 1920 he built his own match factory in Rangoon which began match production by December of 1923.

This is a story of rags to riches, of mercantile to conglomerate, of a commoner to a national hero. Such a story deserves to be told and retold. As such, this exhibit intends to share part of his legacy by focusing on the match labels, a trade Sir Adamjee started off, amongst many of his joyous and arduous journey as an entrepreneur, a social visionary and philanthropist. Sir Adamjee was knighted in 1938 by the British Government due to his immense contribution to society such as his active involvement in flood relief activities and education related ventures amongst many others in British India.

The Trading Years, 1914 to 1924*

Imported brands of Adamjee’s matches from Japan.

Adamjee’s match factory

Adamjee’s match factory was reputed to be amongst the largest in Asia of its time, located in Pazundaung, Rangoon (Yangon) hired 1,400 employees mostly consist of Burmese women. His industrialization dream bears witness to a successful match manufacturing venture using German and Japan made machines. The business survived various episodes of hardship particularly the famous match trade war between Adamjee and the “match king” Ivar Kreuger of Swedish Match Company (SMC) who owned nearly 75 percent of world match trade at the time. It also survived the 1938 bloody riots of Burma and the 1942 Second World War. However, the factory was subsequently nationalized by the Burmese state in 1968.

The Manufacturing Years, 1923 to 1968*

Manufactured brands of Adamjee’s match labels from Burma (Myanmar). It was reported that Adamjee had over 2 dozen match label brand names manufactured out of his factory in Rangoon.

Please note that this is non-exhaustive of all brands traded and manufactured by Adamjee. It has taken me several years to accumulate these prized labels from all over the world and the hunt for other Adamjee’s match labels continues. Amongst those not available in this collection include Adamjee’s tiger, monkey, key, automobile, bullock cart brands and various varieties to name a few. 

These labels now bear witness to the legacy of a business conglomerate, the Adamjee Group and the man himself for his contribution in the early formative days of Pakistan as a country. A successful entrepreneur extraordinaire, Sir Adamjee is remembered as a person who helped fund the newly created Pakistan by providing “a blank cheque” secured by his personal assets during Pakistan’s critical formative years.

This is a tribute towards a personality who not only made a name in match trading and match manufacturing in Asia but also towards humanity, industrialization and social development. Sir Adamjee, a commoner turned national hero born out of a match industry.

Notes & References:

* denotes estimated years.
All information is duly obtained from exhibitor’s personal reading of related information referred to and obtained from :
I) “Colonial Burma, history and phillumeny” by Andrew Selth, 24thMay, 2016 published in the New Mandala, (www.mandala.org)
ii) “The Merchant Knight – Adamjee Haji Dawood”, by Daleara Jamasji-Hirjikaka & Yasmin Qureshi, Adamjee Foundation, 2004.
iii) “Adamjee Haji Dawood” on wikipedia.com

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Holbrook bookmatches, Australia

Label is from a salesman’s sample catalogue which shows Holbrook being located at 53 – 55 George Street, Sydney

Exhibitor : Chris Hime

Holbrook was an importer of bookmatches into Australia. The bookmatches came from the Monarch Match Company of San Jose, California. Most of the booklets made were contents 20 with only a few contents 30 or 40 and the samples in the salesman’s catalogue show ‘Made in U.S.A’ and feature American businesses.

The manumark was Holbrook, Sydney – 26 2841 Contents 20 made in U.S.A. There is also a manumark Holbrook Match – 280 Pitt – Sydney Contents 20 – Made in U.S.A. According to an article in the ‘Observer’ they were operating from this address in 1969.

Ken Holbrook, manager, was a financial member of the now defunct Sydney Phillumenists Club and attended meetings with his wife Fran.

The range of bookmatches offered was:

  • ‘Business Builder’ comprised of four colours – green, blue, red and black with silver print.
  • ‘Colorama’ comprised of ten colours – pink, beige, blue, orange, green, mauve, red, teal, yellow and old gold with black print.
  • ‘Tenorama’ comprised of the same ten colours as above but embossed with silver ink.
  • Five Glamour Girls, Safety Series, Americana Scenic Art, Illustro-Ad and Hillbillys were also offered along with metallic in silver, red, gold, bronze and green.

Here are some Holbrook bookmatches from my collection, click on an image below to enlarge it and see the bookmatches.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Bell and Black Hardware

Two early 1850s tins for Gas Camphorated Congreve Lights, 56 x 30 x 31 mm & 62 x 34 x 39 mm

Exhibitor : David Figg

Match hardware from Bell & Black, London is probably only second in terms of variety behind Bryant & May. They come in all shapes and sizes from the very tiny to the quite large. 

Samuel Alexander Bell, one of the pioneers of the English match industry, established himself in 1839 however he did not appear in the London Directory until the 1848 issue when the business was styled Samuel Alexander Bell & Company and was trading at 15 Bow Lane, Cheapside, London and also at Stratford.

During the following year, Bell took John Black into partnership with him under the name of Bell & Black. This association of names was to last until 1885, however Black, still a partner in 1859, had left by 1861 when Bell was the sole partner. The works were situated on the south side of High Street Stratford, near Bow Bridge.

In 1852 they employed 300 hands, half of them inside the factory, the others being “out workers” who collected materials from the factory and took them home, returning the finished articles when ready, on a piece-work basis, a custom of the time.

Four early small tins circa 1860s showing “go to bed” provision at top right. Sizes 47 x 36 x 12mm, 47 x 36 x 20mm, 49 x 49 x 22mm & 49 x 38 x 22mm

In 1868, letters patent were granted to Samuel Alexander Bell. Sometime between 1868 and 1876, Bell also leaves the business as in this latter year, a joint stock company Bell & Black Limited (No. 10582) was floated to take over the business.  The managing Director was William Bridges Adams, an engineer well known in connection with local enterprises.

Difficult times were approaching. Nearly fifty years earlier the chemists had abandoned the hazardous manufacture of matches in favour of the new factories from which they were able to buy matches cheaper than they themselves could make them. Now it was the factories who were facing a crisis. A factory equipped with the latest machinery could increase its output and reduce costs. Fewer factories would be needed, though new capital would have to be sunk into those still operating.

Such conditions demanded a pooling of interests by those wishing to survive, the scrapping of buildings not suitable for conversion to the new order and the unstinted use of new capital in purchasing the best machinery the market could provide.

In 1881, the businesses of John Hynam and The London Match Company were absorbed as a preliminary to a major grouping carried out in the same year by the merging of four large concerns.

  1. Dixson Son & Evans of Manchester
  2. John Jex Long of Glasgow
  3. Bell & Black Limited of London, and
  4. John Bellerby & Son Ltd of York.

The new company created for this purpose was called The Bell & Black Match Company Limited (No. 15588). The registered office was at High Street, Stratford until 1882, when it was removed to 147 Cannon Street, London.

In 1884 the Stratford Works was still in use, as also were addresses at 79 High Street, Stratford and Marshgate Lane, Stratford. In March 1885, the registered office was moved to 101 Leadenhall Street, London. A month later the company was absorbed by Bryant & May Limited.

Click on an image below to enlarge it and see the Bell and Black item.

Bibliography – R. Holton’s “The Matchbox Label” Vol 2 No 14 March 1960

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Children playing games

Children on a swing. Trademark registration of this label filed to Japan Patent Office by Mr. Mokichi Iwaki based in Osaka (1915), 50 x 32 mm

Exhibitor Takeshi Yokomizo

Click here for Japanese language version


The Japanese match industry was one of the main industries underpinning the economic development of Japan after the country established itself as a modern nation in Meiji era (1868 – 1912). The match industry peaked its activities in the early 20th century. During the peak-time (1907 – 1919), 80% of its production was for export and shipped mainly to China, Hong Kong and India. 5% of its export volume was also shipped to Western countries such as the US and Australia.

  • The label designs for the biggest importer – China – featured auspicious motifs such as dragons, kilins (Chinese unicorns), deer, monkeys, bats, peaches and peonies, as well as children and elders often depicting old fables.
  • Elephants and Hindu gods were popular designs for India. The label designs for export matches were diverse and playful as it was common to tailor the design to the tastes and likes of each destination.

The trade was carried out by Qing (Chinese) merchants who were based in the Japanese exit port of Kobe. Most Japanese manufacturers were small businesses who received financing from Qing merchants so we can speculate that they instructed Japanese manufacturers to make specific designs suitable for their clients. At that time, manufacturers were able to meet elaborate design orders as they had skilled wood engravers who previously produced detailed news-sheets and Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) but had lost jobs due to the emergence of letterpress printing.

Skipping rope. Manufactured by Ryota Kon-su. Other details unknown, 91 x 70 mm

Labels depicting children playing games

The images here are labels featuring children playing games made during the peak-time of export (1907 – 1919). By the look of the clothing, some of them were possibly aimed at exporting to Western countries, and others were to China and India. Regardless of its origins and prevalence, many children’s games were similar beyond cultures and regions, as we find games and play depicted that is common across the world.

These labels might have drawn a smile from an adult while striking a match and remembering his/her childhood. I would like to think of these designs as a kind of modern version of auspicious motifs bringing people some good omen.

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

Here are a few notes about some of the games that the Japanese children played :

  • Hoop Rolling : Japanese hoop rolling was said to have started from rolling a hoop taken out from a wooden basin. From Meiji era onwards, bicycle rims were commonly used.
  • Paddling pool : during Meiji era (1868 – 1912) and Taisho era (1912 – 1926), it was a common custom in summer for people to place a large flat basin in the garden and cool-off by splashing water using a pail. It was also a great summer fun for children.
  • Goldfish fishing originated in China and became a popular game often seen in festival stalls in summer. Nowadays, a player uses a paper scooper to catch a goldfish until the scooper breaks.
  • Flying kites became popular during Edo era (1603 – 1867) and have been enjoyed ever since.
  • Sumo is a Japanese national sport. Two wrestlers fight with bare hands in a circular ring and try to push his opponent out from the ring or topple him to the ground. The printed text “TATA & SONS/BOMBAY” was probably for the commemoration of  the regular shipping lane between Japan and Mumbai opened jointly by Japanese NYK Line and Indian Tata Group in 1893. It made exporting large quantity of matches to India possible.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

Matchorama Aristocrat, by Universal Match

Universal Match Corporation logo

Exhibitor : Derek Judd

Universal Match was founded in 1925 by A H and S M Rosenberg.  The family had a number of years’ worth of match manufacturing before embarking on this adventure of their own. 

Over the following years Universal Match absorbed many different match companies by mergers and takeovers.  Universal changed its name in 1966 to UMC Industries Inc as they had become a very successful company.

In 1981 the company was sold to Swedish Match AB which led to the renaming of the business to Universal Match Corp.  Production centres for Universal were nationwide as can be seen by the examples in the gallery below. 

Universal had numerous trademarks/types (37) in their stable of bookmatches.  Matchorama is listed as colour photo-type (in 1956).

The Matchorama Aristocrats bookmatches were produced publicising very diverse topics. In the US this size of matchbook is commonly known as a “30 strike match cover” which would equate to the major size in the UK. 

The gallery below has some of my favourite examples which I hope you find of interest. Those shown are all front strikers (FS) which are an earlier style, but later styles changed to having a back striker (BS). Further information and articles etc can be found on a Google search if required.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.


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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.


Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

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.

Click here to return to the Exhibition Catalogue.

© Copyright BML&BS 1945 - 2024

Powered by Everything WordPress theme