Victoria Cross labels

Portrait of Battle of Lucknow, 1857
Portrait of Battle of Lucknow, 1857

Exhibitor Middleton family

This portrait shows the hand to hand fighting for the Relief of the British Residency in the Lucknow Garrison by the 78th Highlander Regiment in the India Mutiny (Rebellion) on the 27th September 1857. 

Our Great Great Grandfather Henry Warner VC took part in this battle and every soldier in the 78th Highlander Regiment won a Victoria Cross for bravery. It was unanimously decided by all the men that the person who would wear the medal would be Assistant Surgeon Valentine Munbee McMaster and the citation is shown at the bottom of the portrait. The highest wartime award for bravery in the UK is the Victoria Cross medal and it was first brought in by Queen Victoria in early 1856. 

Henry Warner was an Englishman born 1822 in Great Dunmow, Essex and joined the 55th Westmoreland Regiment of Foot in Ingatestone, Essex in 1841. In 1842, he volunteered to join the 78th Highlanders and served as a Private for 17 years in Persia and India (1842 – 1859). He died in Gravesend, Kent in 1891.

Victoria Cross for Battle of Lucknow, Edinburgh
Victoria Cross for Battle of Lucknow, Edinburgh

 

The actual Victoria Cross presented by Queen Victoria to the Regiment can be seen on display in the National War Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle.

 

Alan, Mark and Padraig, 2020
Alan, Mark and Padraig, 2020

We went to see it in February 2020 before the first Lockdown. 

 

 

 

 

 

Victoria Cross labels, pre-1914, most ca. 50 x 30 mm
Victoria Cross labels, pre-1914, most ca. 50 x 30 mm

 

The Victoria Cross was a popular patriotic theme in the early 1900s on a matchbox label.

These six Victoria Cross Medal labels, were all issued prior to World War One and were imported into the UK from Belgium and Russia. 

Highlander box and packet labels, Flanders, Belgium and Austria
Highlander box and packet labels, Flanders, Belgium and Austria

 

The Highlander Regiment were also celebrated on matchbox labels, some of which are illustrated here.

 

 

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Wildlife on matchbox labels

Czechoslovakian matchbox label 50 mm x 34 mm ca. 1961
Czechoslovakian matchbox label 50 mm x 34 mm ca. 1961
Indian matchbox label 52 mm x 36 mm ca. 1970
Indian matchbox label 52 mm x 36 mm ca. 1970

Exhibitor Detlef Zschiegner

Click here for German language version

 

The exhibition sheets shown are a very small excerpt from my 5855 different match label collection of motifs on the subject of animals.

My collection of motifs is divided into different collection areas such as “mammals / wild animals; Fish – aquatic life; Pets; Butterflies; otherwise. insects; Prehistoric birds and animals ”.

In this exhibition I am concentrating on some sheets of the sub-area “Mammals / Wildlife”, and I have selected matchbox labels and packet labels from many countries in order to show the beauty and variety of animal representations on the match label.

The aim of this collection of motifs, using the match labels as an example, is to show the viewer the beauty and diversity of this area of collection and, on the other hand, to convey knowledge about the animal world with the animal labels, as well as the people for the topic of nature conservation and to inspire animal welfare. Click on an image below to enlarge it.

  • The chimpanzees are a genus of the great ape family (Hominidae). Chimpanzees are the closest living relatives of humans and inhabit central Africa
  • Several animal species from the genus of goats (Capra) are named as ibex: These include Alpine ibex (Capra ibex); Ethiopian Ibex (Capra walie); Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica); Nubian Ibex or Syrian Ibex (Capra nubiana); East Caucasian Ibex (Capra cylindricornis); Siberian Ibex or Asiatic Ibex (Capra sibirica); West Caucasian Ibex (Capra caucasica)
  • The European brown bear or Eurasian brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) is a subspecies of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) from the bear family (Ursidae). In Eurasia and North America it occurs in several subspecies, including the grizzly bear (U.a. horribilis) and Kodiak bear (U.a. middendorffi)
  • The squirrels (Sciurus) are a genus of the tree squirrels (Sciurini) within the family of the squirrels (Sciuridae). A noticeable feature is the raised, bushy tail. All squirrels are forest dwellers and feed primarily on seeds and fruits
  • The polar bear (Ursus maritimus), also called polar bear, is a species of predator from the bear family (Ursidae). It lives in the northern polar regions and is closely related to the brown bear
  • The giraffes (Giraffa) are a genus of mammals from the order of the artifacts. The giraffes are the tallest land animals in the world
  • Wisent, the wisent or European bison (Bos bonasus; often also Bison bonasus) is a European cattle species (Bovini). All bison living today are descended from twelve bison kept in zoos and animal enclosures
  • The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the only Central European representative of the fox and is therefore mostly referred to as “the fox”. It is the most common wild dog in Europe. The red fox is an undemanding omnivore. If there are fluctuations in the number of prey animals, he changes his diet at short notice and generally prefers what is easy to prey and offers a high energy content (opportunistic diet)

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Why I started collecting

Exhibitor : Mike Pryor

In 1965 my mother started working in my aunt and uncle’s newsagent shop in Newquay Cornwall, helping out with marking the papers before they were delivered all around the town. This was an early morning job, starting at 6, and for some reason I went along too in order to ‘be helpful’. I was 8 years old, and although I wasn’t allowed to mark the papers I was given the job of making sure that the shelves were fully stocked with matchboxes and the sweet counter was fully stocked with bubblegum, Fool’s Gold and many other types of confectionery. Maybe this is where I got my sweet-tooth from ?

If a shelf needed filling with matchboxes then I had to do three things :

  • find a Gross packet of boxes (these contained 12 smaller packets of a dozen boxes each), break it open and extract the dozen packets
  • break open the Dozen packet and extract the twelve individual boxes
  • stack the boxes on the shelf
Gross packet label
Gross packet label 275 cm by 168 cm

I noticed that the Gross packet had a beautiful large label on it, stuck onto the blue paper wrapping with many many spots of glue. Likewise the Dozen packet has a lovely large label on it, again stuck onto the blue wrapping paper with spots of glue. I’m talking about the Old Cornish Mine labels here – I’m sure that there were other types of boxes on the shelf (Swan Vesta?) but it was the Old Cornish Mines which captured my imagination.

Dozen packet label
Dozen packet label 93 cm by 64 cm

 

I asked my aunt if I could keep the big labels, because they normally went in the rubbish bin. She said that I could, which was brilliant.

 

 

 

One of the many things that fascinated me was the contents of the packets :

  • inside the Gross packet, were all the dozen packets the same ? No, they were not, the packets were different
  • inside the Dozen packet, were all the boxes the same ? As far as I can remember they were not the same, but honestly it’s so long ago I can’t really remember now

My older cousin, Adrian, had started collecting matchbox labels and he encouraged me to do the same. He had acquired a lot of Polish and Japanese labels as well as the standard England’s Glory, Scottish Bluebell, Pilot, Captain Webb and Army and Navy ones of the time. Eventually he gave up collecting and gave me his collection, which was really kind. 

But it was the Old Cornish Mine series which really intrigued and inspired me, and so began my lifetime interest in Phillumeny.

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Why I exhibit

A typical exhibit
A typical exhibit

Exhibitor : Jim Taylor

I really enjoy showing other people my collection, and Exhibitions are a great place to do this. In order to increase awareness of our hobby, have fun, and to raise money for Charity I do as many exhibitions as I can, always in memory of Charles Chappell and my mother Mrs. Barbara Taylor SRN. I have already raised over £15,000 for Charity from my Exhibits. Although I don’t own a computer I am delighted to be part of the Society’s first On-line Exhibition.

Charles and me in 1979
Charles and me in 1979

 

 

Matchbox Club labels from 1983
Matchbox Club labels from 1983

Charles Chappell started collecting in 1928, specialised in old Belgium had around 30,000 in his collection. He was a member of BML&BS Society and the Norwich Club as well.

Charles is the reason I began collecting, after meeting him in 1973.

I went to see him one evening and he told me the basics of the hobby.

 

 

 

Mum in 1942
Mum in 1942

My mother was a State Registered Nurse (SRN) and was very active during World War II on the Home Front. She always encourage me to collect.

 

Typical Exhibits

Whenever I Exhibit I like to show a range of Phillumeny materials, which I think non-collectors in particular will find interesting, and may even encourage them to start collecting and join the Society.

One of my Exhibits, 2010
One of my Exhibits, 2010

A typical Exhibit of mine would include :

  • box and packet labels, especially ones with coupons and offers
  • actual boxes, of varying sizes
  • items of hardware
  • teatowels and aprons from match companies

 

Here are some examples from my collection which you are likely to see in one of my Exhibitions, including examples of my specialisms “Foreign Made” and “Threes”. Click on an image to enlarge it.

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When I started collecting

Finnish label from the Native Americans set, in both languages
Finnish label from the Native Americans set, in both languages

Exhibitor : Flemming Henningsen

I started collecting matchbox labels as a boy in the mid-1960s. At that time there was only one match factory remaining in Denmark, H. E Gosch in Copenhagen. It was some nice boxes imported from Finland that caught my interest.

A contributing reason why I chose matchbox labels over e.g. stamps or coins was that it was a much cheaper hobby, but definitely just as interesting. One of the sets showed Native Americans, which was available in both Danish and Finnish.

Danish skillet, 1970s, 113 x 53 mm
Danish skillet, 1970s, 113 x 53 mm

 

When I started collecting the matchboxes were wooden boxes with a label glued on them. At that time we only collected the label. From the end of the 1960s the match factories started to produce card boxes instead of wooden ones, and the labels were printed direct on the cardboard.

Therefore, we started to open the boxes where they are glued together and mounted them as skillets in our albums.

Through the years my collection grew with family and friends giving me matchboxes that they collected for me on holidays or otherwise.

I also became a member of clubs for phillumenists and got pen pals around the world.

Today my collection has gradually grown to more than 161,000 different labels, skillets and boxes from 178 different countries, among them also former countries and areas with autonomy.

H. E. Gosch labels from the 1960s
H. E. Gosch labels from the 1960s

The history of the Danish match industry was written up in Society Newsletters between October 1967 and October 1968. The H. E. Gosch factory was closed in 1972 after it had been taken over by Swedish Match.

Some Knud Jensen advertising labels
Some Knud Jensen advertising labels

 

In addition to the Danish match factory, others had specialized in making advertising labels for private companies. Here in Denmark the company Knud Jensen in Hjallesen near Odense was the leader. It was started in the mid-1950s and ceased sometime in the 1980s when the market for advertising labels on matchboxes collapsed.

  

 

Here are some of the imported matchbox labels from Finland that caught my interest back in the 1960s. Click on an image to enlarge it.

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Unique 1936 matchbox from Spain

Exhibitor : José Ventura García

Click here for Spanish language version

 

Some CAF boxes
Some CAF boxes

Between 1930 and 1936 the Spanish match company Compañía Arrendataria de Fósforos (C. A .F) issued 12 beautiful series of matchboxes which used high-quality colour photos showing various national themes : Film Stars, National Costumes, Boats and Admirals of the Spanish Armada, Towns of Spain etc. There were 35 numbered items in each Series. The boxes were made of card and used the famous ‘cajas de gomitas’ style where the lid was held shut by a rubber band.

A unique matchbox
A unique matchbox

All these Series are well documented, but in my collection I have a box which does not appear in those lists and therefore cannot be explained. This is the box shown on the left.

Why is it unique ? Because this box shows different photos to the normal series :

  • nº 1 of the normal Series 3 is the actor George Bancroft and nº 6 of Series 5 is Admiral D. Francisco Javier Winthuyse
  • on this unique box nº 1 of Series 3 is the actress Norma Shearer and nº 6 of Series 5 is a scene from the movie “Fiel a la Marina” with actress Clara Bow.
A normal box and the unique box
A normal box and the unique box

On the right is a normal box and the unique box showing nº 6 of Series 5. The ‘banderole’ is a Tax Stamp which was by the Exchequer to raise additional funds for the Government

Why was this box made with ‘incorrect’ photos ? Do any other examples exist ? We will probably never know why the box was made, or where, but I do know that there is another box with exactly the same photos on it in the Museu Marès in Barcelona, which is the only other example I have ever seen. Perhaps it was made as a trial, a printer’s test ?

Each of these CAF boxes used photos from two different Series, for example Series 7 and Series 8. They contained 40 wax matches which were contained in a compartment in the tray, and the rubber band held the top closed so that the matches did not fall out. Most of the boxes sold for 10 cts, but later ones sold for 20 cts. The boxes used three labels :

  1. a single label on the lid, with a photo
  2. inside the lid was an advertising label, which can be found in three different versions
  3. an artb on the base, a photo and two side panels

The gallery below shows some more images of CAF boxes from these Series, click on an image to enlarge it.

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Union Linz (Austria)

Union Linz label from 1902, 158 x 253 mm
Union Linz label from 1902, 158 x 253 mm

Exhibitor Vladimír Steiner

The UNION LINZ factory operated in Austria from 1888 to 1975, and produced some beautiful matchboxes and labels in the early years, some of which are illustrated here. Linz is a city in the north of Austria, about 180 km west of Vienna, and is the country’s third largest city.

Founded in 1888, in December 1903 the factory was bought by the SOLO MATCH conglomerate, and the name changed to SOLO LINZ. Solo went on to become one of the biggest match brands in the world during the 20th Century. The Linz factory stopped production in 1975 and was demolished in 1980.

Below I have shown some of the rare Union Linz labels which are in my collection. Because of their age these labels are hard to find. Click on an image to enlarge it.

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Trench art

Trench Art grips
Trench Art grips

Exhibitor : Phil Stringer

In 1975 I found my first matchbox grip that could be placed into this category of collectable. At this time the term Trench Art was not used, sometimes described as prisoner of war work but generally just considered as low quality home-made items. The quality can vary dramatically partly due to the skills of the individual creators but largely due to the availability of tools and workshop space.

In the trench or professional workshop; – A certain TV presenter for the BBC’s antique programs has romanced up the story of trench art describing how a bored soldier in the trenches would tinker away with a rusty nail to fashion an elaborately chased and raised pattern on a shell case, infeasible. The fact is there are two types of wares typically described as trench art :

  1. those made by soldiers (not necessarily in an actual trench) and
  2. those made as part of a cottage industry utilising left over materials from the war and potentially made in well equipped metal workshops

As a general rule items inscribed with generic legends in the nature of “Souvenir 1914 –18 War” are likely to have been made for the tourist market, those which show a soldier’s name and perhaps his rank and regiment as well as those which highlight a particular battle or location are more likely to have been made by the man in the trench. The matchbox grip was a common subject being a very useful but relatively straight forward and uncomplicated item to construct.

I believe these five examples are pieces most likely to have been made by soldiers or individuals.

Copper grip, 62 x 40 x 23 mm
Copper grip, 62 x 40 x 23 mm

 

[1] this piece in copper has the names and dates of various campaigns and the soldier’s name. It has been inscribed by using a tool in a rocking fashion which is commonly seen. To engrave even straight and curved lines in the conventional fashion requires a skill that takes a lot of practice.

Brass grip, 60 x 44 x 19 mm
Brass grip, 60 x 44 x 19 mm

 

 

[2] The handshake on the reverse of this piece in brass and the date 1914 – 1919 (Versailles Peace Treaty) suggest this may be post war but it does bear a personal name and number.

 

 

German grip
German grip

 

[3] Relatively crudely engraved in German the reverse reading “souvenir of imprisonment” with the dates and the name which appears to be K Winter.

 

French grip, 56 x 41 x 20 mm
French grip, 56 x 41 x 20 mm

[4] This piece in brass is engraved with a more competent though not highly refined hand, the ship on the reverse may suggest a navy man.

 

 

 

 

 

Aluminium grip, 60 x 38 x 22 mm
Aluminium grip, 60 x 38 x 22 mm

 

 

[5] this piece in aluminium is dated 1916 the dedication suggesting that it was made as a gift. The “On War Service” engraving on the reverse depicts the badge issued by the Ministry of Munitions for civilians engaged in urgent war work.

 

Examples 6-10 below have no specific dedication usually inscribed “souvenir” and “France” and being finished in a more decorative manner. Click on an image below to enlarge it.

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Treasure hunter strikes lucky

Exhibitor Alan High

Unlike many of the more experienced members of the Society my knowledge of the history of a label, its manufacturing origins and distribution channels is that of a novice.  So whilst other exhibits will offer you many more facts and deeper passions for their hobby, I hope the labels below illustrate the depth and breadth of subject matter featured on the labels of what were throwaway moments in time, and maybe inspire you the reader to also collect a piece of history on a subject close to your heart. 

From art and design, culture, politics and humour, trains, planes, automobiles, propaganda, greatest achievements, worthy causes and any other topic you can think of has been created for a matchbox label. Have fun collecting your own. Click on an image below to enlarge it.

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Tōkaidō Road

Labels from the Tōkaidō Road series, in a collectors' album
Labels from the Tōkaidō Road series, in a collectors’ album

Exhibitor : Jerry Bell

During the Edo period in Japan (1603 to 1867) there were five roads across the country which linked the main cities together. Tōkaidō Road was the most important of these and connected the then capital Kyoto with Edo (modern day Tokyo) where the Shogunate had been officially established in 1603. It ran for 514 km along the sea coast between the two cities. On the road were 53 different stations (shukuba), which provided stables, food and lodgings for travellers because the journey on foot would take many days.

There is a very famous set of woodblock prints of Tōkaidō Road by the Japanese artist, Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858), who painted them in 1832. Hiroshige’s paintings are characterized by objective realism, and he achieved great success in giving graphic expression to Japanese climate, weather and geographic features.

Nihonbashi (departure station) label, 54 x 35 mm
Nihonbashi (departure station) label, 54 x 35 mm

Matchbox labels showing Hiroshige’s paintings have been issued many times and undergone many printings.

There are actually 55 labels in the set, the 53 stations plus one label for the departure from Edo (Nihonbashi) and one label for the arrival in Kyoto, the imperial capital.

Here are the pages from my album showing the box labels, click on an image below to enlarge it and see the stations of Tōkaidō Road.

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