Alan Downer (UK)

Exhibit : Camera quality matchboxes

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

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

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

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

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

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Mike Tree (UK)

Exhibit : Geest Line

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

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

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

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

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










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Pat Stevens (UK)

Exhibit : Chuckmucks

I am fortunate in that I cannot remember not being a collector of matchboxes and their labels.  The fascination was probably started by having a pipe smoking father who consumed more matches than tobacco.  I do remember being very regularly scolded by my mother for picking up used boxes in the street.  For many years the collection was modest and it was when I was in my 20’s I discovered the British Matchbox and Booklet Society, met other collectors, realised the breadth of the hobby and learned to avoid the 2 classic tools of many uninformed collectors – scissors and the glue pot. 

My particular interests have changed and developed over the 50 plus years of collecting with the prime focus now on boxes and labels from Norway and Sweden.  Along the collecting route many smaller topics such as labels imported into the UK marked Foreign Made, Bryant and May promotional skillet boxes with a/c 23 and 26, match related ephemera, books about the hobby and match making along with many other aspects of the hobby have particularly taken my attention.

I have gained great value from meeting with other collectors and learnt through sharing knowledge and seeing what and how others collect and present their collections.

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Mike Pryor (UK)

Exhibits : Mandolins, Old Cornish mines, Why I started collecting

I started collecting matchboxes and labels in 1966. My aunt and uncle owned a tobacconist shop in Cornwall and I ‘worked’ there for them marking and delivering newspapers. This is where I first saw the Old Cornish Mine series of labels which fascinated me, and started a life-long interest in phillumeny.

Specialism – Spain

Since meeting the legendary collector and founder of the Cornish Match Company in 1971, David van der Plank, I have had a deep interest in Spanish Matchboxes and the history of the Spanish Match industry which began in 1836.

Gremio box, ca. 1895
Gremio box, ca. 1895

My collection contains Spanish examples from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, and although the majority of these are labels I do have a good number of beautiful complete boxes.

Like most collectors I also have many examples from other countries, and prefer complete boxes wherever possible. I also always enjoy exchanging information with other collectors and learning new things about our wonderful hobby of phillumeny.


Publications and Web sites

I write regular articles for the Match Label News, which is the journal of the British Matchbox Label and Bookmatch Society.

I have also developed two web sites which focus on specific aspects of my collection :

  • Gross packet label, a few Spanish Inserts
    Gross packet label, a few Spanish Inserts

    The Old Cornish Mine web site describes the history of the series which first got me interested in collecting, and shows illustrations of all the labels known to have been issued

  • Spanish Matchbox Inserts (Fototipias) web site is dedicated to the history and beauty of the Insert cards which were issued in Spanish matchboxes between 1897 and 1910

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José Ventura García (Spain)

Exhibit : Unique 1936 matchbox from Spain

In 1968 while I was working in a jewellery shop in the Plaza de Chueca, Madrid, another apprentice who was there with me gave me a box of matches. It was “El Augusto”, a clown drawn only with geometric strokes by Cruz Novillo + Olmos. The box immediately caught my attention, and I decided there and then that I was going to collect them because I thought that no one else would collect them and that I was inventing a new hobby, and although it obviously wasn’t true that was how my collecting adventure began over 53 years ago.

Behind the Plaza de Chueca is Pelayo street where you could find a tobacconist’s kiosk, and on the outside of which was a vending machine which sold boxes of matches from Fósforos del Pirineo for 1 peseta each. Whenever I had any spare money I would buy boxes and quickly noticed that they all showed different characters, people and animals related to the circus, and I kept on buying them until I had collected all 20 different boxes in the Series. The tobacconist was still there in 2015, and although the vending machine is long gone I am lucky enough to now have one in my collection.

My first box (El Augusto)
My first box (El Augusto)
My first three Series : the Circus, Balloons and ABC animals, in their souvenir packaging 
My first three Series : the Circus, Balloons and ABC animals, in their souvenir packaging 
Fósforos del Pirineo vending machine
Fósforos del Pirineo vending machine










I now specialise in collecting Spanish matchboxes and studying the Spanish matchbox industry.

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Detlef Zschiegner (Germany)

Exhibit : Wildlife on matchbox labels

My name is Detlef Zschiegner, born 1956 in Altenburg (Thuringia), where I still live to this day. I have been collecting match labels and matchboxes since 1968, with a focus on the labels.

At the beginning of May 2021, the collection consisted of around 97,000 items, including around 5,000 book detonators and boxes and around 92,000 labels. The most intense period of my collecting activity was between 1968 and 1990, when I was a member of the AG-Phillumenie Altenburg and also took part in the annual exhibitions.

In the period from 1991 to 2016, I was only able to look after my collection very sporadically for professional reasons. Since 2017, more intensive collecting has been an integral part of my life again. In 2021 I was the only collector from Germany to take part in the first international online matchbox and match label exhibition, which was organized by the Bangladesh Matchbox Collector’s Club (BMCC) from January 1st to 15th, 2021. In July 2021 I took the opportunity to attend the Phillonex exhibition run by the Swiss Match Museum.

In addition to a large number of different national collections, the focus of my work as a collector is on my motif collections. These are:

  • Vehicles
  • Coats of arms and flags
  • Costumes
  • Plants
  • Animals
  • Sports
  • Fire protection + accident prevention & traffic education & architecture

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Gísli Jóhann Sigurðsson (Iceland)

Exhibit : The Blue Lagoon

Land of ice and fire – how I started collecting matchbox labels

When I started collecting matchboxes in 1962 or 1963 (10 – 11 years old) it was very common for boys in Siglufjörður to do so. Siglufjörður is a small town in northern Iceland that is surrounded by high mountains and in those years was only open to cars due to snow for about 4 months of the year. Other transport was by sea twice a week.

During the summer, a lot of life moved into the town because ships came there from Europe for the herring as well as other people from other parts of Iceland to work with the herring. The harbours were not fenced off and closed as they are today and we went on board every single ship that came to get matchboxes in exchange. I usually went with a few packets and offered an exchange, but usually opened the packages and exchanged 1 for 1 box.

Most of the boys kept their collection in boxes from biscuits or shoeboxes, and for me it was 2 or 3 drawers in a chest of drawers. The biscuit boxes and shoe boxes then often end up in the attic. When I got a little collection started my father saw that I was very interested in this. He was a fisherman on herring boats and trawlers, he started collecting with me and was soon in touch with a Danish woman who was a collector, he read an article she had written in a Danish book called Hvem Hvad Hvor. From her he obtained information about the BML & BS which we joined. When I was 19 years old, I moved to Reykjavík and set aside the collection for many years.

From time to time I flipped through the album collection when I came to visit my family home.  About 20 years ago my father called me and said that now I had to come and take the collection, because he was starting to lose so much sight that he could not continue anymore. He wanted me to have the collection and take care of it but he was going to view the collection from time to time in a similar way as I had done. So I drove north with a trailer on the back of our car and picked it up. The collection is now 155 books of labels.

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Joel Viana de Lemos (Portugal)

Exhibit : Italian imports to Portugal 19th century

I was born in 1955 and started collecting matchbox labels and matchbooks when I was about 4 years old. Knowing about my interest in the hobby some of the phillumenists in the city of Porto encouraged me with some interesting offers. The publication in 1962 of the first catalogue of matchbox labels in Portugal allowed me to properly organize my collection. The 2nd edition of the catalogue published in 1965 and the monthly edition of the magazine “Filumenismo” gave a great boost to my development as a phillumenist. 

I went on to specialise in all the material related to Portugal or that circulated in the Portuguese market and its colonies, namely Macau. My  collection of Italian matchboxes/panels that circulated in Portugal in the 19th Century is very significant and forms the basis of my Exhibit.

I am a founding partner of the APF – “Associação Portuguesa de Filumenismo” (founded in 1972), and currently its President.

I have published the following phillumenistic works, which can be purchased from APF :

  • Catalogue of Portuguese Matchbox Labels. Edition 1992 (co-author, text in Portuguese):
  • Catalogue of Matchbox Labels – Companhia Portugueza de Phosphoros – Series – 1895-1926. 1st edition 2003; 2nd edition 2008; 3rd edition 2020
  • Catalogue of Matchbox Labels – Portugal – XIX century. 1st edition 2011; 2nd edition 2014; under publication 3rd edition
  • Catalogue of Italian Matchboxes imported by Portugal – XIX century. 1st edition 2013; under publication 2nd edition
  • Addendum to the Catalogue of Matchbox Labels – Macau – 2016 edition (co-author, text in Portuguese)
  • Advertising Skillets and Bookmatches List – Macau – 2016 (co-author) (texts in Portuguese)

I also have some phillumenistic works in development :

  • Catalogue of Matchboxes – XIX century – Portuguese factories manufacture and Italian matchboxes imported by Portugal
  • Phillumeny records – Matchbox labels produced abroad to Portuguese speaking territories
  • Phillumeny records – Postcards in Phillumeny
  • Phillumeny records – Portuguese Phillumeny Exhibitions
  • Portuguese matchbox holders (grips and slides) records

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David Figg (Australia)

Exhibits : Australian match industry, Match striking postcards

It was 1960 when as a 9-year-old boy walking to school that I kicked over a matchbox in the gutter only to find that it had a picture on it (Brymay Birds & Animals issue) so took it to school, showed my mates and we started collecting. They soon lost interest and so I acquired their holdings to complete my set.

Article from "Observer" February 1970
Article from “Observer” February 1970


I had a Great Aunt in the UK who also sent me labels and so my collection slowly grew. The labels were soaked off and pasted in an exercise book.


In 1967, I learnt of the existence of the Australian Match Cover Collectors Society (AMCCS) through a work colleague of my late father at Parker Brothers Bakery who took his son to the meetings. This was to be the start of a life-long passion for the hobby.


In 1970, this Profile was published in the AMCCS magazine, the Observer and yes, I did meet a “little Miss” marrying Dianne in 1977. Children followed in 1981 & 1983 and three grandsons in 2014, 2019 & 2020.




Secretary AMCCS (SA) 1984-1986
President AMCCS (SA) 1987 to present
Observer Editor May 1990 to February 1999
Life Membership AMCCS 2002
Observer Distributor since 2009
Annual Postal Auction Coordinator since 2009
Coordinator of National Match Exhibitions held in Adelaide in 1999, 2003, 2009, 2014, 2018 & 2021
Attendee & Trader at BML&BS Exhibitions held in 2000, 2005, 2009 & 2017


Collecting areas for labels, booklets & skillets are Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea & South Africa. World-wide hardware produced by or for the match manufacturers together with any ephemera allied to the match industry, particularly picture postcards are also collected. 


Author of –
Duncan’s of Australia
E.L. Bell & Co, Australian Match Works & Commonwealth Match Works

Co-Author/Contributor to –
Bryant & May Australia Parts 1 & 2
Federal Match Company, Australia
Redheads Skillets
Plyfiber, Australia
The Cheapies (Imports to Australia)

Numerous articles in the Observer, Match Label News & IMSA News

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Rosemarie van der Plank (UK)

Exhibit : Indian tin match adverts

Rosemarie founded The Cornish Match Company with her late husband David in 1962, and oversaw its rise to the forefront of the UK match industry during the 1970s. Always collectors and researchers, as well as shrewd business people, the van der Planks created many iconic matchbox labels and skillets for their company, including the Old Cornish Mine and Cornish Wreck series.

On Thursday 13th May 1971 they submitted the first of two trade mark applications for Cowgirl Matches. When the Trade Mark application was originally submitted the Registrar found the art work extremely realistic and asked who the model was and if she had given written permission for her image to be part of the registration. David explained that the person was imaginary and christened her “Samantha” for the registration process. However, the drawing is actually based on Rosemarie.

Newspaper advert for Cornish Match, 1970
Newspaper advert for Cornish Match, 1970

The company often placed newspaper adverts for their products, and in September 1970 this advert for Cowgirl appeared in the West Briton. 

It promised a dinner date with Samantha for the lucky winner of a “Complete the Sentence” competition. 

Rosemarie explained that a gentleman from East Cornwall won the prize and that she did meet him for dinner in a bistro in Penzance dressed in full riding gear and a Stetson. The evening went well and the gentleman later sent David a thank you letter.

The Cornish Match Company ceased trading in 1986.


Rosemarie is a regular contributor to Match Label News and is co-author of a number of phillumeny books, including :

  • The Match Box Collector’s Handbook (1979)
  • The Match Box Label Collectors Index of British Trade Marks (1979) illustrated below, click on an image below to enlarge it

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Fernán Pacheco (Costa Rica)

Exhibit : Match tax stamps

Born in San José, Costa Rica, in September 1964.  I started collecting matchboxes and labels in 2016.  I never collected anything in my life until in 2006 when I became “hooked” with revenue stamp collecting, a branch little known and even despised by traditional postal stamp collectors.  As a lawyer and notary I fell in love with those fiscal stamps that are stuck to documents.  Since then I have assembled a great collection from Costa Rica, exhibited internationally and written for multiple magazines, including for The Revenue Journal from The Revenue Society, of which I have been a member since 2008. 

Tax stamp and Costa Rica matchbox label, 35 x 50 mm
Tax stamp and Costa Rica matchbox label, 35 x 50 mm

When my collection from Costa Rica was almost complete, I became interested in tax stamps that do not adhere to documents but to objects, which are the rarest. These stamps are meant to be destroyed in the moment the bottle, cigarette pack, deck of playing cards or matchbox is opened, hence few survive. 

I liked how the stamps looked on the labels and in some time I discovered this nice and peculiar hobby.  

I quickly realized that it is impossible to collect “the whole world” so, in addition to the labels with tax stamps, I focused on Latin America countries, my favourites being Argentina, Cuba and Mexico.

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Hans Everink (Netherlands)

Exhibit : Same label, different words

My name is Hans Everink, 59 years old and I live in the Netherlands.

My passion for matchbox labels started when I was a little boy from 10 years old. At that time I also collected stamps, cigarbands and many other items which you could collect for free. But after some years I stopped with a lot of these items and focused on collecting matchbox labels, matchboxes and matchcovers from all over the world.

When I became older I also started to visit general collector fairs and specialist collector fairs for meeting other collectors with the same hobby. I exchanged a lot with collectors in the Netherlands and also with foreign collectors by post and at international fairs, like Belgium or Germany.

After years of collecting everything about matches, I now only collect matchbox labels from everywhere.

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Jerry Bell (Australia)

Exhibits : Happy 70th birthday Miss RedheadStori Belong PNG MacisTōkaidō Road

I started collecting matchcovers in England in 1948, with the purchase, for the princely sum of 15 shillings, of a collection made in India pre-1914, mainly of Swedish and Austrian labels. I was attracted by the outstanding artwork of many of the labels, and I still have all these labels in my collection, plus over 100,000 more.

I am fortunate that my work took me all over the world, and I now live in Melbourne, Australia.

"Average Contents 60" published in 2005
“Average Contents 60” published in 2005

I have been a member of the BML&BS for almost 70 years, and the Australian Society for over 40. I have published the history of the Australian match industry, “Lighting Up Australia,” and two catalogues of former imports into Australia.

My book “Average Contents 60” is available from the Society Bookshop.

I also edited the Australian club magazine, the Observer, for 10 years, and am a frequent contributor to this and the British Match Label News.


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Pauline Entwisle (UK)

Exhibit : Ohio Blue Tip

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

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

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

I am now 88 and the match box labels are receiving attention at last.

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Barry Sturman (Australia)

Exhibit : Bengal matches – a colourful story

I began collecting matchbox labels when I was about 11 years old.  I first became interested in matchboxes when I noticed a matchbox that was made out of thin wood instead of the usual cardboard and had a completely different label from the local “Redheads” brand. For several years I was quite an enthusiastic collector, but eventually gave up the hobby.  For some reason I took it up again in the mid 1980s and since then have accumulated quite a hoard of all sorts of items related to matches.

In my retirement I have been attempting to convert this hoard into a properly organized collection. This exhibit shows what I hope to achieve, but there is a long way to go.  As I am now nearly 75 years old, I regret that I have unwisely accumulated far more material than I am ever likely to have time to sort, catalogue and display.  Disposal of a collection seems to be a perennial problem amongst collectors as old age advances, especially when the family has no interest in the accumulated items.

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Tom Gibbard (UK)

Portrait of Tom by Heather Gibbard
Portrait of Tom by Heather Gibbard

ExhibitsBritish railways, Forty years (or more) on

I have been a BML&BS member since 1968 but have collected all my life starting in the early 1950s or even late 1940s. I am also a member of the West and Midlands Phillumenists for whom I edit a quarterly magazine.

My father in 1968
My father in 1968

My father was a railwayman and he started to keep boxes during the war when some appeared with propaganda and patriotic slogans. 

While my father’s collection comprised boxes and labels mine concentrates on bookmatches, presently only those relating to the British market.  Even this is a huge subject and my collection comprises about half a million items.


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Ian Macilwain (UK)

Exhibit : Mr Perriman – a memory

Scottish Bluebell label 50 x 112 mm, ca. 1961
Scottish Bluebell label 50 x 112 mm, ca. 1961

I was propelled into collecting labels at the age of 12 when, leaning over a fence waiting for the school bus I set eyes on a box of Scottish Bluebell which attracted my attention (I was in Hampshire and this was a rare label to me probably dropped by a soldier, as it was an Army camp). My friend who was with me wanted it for his collection but I decided somewhat selfishly that it would make a good start to mine !!

I joined the BML&BS in 1970 and was a member for ten years, lapsing when I had a wife and children. I specialised in Eastern Europe and had many collector pen pals in The DDR, Czechoslovakia and Poland.

The hobby has never lost its allure and now that I am retired I am revisiting the fantastic archive which the collection had become. Every label carries a story and is like a time capsule to my childhood years.

Maybe with advancing years I will re-find the fascination that I used to have for this unusual hobby. Somewhat ironically I have lived in Scotland for half my life surrounded by more Scottish Bluebells than I would care to count.

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Jim Taylor (UK)

Me and an Exhibit, 1995
Me and an Exhibit, 1995

Exhibit : Why I exhibit

I met my friend Charles Chappell in January 1973 who got me interested in the hobby, and I joined the British Matchbox Label and Booklet Society at the Bonnington Hotel in London.

Since joining the Society I have done many matchbox memorabilia exhibitions, including one at the Mars Master Foods factory in 2009 where they were celebrating 40 years in Kings Lynn. At the Great Yarmouth Phillumeny Show I won the Gold and Silver awards, and I like to use my hobby to raise funds for Charities. 

Foreign Made and Three box labels
Foreign Made and Three box labels

I collect matchboxes from all over the world, specialising in “Foreign Made” and “Threes“. I collect boxes and labels including dozen and gross packets, tens and 100 wrapper labels, and have accumulated over 36,000 items so far.

April 2016
April 2016

I really enjoy being a member of the Society. After Mrs Irene Harris died I continued her work of listing the Latest Issues in the Match Label News to help other collectors, showing what is new in the UK and other countries of the world, and I spent many hours walking to find these boxes and labels in the shops. In 2016 I was thrilled to be awarded the Tony Gallaher Memorial Award for these articles.

My passion is telling other people about my hobby, and I love showing my collection at Exhibitions. I have also done 34 talks on the hobby, and have appeared on Radio Norfolk on three sperate occasions over the years.

Although I don’t own a computer I am delighted to be part of the Society’s first On-line Exhibition.

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Keith Kendall (UK)

Exhibit : Joe Camel R.I.P.

I started collecting when in the cubs as part of a collector’s badge, my uncle, Gilbert Kendall gave me some of his duplicates and that started me off around 1969. I discovered the B.M.L. & B.S. in the 1970’s and joined in October 1977, when still living with my parents. When I moved to London, I attended my first meeting at the CEGB building near St. Paul’s around 1979.

My collection has always been a general one, I tend to specialize in Food Companies/Hotels/Tobacco related.

After a 15-year break, I have recently gone back to my collection and am beginning to try and get it organized.

This is my first attempt at an exhibit, apart from one I did when my uncle ran a local exhibition in Offley, Herts for a local hospice. Then I exhibited some old Russian labels I acquired when exchanging with a Russian collector in St. Petersburg.

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James Oxley-Brennan (UK)

Exhibit : Swan Vestas

New Forest box label, 35 x 50 mm
New Forest box label, 35 x 50 mm

My collection began in the early 1950’s with New Forest, a brand made in Belgium.

We were living on the Hampshire/Dorset border, and my mother liked this box, with its label showing a deer and a sylvan background.

It was not long before she found another attractive box, and then another …..

We moved to Norfolk in 1955, when I was seven, and while at the village school I came across a shoebox full of empty matchboxes, most of which were new to me.

“Could I please have a few for my collection”, I asked.

Alpha box label, artb, 56 x 111 mm
Alpha box label, artb, 56 x 111 mm

They let me have some, and one which I remember well was “Alpha” from United Match Industries.


Norwich club label, 1983
Norwich club label, 1983

In the late 1960’s I visited an exhibition staged by the Norwich Phillumenists. This was my first experience of a group of like-minded enthusiasts, and I learnt what to do and what not to do – “never show a matchbox a pair of scissors” was the sound advice of Mrs Peggy Thompson. With her husband Fred and son Stephen she was the mainstay of the club.

In October 1976 I joined the BML&BS and was enrolled by John Luker. My collection expanded, to take in hardware and ephemera, all helping to complete the picture. In June 1989 I became the Honorary Librarian, and am very happy to hold this post.

Today I concentrate on British material, and the former British brands from Republic Technologies UK, the Society’s Patron, especially Swan Vestas. I have never tried to make the biggest collection, preferring quality to quantity, deriving much enjoyment from my collection.

Although I don’t have a computer I am pleased to have an Exhibit in our first On-line Exhibition, an important milestone for the Society.

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Chris Hime (Australia)

Exhibits : Australian logo series, Cheapies

I live in the city of Adelaide in South Australia and have been collecting now for over 40 years. It started for me when I would walk to primary school and would see any discarded matchboxes on the street. When my brother was hospitalized for asthma as a child my parents encouraged him to collect matchbox labels as well to pass the time. 

My interest blossomed whereas my brother lost interest and I was also given my uncle’s collection which helped me with some older labels. My parents owning a delicatessen gave me an opportunity to get new additions plus my uncle in his travels would bring home matchboxes as well.

I joined the Australian Match Cover Collectors Society in 1982 after placing a question to the “What’s Your Problem” section of the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper and from there I gained a lot of knowledge and expanded my collection. In 2014 I was awarded Life Membership of the Society.

Two of my match tins, a grip and a striker
Two of my match tins, a grip and a striker

Over the years I have diversified into advertising, match tins, and match strikers of which I have around 400. I also collect grips and have around 850 of them. I collect mainly from Australia, Great Britain, USA, Canada, Holland, New Zealand and Sweden. One of my recent interests is bookmatch and slimline series which are the subject of this Exhibit.

In recent times with the pandemic, having a hobby has been a godsend. I hope you enjoy what I do and hope you enjoy my Exhibits.

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Derek Judd (UK)

Exhibit : My first collected items

My collecting of bookmatches started, possibly, like other collectors did by collecting bookmatches that were free in various businesses.  These were often found on the edges of ashtrays on bars, hotel reception desks and the like.  I collected this way for many years until I read an article in the press that a meeting of phillumenists was being held in Croydon, Surrey.  This was in 1995.

I attended the meeting and was amazed at the vast array and quantity of bookmatches, labels, skillets and ARTB’s.  It was from this meeting that I decided to specialise in collecting only Bryant & May from the various factories/countries.  I also made the decision to only collect complete, unstruck bookmatches. 

I have been a member of the Society since then and President of the BML&BS since 2011.

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Vladimír Steiner (Czech Republic)

Exhibit : Union Linz (Austria)

I am 73 years old and I collect matchbox labels from my youth. I started collecting labels issued for the Czechoslovak domestic market and later I continued with the Czechoslovak labels for export.

In the last 50 years I have been collecting all labels from the former Austro-Hungarian empire.

This hobby brings me great pleasure and I make friends with many collectors in my country as well as abroad. I am member of the British Matchbox Label and Bookmatch Society.

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Phil Stringer (UK)

Exhibits : An eclectic mix, Beating the breeze, No matchbox required, Spring loaded, Trench art 

In my childhood in the 1960’s I used to pick up interesting matchboxes for my cousin’s collection. At around ten years of age my eldest brother gave me his labels, about a hundred glued into a scrapbook, at that time I imagined it must have been the biggest collection in the country.

Fire Queen label, 53 x 34 mm
Fire Queen label, 53 x 34 mm


My cousin and myself were now in competition, if when cycling together a box was spotted we would fly off our bikes and a wrestling bundle would ensue.

The victor would retrieve his downturned prize to reveal a Fire Queen (the most common in our area).


Bryant & May Windproof matches, 53 x 36 x 16 mm
Bryant & May Windproof matches, 53 x 36 x 16 mm

Even as a child I was aware that family friends would reel in horror at the prospect of a showing of my “huge” collection. I’d entertain them with a B&M windproof match that wouldn’t blow out. Then I bought a full box of B&M Braided Cigar Lights; my interest for match oddities was born.

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Navneet Kulkarni (India)

Exhibit : Something unusual, different

This is Navneet Kulkarni from Pune, India. I am 46 now and have been collecting matchboxes since 1983. In our childhood games, losers had to give penalty to the winners. The currency was front labels of matchboxes. The catch was, if the matchbox was very common, we had to give 10-15-20 of them but if it was something different, unique, then you could get away with two or three.

That sparked the drive to get unique matchboxes in me. As I grew older, the childhood games were left behind, but the matchboxes were still with me.

Now I try to collect whole matchboxes with trays as far as possible. I have blog pages on Facebook and Instagram. It would be lovely to see you there and share my joy of collecting.

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Stephane Pinaud (France)

Exhibit : Early French matchboxes

Matchboxes caught my attention when I was 11 years old. I started the collection imitating a cousin. At first it was a game and an excuse to escape from the family farm to explore the shops and tobacco shop.

Casque d'or label, 50 x 35 mm
Casque d’or label, 50 x 35 mm

Exploring the attics didn’t turn out, but I found “Casque d’or” box, dated mid-1920s, in a drawer at my grandparents’ house, a treasure for me at this time !

The virus for good infected me in 1994, at random from a newsstand, when I discovered the existence of of L’Association Vitolphilique et Philumenique Francaise (AVPF) through a classified ad from a collector in a specialized newspaper. I was then 22 years old and began to search for old boxes.

I immediately made the choice to limit my collection to complete French boxes and to go back as closely as possible to the origins of this everyday object. My oldest box is from the end of the 1830s.


From before 1950 I have about 3500 complete boxes including 1000 from before the monopoly established in 1872. Over time I have also collected labels, especially for advertising boxes from the 1920s / 1930s some of which are very rare. Since 2008 I have been in charge of writing the magazine of AVPF and since 2011 chairman of the AVPF.

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Middleton family (UK)

Alan, Mark and Padraig
Alan, Mark and Padraig

Exhibit : Victoria Cross labels

Grandfather Alan Middleton joined the society in 1969 and son Mark and grandson Padraig joined earlier this year in 2021.

Published 2018
Published 2018

Alan’s interests in phillumeny are mainly pre World War Two labels and British Bookmatches, and he enjoys researching the history of labels. He has written a number of books and articles about the match manufacturers in the North of England. 

On the other hand Mark and Padraig are interested in the designs and artwork of matchbox labels.

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Badrul Hisham Jaafar (Malaysia)

Exhibit : The tigers of Malaya

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

About 8 years ago, I started to pursue phillumeny interest in earnest. Why? As a collector, I was looking for tantalizing factors of something being interesting, teasingly challenging, valuable, historically beneficial perhaps or artistically profound, with the bottom line being simply: satisfying and fun. Phillumeny satisfies all those criteria.

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

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