Exhibitor Biography 2022

Rupert Harris (UK)

Exhibit : Postcards from Bryant and May

I am Rupert Harris. I live a few miles from the old Moreland’s Match factory in Gloucester, England which Bryant & May acquired in 1913 and was closed in 1976. I have been collecting Bryant & May Hardware and Ephemera for over 40 years. My mother was a passionate collector and I very often accompanied her around the antiques shops, fairs and markets. At the tender age of ten she encouraged me not only to look out for items that may be of interest to her but also to follow her footsteps and become a collector myself; but of what? 

The Moreland’s factory was a landmark that we often passed and was very visible especially at night. For many years including after the closure of the match factory, the neon signage above the main entrance gate continued to brighten the night sky. Still there today, it comprises a pair of crossed matches and went through an ongoing looped sequence of both brown wooden splints lighting up, then the two red match heads, which then both burst into a flickering flame before brief darkness and the repeat of the cycle. 

Some brief research established that Gloucester had previously been the second largest manufacturing centre in the country behind London. The decision to become a phillumenist had been made and the collecting began. Within a year the wise decision, owing to budgetary restriction (pocket money, parent generosity) led to the narrowing of the collection to items bearing the words upon them of ‘Bryant & May’.

Harlequin Matches Third Edition
Harlequin Matches Third Edition

 

 

In 2008 I published a book about Bryant and May’s range of Harlequin Matches which is now in its third edition which adds in even more information about these fantastically colourful matchboxes.

 

 

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Ian Macilwain (UK)

Exhibit : Distilling the essence of a Country onto a label

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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Simon Blackman (UK)

Exhibit : Merwanjee Nanabhoy Mehta

I was introduced to the collecting of matchboxes, matchbooks, labels and more by a family friend who had worked in the Far East and who had a nice album of labels and skillets from Hong Kong that he would show me occasionally. Early on I fell into the same trap as many fledgling collectors with skillets thinned and trimmed; matchbooks bobtailed; and everything stuck into albums with rubber glue and Sellotape. So, 10 years in, my collection had to be thrown out and I started all over again!  

In the intervening years I had come across a presentation pack from the Cornish Match obtained when I went to Cornwall on holiday; and learned of the existence of the British Matchbox Label and Booklet Society. A lifetime friendship with David Van Der Plank would later follow.

Three complete rare Indian matchboxes, from WIMCO

 

Initially I started collecting Indian labels because they were cheap, numerous in number and easy to purchase.

Slowly I branched out to other Asian countries though, somehow, I have never had the desire to collect labels from Japan or Sri Lanka (Ceylon). 

Gradually I became more interested in researching matchbox history and making my findings available to other collectors.

Two pages from my book

 

I was in an advantageous situation as my daytime job as a computer support officer at the University of Liverpool allowed me access to research resources only available to academics. I then took night school classes in Mandarin Chinese so that I could understand labels bearing Chinese characters. A book followed (“Towards a Better Understanding of Chinese Matchbox Labels: A Beginners Guide to Translation”) and now that I have retired am working on updating and extending it.

Today I am as interested in researching the history of match manufacture as collecting matchbox labels!

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Alan Downer (UK)

Exhibit : Porcelain Matchstrikers by Conta and Boehme

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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David Figg (Australia)

Exhibits : To be decided

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.

 

 

COMMITTEE SERVICE, ETC.

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

SPECIALISATION AREAS

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. 

PUBLICATIONS & ARTICLES

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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Derek Judd (UK)

Exhibit : To be decided

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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Gísli Jóhann Sigurðsson (Iceland)

Exhibit : Three Stars in the Icelandic night sky

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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Jerry Bell (Australia)

Exhibits : Hinemoa and Tutaneki – a Maori love story

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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Jesús María Bollo García (Spain)

Exhibit : 19th century scrapbook albums, 21st century treasure

In 1955 there was a joint military base of the American-Spanish army in Torrejón de Ardoz, a town near Madrid. For senior military officials, the American army rented or bought (I don’t know exactly which) a hotel that was located very close to the house where I lived – the Hotel Balboa.

American Bookmatch for Hotel Balboa
American Bookmatch for Hotel Balboa

 

I had to walk past this hotel every day on my way to the Institute where I was studying, and I started noticing and then collecting the matchboxes that the soldiers threw down on the ground when they had used all the matches. These boxes came from the supermarket inside the base which sold only American products.

Some Diamond Match Company bookmatches
Some Diamond Match Company bookmatches

 

This is how I started to acquire the wonderful series of “Circus Day”, “Homes of Great Americans”, “The Old West”, “American Folklore” and other examples from Diamond Match Company. Later, I naturally started collecting Spanish labels which became my specialism and passion, but always finding room for a few interesting items from other countries.

 

 

 

 

My book, Los Fabricantes de Cerillas
My book, Los Fabricantes de Cerillas

In 2018 I published “Los Fabricantes de Cerillas” a 2-volume illustrated book which describes the history of the Spanish Match Industry from 1834 to 1899 based on the archives of the Digital Newspaper Library of the National Library and the Historical Archive of the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office.

At the moment I am preparing a Catalogue of the Manufacturers of Spanish matchboxes, although given the complexity of the subject and the difficulty of finding information about these manufacturers I realise that the Catalogue may never see the light of day.

 

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Joel Viana de Lemos (Portugal)

Exhibit : Surcharges on Portuguese Matchboxes

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 formed the basis of my Exhibit in 2021.

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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