The match industry term for the open top box containing matches that fits inside the outerbox of a matchbox. Some phillumenists call the innerbox the tray.


Insert is a term given to any item placed within a matchbox, other than the matches themselves. Usually they are separate pieces of card or paper placed within a matchbox by the manufacturer. Their purpose was perhaps to reduce their movement in transit or to hold the matches in place during the opening of the matchbox. In many instances they are printed with advertising messages and are often also enhanced with illustrations. In other cases they were included as “picture” cards, to be collected into sets. The maker hoping that this would encourage repeat sales.

Spanish Inserts from Series 1 to 6

The most well-known of the Inserts are those used within Spanish springflap matchboxes, issued during the period 1898 to 1929 where they were issued to form sets. These are known as the “fototipias” series in Spain. But Spain was not alone, South Africa, Belgium, Columbia and Mexico are also known to have issued collectable “picture cards” within their matchboxes. Britain has also used a card Insert within matchboxes. Swan Vestas was one such brand, where some cards gave details of an insurance policy operating during WWI. “Match-head Papers” are a type of Insert. Typically used in Swedish matchboxes. These are small rectangular pieces of paper, usually part printed and part plain, and folded into an “L” shape and placed within “sliding drawer” matchboxes, at one end of the inner and cover the match heads.

Inserts are treated by many Phillumenists as a matchbox label.


Used in many of the terms in this Glossary to indicate that an item was intended to be used with matches. This implies that both used and mint examples can be found. The majority of matchbox labels in collections are mint, and most were printed with the intention of being used to label matches; though some were printed in excess to supply phillumenists. However, some labels were printed solely for phillumenists with none being applied to matchboxes or a very few to try to validate them as matchbox labels. See also collectors’ labels and sticker.

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