Close Cover Before Striking

These adorable matchbooks with tiny printed match heads are from Japan via ReubenMiller.  Seeing them reminded me of my family’s habit of collecting matchbooks.  We had examples from all over the United States and Europe.  A highly incendiary collection!

“A matchbook is a small cardboard container (matchcover) that holds a quantity of matches inside and has a coarse striking surface on the exterior.  A flap on the front is lifted to access the matches, which are attached to the interior base in a comb-like pattern and must be torn away before use.”

Phillumeny is “the hobby of collecting different match-related items: matchboxes, matchbox labels, matchbooks, matchcovers, matchsafes, etc.”

Virtual Museum Match World.  The Japan Match Manufacturers Association and Japan Match Lateral Corporation operate this Match Museum.  The biggest feature of this museum is superior match labels, which are specially selected from Rankei Library’s gigantic match label collection of twenty or thirty thousands pieces owned by the Japan Match Manufacturers Association.  Visit the museum to learn about the history and science of matches.

Contemporary Japanese matchbook from Virtual Museum Match World.

The Virtual Matchbox Labels Museum is “dedicated to the images on the matchbox labels – the small artworks that most of us do not pay much attention to.  But they reflect our history, our likes and dislikes and sometimes they are real artworks in themselves.”


 Best Match.  Made in Japan.  From The Virtual Matchbox Labels Museum.

Surprisingly, matches are a relatively new invention, dating back to 1827 when English druggist John Walker marketed a sulfur tipped splint called a “Congreves.”  The first matches were explosive in nature and unpredictably dangerous to handle.  Matchcovers didn’t receive much recognition as a collectible until the 1930s.  During the late 1940s and early 1950s, there were over 1 million matchcover collectors in United States and Canada.

When a match is rubbed against a rough surface, friction supplies the match head with sufficient heat energy to enable the chemicals to react, and because the rate of heat production by the reaction is greater than the rate of heat loss to the environment, they burn with a flame. 


Judo.  Holds and sweeps.  Madi in Japan.  From The Virtual Matchbox Labels Museum.

Related links:

Matchbook Museum  from
Matchcover Collecting  from Hobbymaster
American Matchcover Collecting Club


About these ads

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. leafless
    May 01, 2008 @ 03:57:09

    I thought matches have become extinct. Very nice information.


  2. MadSilence
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 01:12:35

    Hi Leafless! Thanks for all your recent comments. Japan is still a smoking society that needs matches. But they are struggling to limit smoking among youth under 20 years old. “Smart cards” have been issued to legal smokers to prevent minors from buying cigarettes from vending machines. Now new cigarette vending machines may be equipped with digital cameras that will verify the buyer’s age. The system will assess facial characteristics such as wrinkles around the eyes, bone structure and skin sags.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 97 other followers

%d bloggers like this: