Collecting Matchbooks, Close Cover Before Striking!
Collecting Matchbooks or Phillumeny is a hobby that achieved a high degree of popularity in the 1960’s and on through the 1980’s. After this period of growth, the hobby slowed significantly for a few years. Then in the late 1990’s with the increasing popularity of the internet the hobby resurged as Phillumenists went online to share and trade collections.
The common friction match was first produced by an English chemist named John Walker in the early 1800s. While experimenting with a flammable liquid some of the mixture dropped to the floor and flamed up. From this accident he discovered the process of making matches. His matches were boxed and placed on sale in 1827. However, it took awhile before these were recognized as an advertising media.
A fellow named Joshua Pusey of Philadelphia in 1889 produced the earliest known commercial advertising which appeared in the late 1890’s and early 1900. Through out the early 1900’s colorful boxes and books were made containing all sorts of wonderful artwork and by the 1930s they were beginning to be widely collected. By the 1940s and 1950s smoking had become very popular and millions and millions of matchbooks were manufactured which hotels, nightclubs and restaurants made them available to their customers. Even today these are still a popular form of advertising from some of these same retail establishments.
As a beginner to this hobby you will be confronted with a large variety of labels and covers. You will likely want to posses all of them but will soon discover that this will be nearly an impossible task. There have been many different types of covers ranging from single top labels to all around labels. Collectors sometimes specialize in particular themes, types or eras of covers while others might build large, generalized collections. It is best to specialize in one that interests you the most.
Collectors often remove the matches and display their collection of covers in albums. Because of the large number of different covers available to collectors, some prefer to specialize by type, while others prefer to collect covers from places they have visited. You might like collecting old matchcovers from your home town.
Covers can also be classified by size such as 10-strike books which have 10 firesticks per book. Larger 20 match packets were the most popular. Much larger 30 and 40 count strike books are called billboards. The most popular were created in odd shapes and also early ones that are printed not only on the cover but also on the firesticks.
Matchcover collecting is a fun and inexpensive hobby. Once you start, make a habit of picking up one or two matchbooks from every place you visit. As you become obsessed with this wonderful hobby you may want to purchase more at garage sales, flea markets and antique stores. One of the best places to find them, both new and old is eBay. At eBay you can find one matchbook that may interest you or large lots that can sort through.
Other descriptors include great hobbies, hobby ideas, fun hobbies and matchbox.