Matchcovers and Matchbooks
One of the attractions of collecting matchcovers is the low cost. These things are just so common that very nice examples can be had cheaply. As with the similar collectible, postcards, far too many were made over the years to make an all-inclusive collection possible, or reasonable. Most collectors are attracted to a theme or two in which to specialize. My themes seem to be the same across all collectible categories: stylish design and historical interest.
Shown at top are “matchbooks” while most of the rest you see are “matchcovers.” For safety reasons, most collectors prefer to “shuck” the matches from matchbooks and save only the cover, lain flat. Matches come in a wide variety of sizes and special shapes. The most common size is the 20 light book. There are also 10s, 30s, 40s, and others.
Matchbooks at the top are: Susie Q Restaurant, Royal Oak, Michigan, where, I can personally attest, the greatest cole slaw the world has ever known was served, c.1960; Domestic Finance Co., c.1948; Anaheim Bowl, California, c.1960; Farber's Jewelers, San Francisco, c.1950 (this small matchbook is an example of the "midget" size containing 12 matches); The Hotel Golden "Nevada's Largest Hotel" (I bet not anymore!), c.1950; Cocktail, generic, c.1950; Remco Chilled Sani-tized California Carrots, c.1940; Red Cross Cough Drops, c.1958 (slim book with 10 matches known as a "ten-strike"); Melody Lane restaurant, Los Angeles, c.1940; Sears Fashion-Tailored Clothes for Men, c.1940.
Next we see Walgreen System Drug Store featuring "Bismadine" antacid, c.1930s; The Huddle Restaurants, Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles, California, c.1960; "Insurance" is an example of one of the many excellent "stock" design matchcovers--these were ordered out of a book of pre-made designs, to which you added the particulars of your business in the blank space, c.1940s; Yellow Cab in Omaha, loud but most effectively gets its point across, c.1940s; Golden Gate International Exposition, Tower of the Sun at Night, San Francisco Bay, 1939; "Strike at the seat of trouble" was a stock matchcover exhorting us to buy war bonds. The striker was the seat of Adolf Hitler's pants.
The next row shows The Palmer House, Chicago, c.1930; Washington Nationals Baseball Club, c.1955 (this American League baseball team was also known as the Washington Senators); Stork Club, New York City, c.1958; Blue Bird Restaurant, Pueblo, Colorado, c.1950; Hotel Ben Lomond, Ogden, Utah, c.1940; Nixon's Family Restaurant and Bakery, Whittier, California, mid-1950s. Donald Nixon expanded the Nixon family business with stylish new coffee shop and drive-in locations while brother Richard said “I am not a cook” and went to Washington.
And the last two matchcovers are Cocoanut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, c.1960; Tums, quick relief for acid indigestion, heartburn, gas, c.1940.
Now if matchcovers were throw-away items (and they were!), the boxes they came in were even more so. Few had any distinctive design. For a remarkable exception, here’s a full box of Sony matches announcing their very first television set. Click the picture to go to my TV page and see a video of this little item.
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