Friday, February 24, 2012

Baby, Light My Fire

 I casually collect matches...little matchbooks. They have matches inside (usually) and that is handy. They have great little bits of art and great graphics. When I was little, my parents had matches made with their business names and addresses and that used to mystify me.  The box of Yountville Cab Company at 6528 Washington St. matches sat on my dad's counter in a box that said "For Our Matchless Friends".

Where did they come from? Well, probably from Diamond Match company in Chico, California or Monarch Match company in San Jose, California. These have ads from Yountville and Napa businesses back in the day ...

Paper matches were patented in  September 1892 by a Philadelphia  Patent Attorney!  2 weeks later a Mr. Bowman of Pennsylvania patented the little paper "folder"  they come in.  Bowman's patent, was challenged by the Philly Attorney, but Bowman's patent was upheld.
The attorney then  sold his patent to the Diamond Match Trust in 1896 and got the job as the company's patent attorney. Mr. Bowman's company, the American Safety Head Match Company of Lebanon, PA didn't last long though. The Diamond Match Co. then became the first mass-producer of paper matchbooks.

Ads have been printed on the covers since 1894, two years after they were patented. They've always been a cheap promotional item or anniversary souvenir.

 Collectors are known as phillumentists, or "lovers of light".  Which is waaaaaay different from Thomas Kincade,  "The Painter of Light".
Now, lots of people use disposable lighters or even...don't use matches at all, because so many people have stopped smoking and nowadays, pilot lights turn on electronically with a Piezo need to strike a match!
Want to know more more more? clicky here

People used to carry wood matches in little boxes that came in zillions of shapes and made in all kinds of materials.
Here's mine...from one of my favorite eras...and look at that script !
a little wishbone on the back....
Compliments of The Dave Blake Co. Tacoma Everett Olympia.
The little top lifts and you can store matches in there.....I store other things.....

20s era silver match safe kept the matches safe (hence the term) and you'd pluck a match out and then strike it against a textury surface...a brick, the street, the sole of your shoe.
from etsy seller EvettaHill

Matches were first made of wood sticks with explosive chemicals glued to the end, and then sold  in paper boxes of a tiny size, about 1" x 2", and then, a bigger size, about 3" x 5". Here's a holder that you'd always see in the kitchen to light the cooking stove if it ran on light the pilot light. Or, kept in the living room to light the fire if you had a wood stove to warm the cabin.
So common was the box of matches in everyday life....even...little toy cars...Matchbox Cars, the size of a .......matchbox! were named for the tiny box of matches.

an old tin matchbox'd slip the open box of matches inside with the scratchy strike paper on the sides....the slots on each side allowed you to strike the match and light the pilot light....
from etsy seller sofralma