Strike a light!

Matchboxes – When I think about matches and fire, I think of songs which are totally unrelated, but have the word match in them. For example, the movie “Fiddler on the Roof‘” – has a song about a matchmaker, but that has got nothing to do with anyone working in a matchmaker factory. You know,  “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a  match, find me a find, catch me a catch.”  But regardless of my association or disassociation with the word, yes, there are people who collect matchboxes and yes, there are people who design the covers of the matchboxes. (Therefore it involves art). Many of course are simply marketing items for hotels and promotions, however, there is a certain appeal – otherwise, there wouldn’t be worldwide avid matchbox collectors around.

Now, what would you be thinking a collective name might be for those who collect matchboxes? How about Phillumenists?  The term, is derived from phil=loving +  lumen-Latin for light. Here are some examples of matchbox covers from various parts of the world.

As another disassociation, this reminds me of the Hans Christian Andersen story of  ‘The Little  Match Girl’. The story is about a dying child’s dreams and hope, and was first published in 1845. The Little Match Girl uses a succession of matches to keep herself warm during an extremely cold, snowy, winter’s night. On the first lit match, she sees the vision of a Christmas tree and the presents laid out underneath.  On the second lit match, she sees a shooting star, where she remembers her dead grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone has died and is going to Heaven. As she lights the third match; she sees a vision of her dead grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness.  She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can. But to no avail, she runs out of matches and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven.

  • There’s the British made Bryant & May special safety match. This has more ‘bang’, as you get 48 matches in each box. That’s 8 more than the Brazilian offer. It also appears that back in 1982, there was a blank cassette offer. Pity we don’t have the technology to play or record from cassette players anymore.
  • Go North young man,” I hear you say. So why not try Swedish matches? Here we have the Three Stars Safety Matches from Sweden (N.B. you only get 45 in the box). – which is 3 short of the average! or the Solliden-Skansen (picture shown at top of page under the Match-girl story).

This one, I can see being a collector’s item – surely. This is from the Grand Prix Expo of 1958, in the former Czechoslovakia. Now, it’s a matchbox, but it talks about Bohemian glass,  so I’m a bit confused.

  • Moving down to Italy, these extremely exquisite gold-tipped elegant matches are from Florence.  They come in a circular box containing a number of matches. (Although, I’m not about to count them); and the outer box is inscribed Botticelli’s paintings, and contains four head & shoulders sections of famous Botticelli paintings, such as the Venus de Milo.
  • Here is an example of a flip-top matchbook from the Shatin Heights Hotel in Hong Kong. I particularly like the piece of advise to the consumer: “Close cover before striking“. Thanks for that handy tip! This reminds me of another ‘Fire’ song – The Doors, mega-hit:  Come on Baby Light My Fire’.

You light up my life… (courtesy of YouTube), works on both levels here. Not just a torch song, or one reflecting the light of the match, but the lights here could also relate to the neon globes lighting up the Aberdeen harbour. Here’s an example of blatant advertising from one of the world’s most well-known floating restaurants. The Jumbo Restaurant, at Aberdeen in Hong Kong. This venue has floor upon floor of restaurant tables and chairs and a continuous line-up of hopeful diners patiently waiting in queues. If it’s on your bucket list – do it.  The trip in the sampan to get to the restaurant is also well worth it.

Of course, with the much earlier Cheong Ming Match company, they had much smaller boxes, and there is no way you were going to get 48 matches (and the length of each was much shorter), from this company in Macau.

  • Back in the days when you could say that all things were ‘Made in Japan’. These most likely were, and also used as branding for a hotel of the time. Not sure which one. If you know, perhaps you might like to inform us all.
  • When you see a moose head you probably think of Canada, but this one was a ‘freebie’ set taken from the Moose McGillycuddy’s Pub in Honolulu. So, a moose loose in the hoose in Maui, is not really what you might expect.
  • Whilst traversing the large Pacific Ocean, having travelled from Japan, then over to Hawaii, why not zoom back to the Philippines. Here you can easily find some Olivenza Bueno matches very cheaply. Once again, you get 48 in the box.
  • Last but not least. “The Goose”. You’re not a goose is you get these. You get the highest amount of matches in each box in Indonesia. In fact, you get a whopping 50 matches per box. Now, that’s a bargain if ever I saw one.

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“Is It Art?”

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