Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Matchbox labels

When's the last time you saw a matchbox?  I know that you can purchase blank ones now for crafting and art purposes, but honestly - when is the last time you saw a restaurant or bar (or any other place) offering matchboxes?  Wisconsin is entirely smoke-free now so it's very rare to see new matchboxes with the name of an establishment.

I'm saving matchbooks for another post (because I have so many!) - and those you still see from time to time (I was at a funeral in November and was very surprised to see that the funeral home where I was had matchbooks printed with their name; smoking = future customers?).

I LOVE matchbox labels - like stamps, each is a tiny little work of art at best, and a record of where one has been at its most mediocre (and I love those too!).  I just looked it up - the act of collecting matchbox labels is called phillumeny.  :D

In my collection, my favorites all seem to be foreign.  (This actually comes as no surprise to me - for some reason the US is just catching up on design.  We seem to have had an edge in the 40s and 50s, and possibly the early 60s, but then lost it to Europe and South America.  There's a lot of great design out there right now, though - we may have our mojo back.)  Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) has a TON of great ones!  They're so stark and almost primitive - I love that.

A while back I got some marvelous vintage Chinese labels from Wackystuff, whose collection I totally admire as it's probably 100 times larger than mine (he used to own a company called Ephemera, if that's any indication of how much stuff he has).  These babies are OLD.  But check out the lithography!  Just gorgeous.  Thanks Jeffrey! :D

Collecting matchbox labels (and using them in your art, of course!) could allow one to get quite specific regarding the subject of interest.  German food labels?  Check.  :D  (Incidentally, I bought these off of e-bay - the seller's dad apparently collected like I do - only he collected for over 30 years.  This is probably 1/1000 of his collection and as you can see, he was extremely meticulous about it.)

And of course, I LOVE using these little guys in my artwork!  Because the designs are oftentimes so colorful and stark, they always enhance whatever I'm creating.  Here are a few of my faves:


  1. you can still get matchboxes at the Cigar and smoking stores, but they're pretty boring designs compared to the colorful ones you have here!!

  2. Thanks Anne! :D

    Jennifer - I know! You just don't see labels like this in the US. Maybe because, after matchbooks came out, companies went that route instead? Even so, the designs don't compare to these! :D