Collecting Matchbox Tops
Matchbox Collecting As A Hobby
I have collected Matchbox Tops since I was just a young lad.
In those days, when many more people smoked and before the days of disposable lighters, it seemed like everyone who smoked (and there were many more then) had a box of matches in their pocket or bag.
Collecting them was easy as they were often discarded on the ground or left lying around at home. Easy pickings and they never cost me a penny! A good, cheap hobby for a youngster, as I was then.
I would often cause my Mother great embarrassment by swooping down on a thrown away matchbox while we were out shopping or walking. But I didn't care. Each one was a treasure found and worth more than she, or anyone else, could ever imagine. Well, to me anyway!
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet I have recently found that I was not alone in this strange collecting hobby. It seems many (well, some!) people also share my delight in this unusual choice of collecting.
I was even more surprised to learn that the hobby of Matchbox Top Collecting even has its own fancy, Latin-sounding, name, would you believe? It is called PHILLUMENY!
Yes, my parent-embarrassing habit of picking up old, dropped-on-the-floor, empty matchboxes is really called PHILLUMENY. Worse still, or maybe that should be Better still, it even has an entry in Wikipeida. Honestly!
Anyway, after re-discovering a couple of biscuit tins full of my, quite extensive, collection of old matchbox tops (I always, carefully, cut out and collected just the label side - to save space) I decided to preserve them for posterity and digitize them!
Here are some of my better 'Treasures'!
A Pretty Matchbox Top. This one has a small value among Matchbox Label Collectors!
Buying and Selling
There is a Market for Matchbox Labels
I didn't realize until researching the subject of Matchbox Tops, or Matchbox Labels as they are often called. for this Squidoo Lens that there is healthy market for these things.
I Googled the name on one of my Matchbox Labels and quickly found a UK site called e-Bid that has many for sale including the one I searched for - Matchbox Box Labels - Nissan Nohrin Kogyo Japan (Flying Swallow) V1.
Not a great value attached to this one but some of the others featuring Elvis Presley, for instance, are being offer for Â£5 each!
Collecting Matchboxes etc is an International hobby, it turns out, with collectors trading Matchboxes all around the Globe!
At least it proves that I am not the only one who has collected Matchbox Tops or Labels!
List of Matchbox Collecting and Trading Sites
I had, at first, thought this hobby of collecting Matchboxes was just something that I did many years ago.
How wrong I was!
It is actually a Worldwide hobby that has many devotees!
Here are a few Phillumeny sites I have come across.
- Matchbox Labels
A UK site Specializing in trading Matchboxes
- E-Bid (UK)
UK auction site with a whole section devoted to Phillumenism
This links goes to a very useful Beginners Guide to Collecting Matchboxes. Recommended reading if are thinks about starting this fascinating collecting hobby!
- The home of organised Phillumeny in Australia
This is a 'Match Cover' collector's site is in Australia.
A US Matchbox Collecting site. They trade World Wide!
- Laura's Emporium
A US based site that has a Phillumeny section
- THE BRITISH MATCHBOX LABEL AND BOOKMATCH SOCIETY
If you are not a Phillumenist but just want to find out about that old matchbox you found under the floorboards or you want to dispose of a collection or find out its value before you sell then feel free to browse this site but you might find the adv
- The Matchcover Vault
A US and Canadian Matchbox site. Lots of useful information about to keep your collection and many other relevant topics.
- The Cumbrian Match Collector
A great personal Matchbox collection
Fire Queen Safety Matches - A very popular brand
Fire Queen matches were probably the most common and easy to find.
The design varied quite subtly and I collected many of these slightly different designs of Match Box Tops.
The Fire King brand was a similar design to the Fire Queen shown here.
A simple design but worth adding to my collection as they are no longer made.
Oldham Brewery Co Ltd
An example of advertising on matchboxes which was very popular some years ago.
This one advertises the now defunct Oldham Brewery Company
It closed in January 1989 so this particular Matchbox top has a little history attached to it!
Bryant and May - A well know UK Match Manufacturer
Bryant and May were a very well known maker of matches in the UK.
The company was purely a match making company located in Bow, London.
The Bryant and May company survived as an independent matchmaker for about 70 years but is now owned by a Swedish company.
Camp Matches - Flags of the World series
This series of matchboxes made by Camp featured Flags Of The World.
This one shows the national flag of Cuba.
Collecting these particular matchboxes would, eventually, have made a great display of World Flags.
Digitizing Your Matchbox Collection.
A Document Scanner Is Ideal For This
Turning those treasured collectibles such as Matchbox Labels, Cigarette Cards, Post Cards or any other flat item is so easy with the right equipment. A Flat-Bed Document Scanner is ideal for this.
True, you could use a Digital Camera, and they would produce excellent results, but they would need to be set up with a Tripod of some description and a way of mount the item, not to mention good, even lighting.
A Document Scanner, however, is ready to go as soon as it's powered up and connected to your Laptop or Desktop PC.
Some scanners, and it's worth checking this out before buying one, allow you to scan multiple items at the same time.
My HP Scanner, for instance, allows me to lay several Matchbox Labels flat on the glass platen. It then detects the individual items and scans each one as a separate file.
This doesn't always work perfectly but all I then need to do is to mark out the corners of each one using the mouse. Anyway it's an easy procedure and certainly a lot quicker than scanning each item one at a time.
If you've already got a scanner check to see if it has this very useful feature or perhaps consider buying a new that has. Even for scanning photos and small documents it is a really labor-saving feature!
Tip: If you've got a Flat-Bed Document Scanner you could also use to to digitize small, but valuable, household and personal items for insurance purposes. Things like watches and jewelry will be recorded quickly and easily. The image quality is surprisingly good too! Use the Digital Camera for bigger items.
Putting your collection of Matchboxes or whatever paper or card based things you have collected on to your PC as Digital Files means you have, in a sense, preserved them for posterity and also that they will get less worn and damaged by being handled.
And, of course, you can then show the world your collection as a Squidoo Lens!
A scanners Is a great way to help catalog your matchbox collection - Just load it up with a few matchboxes and hit the 'Scan' button!
Flatbed scanners make cataloging items like Matchboxes real easy.
Most even allow you to scan several items at the same time.
That can really speed things up if you have a large collection of matchboxes.
Not just matchboxes though. I also use my scanner to make digital copies of old family photos too!
Being able to scan several at once is a real time-saver!
The image quality is surprisingly good considering that they are second-generation copies!
Scanned Matchbox images look great and these digital images can be used for many different projects.
Historia Del Vestido - History Of Dress
A Spanish Matchbox showing pictures of dress throughout history.
Often people would bring home Matchboxes from holidays abroad.
This one from Spain is one of a series showing fashion from earlier times.
The full set would have made a really good addition to my collection.
Spanish Bull Fighting - One of a series of bull fighting matchboxes
I have several of this Spanish Bull Fighting themed matchboxes in my collection.
They feature some quite dramatic events withing the Bull Ring.
These would probably have been brought home from holidays on the Continent many years ago.
Viennese Sausages Matchbox Advert - An Advertising Matchbox
A Dutch or possibly French Matchbox advertising Weense Worstjes or Saucisses Viennoises.
Matchboxes were often used to advertise food and drink products.
This one shows a can of Java brand Viennese Sausages.
Birds of the World - Green Budgerigar.
One of a series of Matchboxes from Bryant and May.
This one features Birds of the World.
What a great collection this would have made!
Unfortunately my collection consists of many single examples of some rather fine themed sets, but no full collections.
Glad that I have even just a few examples though.
Safe Safety Matches - Used on an Oil Refinery!
This story behind this one is quite odd really.
My late Grandfather was a security guard on an Oil Refinery and strange as it may sound Matches were allowed on site, as was smoking in designated areas, as long as the box was marked with a purple pen and registered with the Security Department!
I never did quite figure out how this made them 'safe', but that's what I was told!
Beautiful Matchbox Design - Daiwa Match Company
Of all the Matchboxes in my collection this I consider as one of the most beautiful.
What is the bird? Is it a Stork? What is it carrying in its beak?
Where it came from I have never been able to establish, but it looks oriental to me.
Maybe that's just design although there are some Chinese characters in the background.
I haven't been able to trace the Daiwa Match Company.
Probably long gone now.
If anyone knows anything about this company I'd be very pleased to hear from you.
Waltzing Matilda - One from 'Down Under'!
They don't come from further away than this!
A Matchbook advertising a Bar and Restaurant in Australia.
I've not visited Oz so how I came by this one is anyone's guess.
Vancouver Sailor's Home - Now how did I get hold of this one?
How this came into my possession I have no idea.
Possibly one of those 'How to embarrass my Mum & Dad' moments when I spotted a discarded matchbook lying on the floor, swooped on it and added it to my collection many moons ago.
I wonder if the Vancouver Sailor's Home still exists or if anyone now even remembers it!
Looking on Google Street View it seems that that address is now a new building called Robsons Plaza. Interesting!
The Old Cornish Mine - Probably a tin mine
A Matchbox showing an old Tin mine in Camborne, Cornwall, UK.
This isn't very far from Poldark country.
You may have read The Poldark Novels by Winston Graham.
Or maybe seen the TV series.
History on a Matchbox Top!
Matchbox Collecting Videos - Two Of Them Feature Three Generations Of Phillumenists!
From the young man just getting started with just a few Match Books to the artist tracing his late Grandmother's history through her collection of matchboxes, and his use of Matchboxes in the world of Art, Phillumeny crosses the age boundaries!
Then someone's entire Matchbox Collection on a video lasting just under two and a half minutes. I lost count of how many there were. Hundreds, I suspect!