A “matchcover”, or “matchbook cover” is a thin cardboard covering that folds over match sticks in a “book” or “pack” of matches. Covers have been used as a form of advertising since 1894, two years after they were patented [“Flexible Match” patented by Joseph Pusey]. Many historians point to the Mendelson Opera as the first to use matchbooks for advertising purposes; they hand wrote their promotional information on blank matchbook covers made by the Binghamton Match Company between 1893/94. Inspired by the Opera’s innovation, Diamond Match salesman Henry Traute began approaching manufacturers to advertise their products on his company’s matches, promoting them as something that would be viewed by their users many times a day. Thank you to Wikipedia.com.
Matchbooks reached their golden age in the 1940s and 1950s, with fine artwork and a dazzling variety of types and sizes. In the mid-1980s, the American match industry collapsed, a victim of high labor costs and overseas competition, and with the current anti-smoking campaigns and disposable lighters, the easy availability of the matchbook has been on the decline since the early 1990s. Thank you to matchpro.org.
The US pen and pencil industries used matchbook advertising as well. Gary & I we have been collecting images of and actual matchbooks for quire some time now. We’ll be sharing these over our next several blogs. If you have any in your own collection, please let us know and we’ll be happy to add them as well.