Vintage Pen Matchbook Advertising

You have seen matchbooks before and you likely have one or two books in your home for emergency use, lighting candles, or even for that celebratory cigar. A matchbook is a small paper folder that holds up to a couple rows of matches and a striking surface. It is not unusual to find a blank matchbook cover but more often than not, the cover will be printed with a logo, artwork, or advertisements.

Phillumeny: the act of collecting matchbooks, labels, and match-related items. – Wikipedia

During the 1940s and 1950s, matchbooks manufacturing peaked and the decline has been steady since then as a result of disposable lighters and anti-smoking health campaigns. (A New Old Freebie: Restaurant Matches Return, 2010). Like much fountain pen ephemera, matchbooks have regained popularity as a retro advertising item.

Restaurants, particularly high-end ones, have bowls of matchbooks with their own logo printed on them. Other companies that have advertised on matchbooks include Wrigley’s gum, Carter’s Ink Co. (see image), various clubs and hotels, beer, bars, and much more – some we are all familiar with, and others so small and local we wouldn’t know them unless we’ve been there! Therein lies the fun and appeal of matchbook advertising – the books themselves make cute and practical souvenirs. From the fountain pen hobby, it’s easy to see how phillumeny is appealing!

Matchbook Carter

Image credit: eBay seller thepaperking3

Do you have any matchbooks with pen-related advertisements on it? Please share them with us in the comments below!


Heron, Katrina (October 20, 2009). “A New Old Freebie: Restaurant Matches Return”. The New York Times. Retrieved 31 July 2010.

Image credit: eBay seller thepaperking3

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