Matchbook collecting is a fun and easy way to create a visual record of your favorite local excursions and broader travels. Hold onto matchbooks from your favorite restaurants, hotels, and even the weddings that you attend. Once, matchbooks were widely prevalent. While bans on smoking have decreased the number of places giving away matchbooks to patrons, a new appreciation for matchbook collecting has seen this trend reverse.
The value of your matchbook collection is measured by the memories you have when you collected them. While many matchbooks have interesting and unique designs, the true beauty in this niche hobby lies in the fun experiences behind the matchbook stories. Matchbook collecting is easy to do and always provides a great conversation piece when entertaining.
The History Of Matchbooks
The first matchbooks came onto the scene in the late 1800’s. Joshua Pusey, a lawyer from Philadelphia, is credited with the invention. He sold the patent rights to the Diamond Match Company and mass production soon followed. Matchbook advertising became extremely popular with big-name customers including Pabst Brewery and Wrigley Gum.
Matchbooks enjoyed continued popularity through most of the 20th century but started to see a decline later on with proliferation of the disposable lighter as well as numerous smoking bans in public venues. However, it seems that this decline in matchbook availability has added fuel to the fire (so to speak) in the popularity of matchbook collecting.
Matchbook Collecting Fun Facts
- Phillumeny, Latin for “light loving”, is the hobby of collecting match related items such as matchbooks and matchboxes.
- John Walker invented the first friction match in England in 1826. The first safety match was invented a short time later in 1844.
- The lighter was actually invented before the modern match.
Getting Started With Matchbook Collecting
It’s quite easy to begin your matchbook collection. When you pass by the hostess stand of a restaurant, take a look to see if there is a basket of matchbooks. Ask the host or hostess, since they may keep these behind the stand. Hotel concierges also may have matchbooks that they keep behind the front desk for smoking patrons and matchbook collectors.
Some matchbook collectors put their matchbook collections in plastic sleeves, in binders. They often use the same plastic sleeves that baseball card collectors use. This is an easy and inexpensive way to preserve your matchbook collection.
Matchbook Collecting Steps
Decide if you want to collect matchbooks, matchboxes or both. Before you start collecting, think of creative ways you’d like to display your collection.
During your leisure time and travels, keep your eyes open for opportunities to collect matchbooks. These include restaurants, hotels, bars, golf courses and more.
Carefully store your matchbooks when you bring them home to avoid any damage. A great way to display your collection is with a display frame made especially for matchbook collections.
Matchbook Collecting Tips And Tricks
The following tips and tricks can help you get the most out of your matchbook collecting hobby…
- Although you’ll often find matchbooks more readily available overseas, keep in mind that it’s against the law to pack any kind of matches in your luggage (checked or carry-on). To avoid this issue, you can remove the matches from the box or book before you return home.
- If you spy someone famous at a hotel or restaurant, grab a matchbook and try and get their autograph on the inside flap.
- If you’re not planning on selling or trading your matchbooks, make tiny notes on the inside flap so you’ll remember any special occasions or events associated with the matchbook.
Expanding Your Matchbook Collecting Hobby
As you build your matchbook collection and would like to expand your hobby, consider a couple of the following ideas…
- Join one of the many matchbook collectors clubs.
- Expand your collecting hobby by buying and selling collector matchbooks.
- Trade matchbooks with friends.
- Build your own matchbook displays.
- Broaden your collection theme to include Zippo lighters, for example.
Related Matchbook Resources
Check out the following resources for additional information on matchbook collecting…
Matchcover Club  – organization where members share their passion for collecting matchbooks and matchboxes. This site offers a ton of collecting information including events, regional club listings, classified ads, helpful collecting tips and more.
American Matchcover Collecting Club  – another organization dedicated to the hobby of matchbook collecting.
Grandpa Jon’s Woodshop  – sells a variety of wood display cases especially designed to help you show off your matchbook collection.