Matches & matchbooks
December 11, 2004 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Matches & matchbooks: History (and more history [urine???]), museum, the matchbook inventor, how safety matches are made, the matchbook as artform & chronicle of the 20th Century, obsession, or just an interesting diversion. Attempting to go match-less?
Hopefully an educational and entertaining weekend diversion on the subject of portable fire the old-fashioned way.
posted by spock (11 comments total)
Part 1 of the "Phosphorus: From urine to fire" article from Chemistry In Action.
posted by spock at 12:19 PM on December 11, 2004

I really like this site for 40 - 60's match book art and goofiness.
posted by joelf at 12:26 PM on December 11, 2004

Agree, joelf, about that site...I can spend hours there (and have done so).
posted by 1016 at 12:27 PM on December 11, 2004

I'm a big fan of "flexibles" -- and have dug the idea that you can light them with one hand, with a flip of an agile digit. As a yute, I knew several fellows who collected matchbooks -- though they were hardly as interesting as the some of the links here --

Also, in college, an artist colleague (har!) had a zillion matchbooks printed up featuring only his face and his name; on the inside, an address. He handed them out like business cards. A little morning ramble there, sorry.

re: I really like this site for 40 - 60's match book art and goofiness.

wow -- that's a fine collection! It's like a series design tutes, what with matches having what, 4 inches square to work with? Brilliant work.
posted by undule at 12:36 PM on December 11, 2004

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of the ever-present box of matches on the kitchen counter of one of the houses that we lived in when I was a kid. My mother would buy boxes of matches. The boxes came wrapped in white paper. The books had psychedelic 60's designs a la Age of Aquarius. I used to sit for hours examining each cover, admiring the art, and sorting them into piles. Years later I can look back and think gee, it wasn't too smart to make matches that were attractive to kids and what the hell was my mother thinking let me play with them? I can still picture on particular cover that had a picture of a blonde woman with stars in her flowing hair. Ah, memories. I'd love to see pics of those matchbooks.
posted by Juicylicious at 1:04 PM on December 11, 2004

Someday I'll scan in my collection. In the meantime, thanks for the links!
posted by me3dia at 1:38 PM on December 11, 2004

I'm a big fan of matchboxes. They're just way too fun to make stuff with. If I can find enough, I'm gonna make one of these.
posted by Orrorin at 1:40 PM on December 11, 2004

I really like this site for 40 - 60's match book art and goofiness.

Y'all realized that was the museum link in the original post, right?
posted by spock at 3:36 PM on December 11, 2004

great stuff--thanks!
posted by amberglow at 3:41 PM on December 11, 2004

very nice link.
reminded me that I need to renew my search for Swan Vesta matches in the US...
posted by Busithoth at 4:07 PM on December 11, 2004

Favorite all-time matchbox story care of the sculptor Alberto Giacometti: Invited to provide a sculpture for the central courtyard of one the pavilions at the Swiss National Exhibition in Zurich in 1939, Giacometti showed up at the venue a few days early. A truck was ordered to collect the work from the station, but Giacometti - pulling a large matchbox from his jacket pocket - said "There's no need, I have it with me".

Inside the box was a two-inch plaster sculpture, intended for the huge plinth in the central courtyard.
posted by derangedlarid at 7:59 PM on December 11, 2004

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