How matches work.

Taken for granted by many today. Matches brought a portable fire source to us all. I was deeply involved in Phillumenyas a kid. I collected matchbooks any time my parents visited a new motel or restaurant or any place that gave them away… I had easily over 600 matchbooks from 15 or more states. All given to me free as promotional items from businesses. I sold the collection after college.

I also collected vintage Vesta cases (match safes). People today don’t realize early matches were very volatile and unstable. They could spontaneously ignite and cause fires. They had to be stored and carried in a match safe aka a Vesta case. I still have 14 vintage Vesta cases in my collection and don’t plan to ever sell them. I had 30 before I slimmed down my collection.

Modern safety matches made Vesta cases obsolete. Hallmarked silver Vesta cases are very collectible and valuable. They can be dated precisely from the hallmark.

A fascinating article and slo-mo video on how a safety match ignites. Did you know ground glass was used? I didn’t.

What’s a collection of 600+ promotional matchbooks fetch?

I got $125 for mine in 1992. Not bad since all the matchbooks were given to me free. I’m sure a collection like mine, that covered many different states, and were in prime condition would fetch several hundred today on Ebay.

It’s something that can’t be replicated today. Very few businesses give away promotional matchbooks with their name,address and logo anymore. A lot of the businesses on old matchbook covers don’t even exist anymore.

I always thought how cool it would be to retrace my childhood steps. Visit the addresses on my matchbooks again. See how many are open. How many even have the same building at that address. But I sold the collection. We were afraid our young kids would find it. :eek: 600 matchbooks would make a big ass fire.

Theo Gray shows you how to make your own matches at home on his Mad Science website.

as he says, you probably SHOULDN’T try this at home.