If the word phillumeny doesn’t raise any familiar association in your head, let us clear up the topic of our today’s post. In fact, phillumeny is the hobby of collecting different match-related items like matchboxes, matchbox labels, matchbooks, matchcovers, matchsafes, etc. The word has derived from Latin phil (loving) plus lumen (light) and was introduced by the British collector Marjorie S. Evans in 1943.
If you wonder how old this hobby is, we can answer that collecting of matchbox labels emerged together with matches. Some collections contain labels from chemical matches, produced in 1810 – 1815, long before the modern matches were invented.
It’s hard to believe, but the most enthusiastic collectors can be rather ingenious when they want to get hold of the next matchbox. Sometimes even check out of the neighboring trash cans is OK in this hunt. However, today, in the era of internet, such “reeking” methods are gradually replaced by the innocuous theme web surfing, where phillumenists collaborate and replenish their collections with new precious examples.
By the way, Teiichi Yoshizawa from Japan was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s top phillumenist.
Continuing our inflammatory talk, it should be mentioned that collectors are especially passionate about the following match-related items:
- Single-Top Labels (one-panel labels affixed to the top of matchboxes);
- All-Round Labels (labels wrapped around the matchboxes);
- Skillets (labels which design goes around the box and is printed directly onto it);
- Packet-Size Labels (also known as the dozen or gross labels);
- Matchcovers (sometimes erroneously referred to as bookmatches, which in fact are matches inside a matchbook; while the matchcover is actually an empty flattened out matchbook);
- Hardware (match strikers and containers that were in public use from early 19th century to the middle of 20th century);
- Complete Boxes (entire matchboxes including fiery contents).
Now, when we have finished with the types of match-related items collected by the phillumenists, let’s skip to the variety of their designs, which we believe are much more interesting for you. Below we’ve collected 30 + beautiful vintage matchbox designs from all over the world. Have a look at their fonts, images and placement of elements on such limited area. From our viewpoint these labels are rather inspiring, aren’t they?
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