A Matchbox

A phillumenist I am certainly not. Phillumenists collect match boxes. The word, coined in 1943, comes from the Greek language. The ‘phil’ part means love and the ‘lumen’ bit means light. It was once a popular hobby and match making companies pandered to it by producing series of matchboxes in much the same way as various product manufacturers came up with cards – cigarette and tea companies particularly.

I have never collected matchboxes, yet I have one in my collection of odds and ends.


Well, this is old, battered and faded, but regular readers will recognise my interest in this box. It has a steam loco on it. This loco was built by the London Midland and Scottish Railway in an attempt to steal some glory from the rival company’s (LNER) A4 class of locos which included the world record holder, Mallard. I believe they were good engines but by the time I knew them the streamline casing had been removed and they looked like a conventional loco.

And here, the Southern Counties Match Co, of Poole is cashing in on two interest groups – the matchbox collectors and the train enthusiast. And as we see, there wasn’t just the one box to buy, there were 100 – each holding 48 matches made in Austria. That seems like a heck of a lot of matches to get through to complete the set but I suppose a smoker would get through them quickly enough.

I believe real collectors removed the label front and stuck them in albums. If you were keen you can find complete sets on auction sites. They don’t seem to make much money. Nobody selling them seems to date them so I can only guess at 1960s.

But as ever, cash value doesn’t matter to me. I have things only if I like them.


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2 Responses to “A Matchbox”

  1. Thom Hickey Says:

    Philumenist! Excellent word. Now how can I shoehorn that into a conversation soon? Regards Thom.

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