Have you heard of the term, Phillumeny? If you’ve been someone who has snagged a matchbook on your way out of a restaurant for your collection, you might consider yourself a Phillumenist. Phillumeny is the hobby of collecting matchbooks or matchboxes with Phil coming from the Greek word for loving and Lumen coming from the Latin word for light.
We recently discussed in this post how matchbooks can serve as a small keepsake and memory from a night you’ve had, and here we’re going to go into a little bit about how they got started and their history.
The invention of the friction match that we know today has been credited by The British Matchbox Label and Bookmatch Society to John Walker in 1826. Joshua Pusey has also been associated with its creation when he “patented the idea of paper matches, whose tips were dipped in a solution of sulfur and phosphorus and then stapled to a piece of cardboard”. Did you know that originally the striker was inside of the matchbox alongside the match sticks? It was soon realized how hazardous that was and was then moved to the outside of the box as we are familiar with today. Following the patent, these matchbooks became a way for beer companies to advertise, and others quickly caught on and realized that they also could promote their products. Aside from the advertising element that came with adding their information on the label, matchboxes acted as a practical keepsake as well.
From different colored match tips to more creative takes on a match like shown below, matches became a transportable and fun take on memorabilia.
Matches from Pelton's Garage, Black Horse Ale, and a piece by Aaron Kasmin
And, if you need some for your own business, here are a few examples of some of the ones we've produced. Certainly have come a long way since beer advertising!
Would you consider yourself a Phillumenist?