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A matchbook is a small paperboard folder (matchcover) enclosing a quantity of matches and having a coarse striking surface on the exterior. The folder is opened to access the matches, which are attached in a comb-like arrangement and must be torn away before use in contrast to a matchbox where the matches are loosely packed in the interior tray.

The exterior of the matchcover is usually imprinted with a producer's logo, often with artistic decorations, or serves as an advertising/promotional media for the undertaking it is sold or handed off in. The ease of making matchcovers of different shapes also made them quite a popular cheap promotional item or anniversary souvenir.

Manufacturing of matchbooks peaked during the 1940s and 50s, then steadily declined because of the availability of disposable lighters and various anti-smoking health campaigns. Recently, matchbooks have begun to regain some of their popularity as a "retro" advertising item, particularly in high-end restaurants.

Although paper matches were patented in the 1880s, an early paper match "folder" was patented in September 1892 by Philadelphia patent attorney American Joshua Pusey, however the matchbook as we know it was patented a few weeks later by Charles Bowman of Lebanon, PA. Pusey challenged Bowman's patent, but Bowman's patent was upheld. Pusey sold his patent to the Diamond Match Trust in 1896 and then served as the company's patent attorney. Bowman's company, the American Safety Head Match Company of Lebanon, PA did not last long, and Diamond Match Co. adapted his design into their product, becoming the first mass-producer of paper matchbooks.

Collecting of matchboxes, matchbooks, match labels and other match-related items is called phillumeny.

Phillumeny (also known as Phillumenism) is the hobby of collecting different match-related items: matchboxes, matchbox labels, matchbooks, matchcovers, matchsafes, etc.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Related Links:

The American Matchcover Collecting Club

The Rathkamp Matchcover Society

The Matchcover Vault

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The Matchcover Collectors Price Guide by Bill Retskin
ISBN: 0930625773 / ISBN-13: 9780930625771
This illuminating guide provides the most accurate and comprehensive coverage of this popular collectible. Updated and expanded, this edition highlights 10,000 items in more than 150 categories ranging from airlines to zoos, details the history of the match and matchcover collecting, and provides tips for new collectors
This is a really great price guide that we use constantly. Lots of nice information. Stan...