Phillumenisty made easy

Are you a phillumenist? You could be and not even be aware of it. Phillumenisty is the hobby of collecting matchbooks. It is a pastime of general interest, which requires no scientific knowledge. The number of subjects is almost limitless.

Matchbooks. Some are colorful, some are creative, some elegant, others cheap. Most of them fit in your pocket or purse, and you can take them with you even if you don’t smoke, as a reminder of where you have been.

Look at a matchbook closely. What information does it convey? What does it tell you? Does it welcome you to a restaurant? Does it invite you to stay at a hotel, inn or motel with a tempting list of amenities – heated pool, sauna or room service?

Collecting and displaying your matchbooks can quickly become an entertaining hobby. Once your friends become aware that you are a collector, they’ll be offering to add to your collection. There are many active matchbook collector clubs, both local and on-line. To buy, sell or make trades, consider joining their ranks. A club is a good place to learn the ins and outs of collecting, storing and displaying your collection.

* In 1889, Joshua Pusey, a Philadelphia lawer was credited with creating the first matchbook.

* A particularly famous early advertising matchbook appeared in 1895, when the manager of the Mendelson Opera Company bought 200 blank matchbooks and had hand-printed messages and pictures of the opera’s leading players put on them to entice folks to attend his shows. There is only one copy of this matchbook left today.

* This first large-scale sale of matchbooks was made in 1902, when a salesman for Diamond Match Company placed an order for 10 million matchbooks from Pabst Brewing Co.

Throughout the 1920’s, matchbooks became the most popular form of advertising in America. Back then, a professionally printed case of 2,500 matchbooks would cost just under $5.