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A phillumenist collects matchbooks

By Alan R. Capon

A philatelist collects stamps while a phillumenist collects matchbook covers and labels. While a flood of new stamps emanate from post offices around the world each year, matchbox label collectors now face slim pickings.

Once upon a time matchbooks (sometimes referred to as penny matchbooks) were extensively used as an advertising medium before cheap pocket lighters replaced them.

Some time ago I was given an accumulation of matchbox “covers” – the matches having been removed from them.

Many Prince Edward County merchants used matches as an advertising medium including The Hi-Spot Lunch Bar “Just the Spot for a Delicious Snack” and Bob Smith’s window service. Shannon Brothers advertised their barber shop as well as pool and billiards while Villeneuve House advertised its dining room and old English pub.

McIntosh Shoes at 177 Main Street, Picton was one of a number of shoe stores serving Picton and area. Long gone from downtown are Anderson’s Shoes, Maher Shoes, Bata and others.

Bruce and Bea at the popular Martin’s Outlet Park advertised cottages, camping, fishing boats, ice, swimming and refreshment and the Village Motel and Coffee Shop (Del and Ruth Boyle) of Wellington advertised luxury units with “guest controlled heat” and free television.

The Royal Hotel’s booklet covers reveal the old-style telephone number where initial letters stood for words, such as Grandview.

The Picton Elks cover claims “Elkdom seeks to make life sweeter, men better and the world happier” while the Hospital Association Women’s Auxiliary states “we appreciate your patronage” at their Gift Shop.

Clubs and associations, railways, airlines (do you remember TCA?), military bases and messes, drug stores, grocery stores, hotels, film studios, election campaigns (“Vote George Hees”).

And Tums “for the tummy” promised quick relief from acid indigestion while even Dr. Barnardo’s children’s homes advertised on matchbook labels.
And, of course, cigarette and tobacco products including Chesterfield, Kent, L & M, Embassy, Winston, Export “A”, Camels, Players, Edgeworth ready-rubbed, Bristol, Woodbine, du Maurier (the label also advertising the Stratford Festival), Export, Newport, menthol-mild Oasis, King Edward cigarillos, and many, many more brands.

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