Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Lowell Root, Practicing Phillumenist and his Matchbox Collection (Not Match.Com)

Did young Lowell Root KNOW he was practicing Phillumeny? I think he was probably a Phillumenist without being aware of it. But something drew him to the graphics applied to small wooden boxes which held safety matches. Who can blame the boy? Colors, shapes, the allure of a phosphorus burst striking on the side of the box.

I found this amazing scrapbook of wooden match covers not long ago. Lowell carefully numbered each piece and stored them as well as he could. At one time, I have read, there were more match labels than there were postage stamps. Hard to believe, but then I guess you can consider which was more important in 1920, when this collection was put together...mail or fire? A toss-up.

I do not collect matchboxes. I also do not pass by an opportunity to own someone's collection of cool things. Only a few pages are shown...and some splendid individual examples I favor, including the robot, which is apparently rare and valuable enough for knock-offs to have been produced. Young Root got lucky there. As for "impregnated"...no, you can not fertilize a matchstick. The term refers to the chemicals applied to the tips. It was intended to prevent afterglow (hmm...another term which brings human relations to mind, strike a match indeed) and for some reason that was something to crow about.

The Granddaddy of all Phillumenist collections is, natch, in Japan. Take a Virtual trip through the museum HERE

Large collection of Wooden Matchbox covers, circa 1920-1930 Collection Jim Linderman


  1. The Billiken inspires me. Thanks for the post. TF

  2. That robot image is unbelievable!

  3. What a striking collection! My favorite is the River Life.

  4. I have a collection of three shadow boxes filled with similar old matchboxes. Please contact if interested.

  5. Hello from Denmark,
    very nice labels indeeed.
    I have been collecting matchboxes -labels and match related items since a was a boy in the mid 60s. My collection is now about 100,000 different items from all over the world.
    Please take a look at my collection here: www.tandberg.webbyen.dk