Matchbooks are a bit like cereal boxes; you just can’t help but read all the little details in that moment of solitude while you’re waiting for someone or something. But of course, matchbooks aren’t what they used to be (then again, neither are moments of solitude).
The whole world doesn’t smoke cigarettes anymore thanks to anti-smoking health campaigns, and the introduction of disposable lighters saw the production of matchbooks, along with those entertaining little adverts, decline after the 1960s. Today I found an incredible collection on the ever-generous black hole of information that is the internet. Thousands of matchboxes from a range of decades and photographed from all sides, and have been archived by Flickr member and collector FlamingTurkeyWings. I rummaged through the entire online archive and picked out the vintage designs and advertising copy that spoke to me most. I also took the opportunity to see which businesses and brands featured on the matchbooks were still operating today and which had been long forgotten.
My search brought some odd little historical facts to my attention…
Hotel St. George, New York [image link] – Once the largest hotel in New York City, it is today a landmarked building, along with its constituent buildings, which were built between 1885 and 1929. Although it no longer operates as a hotel, atop the Clark Street subway station (2 3 trains), the subway entrance still operates inside the Hotel itself, right before the main door leading to the no longer operating ballroom and check-in. The historic building is now being used as student housing for surrounding colleges such as NYU, Pace and The New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts. Part of The Godfather was filmed in the St. George. It’s signage remains for historical purposes. – (more info).
Monte Carlo, Le Casino [image link] – owned and operated by the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, a public company in which the Monaco government and the ruling family have a majority interest. The company also owns the principal hotels, sports clubs, foodservice establishments, and nightclubs throughout Monaco (more info).
Matchbox Cards [image link]
Bagnell Dam Good Fishing [image link]- Originally constructed in 1929, the Bagnell Dam holds back Missouri’s Osage River, creating Lake of the Ozarks. Fishing author John Neporadny Jr. calls the lake itself one of the best bass lakes in the country, but the area below the dam also offers some surprising — if unappreciated — fishing opportunities (more info).
West End Hotel [image link]- No hotel listed at that address today, no further information.
Bankers & Brokers, NY [image link] – No restaurant listed at that address today, no further information.
Hotel Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah [image link] – No information found.
Club Panama, Hyannis, Mass [image link] – Panama Club, a former nightclub in Hyannis (located off Sea and Main streets, where the Dunkin’ Donuts is now) that was a hub of music, dancing and socializing in that era (1940s)… The Panama Club was a very unique spot. The dancing and music made it. It was the place where soldiers congregated. It was the magnate (more info).
Phillip Morris Cigarettes [image link]
Mennen Skin Bracer [image link] – Today Mennen is a brand owned in most parts of the world by the Colgate-Palmolive Company. The Mennen Company was founded in 1878 by Gerhard Heinrich Mennen, an immigrant from Germany. His first product was talcum-based powder, an innovation at the time. The company was led by several generations of the Mennen family before being sold to Colgate in 1992. Today none of the Mennen family is involved in the company or its current parent. Today, the name Mennen is being phased out in some regions and products in many countries are becoming known simply as Speed Stick or Lady Speed Stick. In North America, both products, as well as Skin Bracer and Afta are still being marketed as being “by Mennen,” where the name is still well-known and holds positive connotations (more info).
Gotham Gold Stripe Stockings, NY [image link] – no longer in business (although I did find “the story of Gotham gold stripe hosiery, told in one hundred one-minute chapters for merchants and students of merchandising” – more info).
Cross Roads Café, 1 mile south of Blaine, Washington [image link] – No restaurant listed at that address today, no further information.
When Kentucky Fried Chicken gave out matches [image link]
Walter’s Restaurant [image link] – no address given, no further information
Whistle Orange Soda [image link] – Whistle Orange Soda was introduced in 1925 by soft drink brand Vess Soda. . The Stock Market Crash of 1929 left the company in bad financial shape. The business was sold to Donald Schneebarger, considered a genius at marketing and added several new flavors to the line, many of which are still produced today. Vess Beverage assets and division, Vess Specialty Packaging Company, was purchased in 1994 by Cott (more info).
Automatic Temperature Supplies Inc [image link] – no further information
Natural Bridge Hotel, Virginia [image link] – Still open and once owned by Thomas Jefferson! “I sometimes think of building a little hermitage at the Natural Bridge (for it is my property) and of passing there a part of the year at least.” – Thomas Jefferson, former owner of the Natural Bridge, to William Carmichael, 1786. Hotel website here.
Davis Bros, Atlanta, Georgia [image link] – Although currently listed at 2631 Buford Highway NE in Atlanta, it’s unclear whether it’s actually still open (tips welcome). Founded in 1952, a David Brothers Inc, currently has approximately 10 to 20 employees and annual sales of $1,000,000 to $4,999,999 (more info).
Rancherita [image link]
Space Age [image link]
Buy War Bonds [image link]
Loose Lips Sink Ships [image link]
Waldorf Astoria [image link] – The Waldorf Astoria was the first hotel to offer room service, making a huge impact for the future of the hotel industry. The hotel has its own railway platform as part of Grand Central Terminal, used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and an elevator large enough for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s automobile provides access to the platform. Its name is ultimately derived from Walldorf in Germany and the prominent German-American Astor family that originated there. It started as two hotels: one owned by William Waldorf Astor, whose 13-story Waldorf Hotel was opened in 1893 and the other owned by his cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, called the Astoria Hotel and opened four years later in 1897, four stories higher. Conrad Hilton bought The Waldorf Astoria in 1949 (more info).
The Ritz Carlton, NY [image link] – The first Ritz Carlton Hotel in the U.S. opened in New York in 1911. It was located at 46th Street and Madison Avenue. Louis Diat ran the kitchens and invented Vichyssoise there (more info).
Roadway Poker [image link] – circa 1960s, Roadway Express Trucking with Lucky Match Corp.
Seagram’s King Arthur London Gin [image link] – no longer producing gin, no further information.
Art Instruction Incorporated [image link]- Still in business since 1914! Art Instruction, Inc. was known to many aspiring artists as the Draw Me! School, because of the familiar “Talent Test” advertising campaigns seen in magazine ads, matchbook covers with Spunky the Donkey, TV commercials and online promotions with the “Draw Me!” ad copy. Today, the company is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where it was founded in 1914 as a branch of the Bureau of Engraving, Inc., to train illustrators for both the growing printing industry and the Bureau itself. Artists who received this training through these home study courses entered the fields of newspapers, printing and advertising. Website here.
Merit Fine Radio Parts [image link] – Not a listed company, no further information.
Pepcolite [image link] – no information!
Cascade Inn [image link] – From the Shawinigam Standard, 1968: “The story that the Cascade Inn, owned by Hydro Quebec has been sold for an estimated half million dollars to local businessman alderman Claude Bolduc, who has leased a chain of independent service stations to Texaco, is to say the least premature the Shawinigam Standard was told by a usually reliably source.” It may have been premature, but with no further information, this or something similar was probably the fate of the inn.
Artistic Moth Proof Cleaners [image link] – say what?!
El Patio Del Mar Hotel [image link] – no listing, no further information.
Diamond Match Company [image link] – The Diamond Match Company was the largest manufacturer of matches in the United States in the late nineteenth century. Jarden is the current owner of the Diamond brand, a provider of a diverse range of consumer products with a portfolio of over 100 brands, currently ranked #371 on the Fortune 500.
They do not appear to sell matches.
Discover more from the Matchbook archive here.
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