Matches Collection


Today in many countries of the world there are various matchbox museums. In European countries such as Portugal, Sweden, Spain, but also in Japan and the America, and in other countries, there are various matchbox museums that are essentially large private matchbox collections, where the visitor can see thousands of matchboxes from many countries around the world.  In the museum located in the city of Tomar, Portugal, and started as a private collection, the “Museu de Fósforos”, you see the result of the obsession and determination of a man, Aquiles da Motta Lima, who is no longer alive· the museum is being managed by his descendants.  This collection started in 1953 and today numbers more than 43,000 matchboxes.

When King Farouk of Egypt was dethroned, he was allowed to take his stamps collection with him, leaving the collection of matchboxes due to its size in Egypt. In 1955, in America, the largest collection was by Charles Edelma of Cleveland with about two and a half million pieces.

In Greece, from the middle of the last century, the collector’s interest in matches began to develop.

The collectible trend was created not only by the fact that the matchbox was a very interesting product, but also by the fact that the matchbox from the last decades of the 20th century began to become an “endangered species”, after losing the “battle” against lighter. The matchboxes, “pyreia”, as was their official name, are slowly but steadily disappearing from our daily lives. It is a common phenomenon for collecting interest to develop when an object loses the necessity of its existence! Maybe, with about a century and a half of use of the matchbox, its life cycle is practically closed, at least in terms of its useful value.

For matchbox collectors, who are diligent in their collection, usually one word is enough to describe their collection· the word is: “Chaos”.

Chaos, because:

-The number of matchboxes that exists worldwide “tends to infinity” and behind each is hidden a different story.

-The area occupied by the matchboxes, even if they are “sachets”, if exposed, may correspond to several tens of square meters.

-Their classification into different categories also requires persistent, long and arduous work.

For these main reasons, most of the collections kept by the few collectors in Greece do not exceed 500 to 1,000 matchboxes and are usually not classified.

In recent years, however, in Greece there has been a growing interest in the Greek matchboxes, mainly of the monopoly, but of course also for the older “pyreia of the Greek monopoly”.