Matchbox Labels

My interest in matchbox labels lies primarily in the design but also the concept that these small images can communicate to a large number of people.

1950s and 60s Eastern European labels captivate me most. Why did this area of the world embrace modern design and imagery when many countries, including Britain, still preferred the Victorian aesthetic?

Subject matter is also fascinating. As with advertisers, governments were quick to realise the potential of these far reaching messages. Propaganda was popular but so too was public service announcements including fire safety, hygiene, money saving, alcohol abuse and road safety.

This combination of subject and design has left behind an invaluable archive of its time.

matchbox labels

matchbox labels

matchbox labels

matchbox labels

24 Responses to “Matchbox Labels”

  1. DAVE CLARK Says:

    I`ve just come into possession of hundreds of Polish matchbox labels……are you interested?

  2. Jane Says:

    Yes definitely!

  3. DAVE CLARK Says:

    Sorry Jane in responding so slowly how do you want to do this.

    Cheers,

    Dave

  4. Matchbox Labels From the 1950’s and 1960’s | Laughing Squid Says:

    [...] York, England designer Jane McDevitt has assembled a huge collection of beautiful 1950’s and 1960’s matchbox labels from around the world (mostly Eastern European). [...]

  5. bill reynolds Says:

    Jane, I have, from time to time, collected matchbooks. I have never met anyone else who collected matchbooks but I do find them very interesting…I had a collection from the fifties that were somehow lost and I started again in the seventies and eighties.

    I find the changing graphics fascinating…most of my collection is North American with some European and South American pieces included.

  6. kindra Says:

    JANE——
    I spent some time in Estonia last summer hoping to acquire some of these lovelies… you are one lucky lady to be surrounded by such gems.

  7. Nina Says:

    The cow wins!

  8. true nature Says:

    these are so wonderful! thank you for sharing them.

  9. Jules Gilliam Says:

    Hi,
    Wondered if you could help , I work in Theatre and we are doing a 1930′s show set in Massachusettes which requires match boxes. Do you know where we would find some in England?? Love your site.
    Jules

  10. Jane Says:

    Thanks for getting in touch. All my matchbox labels come from ebay. There are a few people that I regularly buy from. Here are links to their items

    http://search.ebay.co.uk/_W0QQdfspZ1QQfsooZ2QQfsopZ32QQlredZAny00000QQsassZhobbs1950
    http://search.ebay.co.uk/_W0QQdfspZ1QQfsooZ2QQfsopZ32QQlredZAny00000QQsassZcolin7291
    http://search.ebay.co.uk/_W0QQdfspZ1QQfsooZ2QQfsopZ32QQlredZAny00000QQsassZcornercollectables

    Otherwise a search on ebay should get you plenty of results.

    I hope this helps. Good luck with your production.

  11. H. Michael Karshis Says:

    Amazing set of images – thanks so much for sharing!

    peace,

    HMK

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hmk

  12. Nick Halahan Says:

    hello

    great to see these online thanks for putting them up. when i was traveling in india i began collecting match boxs after i asked for a light and the guy said keep the whole box – it had a lovely peacock design and from then on each new place i went i would track down new boxs, feeling at home in a new place if i recognised the box! some jems abandoned on the roadside too.

    big up and thanks jane!

  13. Vintage matchbox art « Thinkdig’s Weblog Says:

    [...] I absolutely LOVE these vintage matchbox labels. Maraid Design has great examples on their website, as well as these great labels on flickr. I think that collecting these just might become a new hobby of mine. [...]

  14. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Mar. 7, 2008: Gone all porno Says:

    [...] [Art] Here’s a massive Flickr set devoted to (mostly) Eastern Bloc matchbook designs, courtesy of Jane McDevitt. (Above: a design of unknown origin. Link via Jonathan Bennett.) [...]

  15. Schmierwurst Says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing and so beautiful collection. Found it by a link on http://www.drawn.ca.
    Is it possible to get the pictures in an archive, zip-file or the like?

  16. Jane Says:

    I’m afraid I only keep my very hi res versions – which would be too big to send. After I have uploaded to flickr I bin the ones I have prepared – because they are always on the web if/when I need them.

  17. amy korngiebel Says:

    these are absolutely amazing!

  18. yogesh Says:

    Hi Jane
    Thanks for sharing this rare collection.I am yogesh from India.A product designer by profession and a passionate match box collector(own over 5000).I really appreciate the easter european style of illustrative lables.So clear and informative.Even color composition, symmetry and message style is direct.
    I was just wondering if yu can help me to improve my collection by exchange or sharing few.
    Thanks again for sharing these beautiful pieces.

    yogeshmaralkar@gmail.com

    will await ur reply.

  19. Andy Says:

    Hi Jane,

    I love these. I saw some of them and found your web address in the latest McSweeney’s. Thanks for putting this together.

    Andy

  20. Nick Halahan Says:

    Hiya, I found this page a while ago, and thought id come back and put a link to some more match boxs, ones i collected in india and are up on my website http://www.OlasArt.com …cheers again this is a great page.

    Match box set 1 click here
    Match box set 2 click here
    Match boxs painted on a car! click here
    more match boxs on a car click here

  21. Tandberg Says:

    Hello, I found our blog about matchboxlabels while surfing on the net.
    I just want to tell you that I have been collecting matchboxes and labels since I was a boy in the mid-sixties.
    I have about 100,000 different from all over the world.
    If you like, please check my website: http://www.tandberg.webbyen.dk

  22. dee Says:

    hi jane hope you still love the matchboxes :)
    i have been collecting them since i was 7 and my dad shouted at me for picking one up from out of a gutter but i said dad its pretty the rest is history… 37 yrs later i am now swamped by them and trying desperately to motivate myself to ebay them
    i still find them lovely butspace consuming xx

  23. Jack Says:

    This is a great collection, I love your Flickr set.

    http://jackspiceradams.blogspot.co.uk/

  24. Paul Dobson Says:

    Great looking through your Flickr set, pictures look great. Set out realy well.I wish i could make mine look as good, mine are all shapes and sizes.

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