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Sunday, April 5, 2009

You might want to set a match to this one!

I have always been a fan of Science Fiction, but it wasn't until a tag sale in the summer of 85 when I picked up a book to read on the job (as a projectionist at the Cinema on North Street in Danbury, CT.), Robert Heinlein's "The Number of the Beast". It would be an understatement to say I liked the book. I went on to read just about everything he ever wrote. It was Heinlein's ability to develop rich characters and weave them into an experiential journey of science and fantasy that grabbed me. I know what you're thinking, "Buy a book to read on the job?" The job of a projectionist in those days was still tied more to the fire codes and the work was mainly monitoring the equipment in case something went wrong. Once the film was threaded in the projector and rolling, the rest of the time was spent waiting, and during the down time it was possible to catch up on some reading.

So what has this got to do with match books? If grasping one item can alter the course of your life (such as the Heinlein novel above), then hunting for treasure becomes an exciting gambit. What will the next "find" bring? A new way of thinking, a new talent, some small evolution? Maybe nothing at all, but digging through the past can bring some interesting twists and turns to what might be an otherwise uneventful afternoon raking leaves in the yard.

A week ago, while driving around in search of something (that isn't yard work), I found a sale in Bethel, and while any sale can be a boom or a bust, this one had all the makings of being one of the worst. For starters, it was a repeat. These are all too common, however, you only need to have one success at a repeat sale to get over the disappointment. I took a chance and my companion and I made our way to the front lawn of a home in sore need of not so much a "makeover" as a "do-over". This year as in others they had an assortment of tools, hardware, and cameras (an odd but attractive mix) and a table of assorted items, mostly old. I was drawn to the old cigar box of match books. Not something I collect, but there was one I had never seen before:
Now, there's a provocative matchbook. They usually have staid advertisements for restaurants or hotel chains. What is "Easy to Pick Up"?
The person behind the table said "2 bucks for the lot of those." Well, since I was looking for something I could bring home to paw over, this one matchbook had me sold thinking it was a WWII -era piece. I am still researching this, and I have found a similar style was distributed in the 40's. I would have guessed by the "lady" that it was likely closer to the Vietnam era. The cigar box was full, but I usually will stop looking (read drooling) so as not to give the seller an indication that they might have spoke to soon on the price.

Match books are an interesting snap shot of their time. The information about this candy is from the New England Candy Company, whose claim to fame these days are "Conversation Hearts", Clark Bars, and Necco wafers. A representative of the company who had surprising little background for this product told me that this was sold starting in 1938 and discontinued in 1998 when they purchased the Clark Bar. I had never heard of it until I saw the match book.

Without any actual dates printed on the book I could be forever guessing the date of these. The image of the phone to the right could be a good indicator, or maybe finding out the inception of yellow pages. I, truthfully, don't need to know the age of everything I find, I just think they're cool.

The ones that really grab me are the local landmarks that are no more. Take a look at these next ones (Click on it to see the larger size):

I can't find good information about this grand structure, though I know it was a significant Danbury landmark for many years. I can't rely on the internet to answer all my questions I may just have to visit the analog version of the internet: the library. This post will be continued.

1 comment:

  1. The VD matchbook is a classic...I cant even explain the visions I have of what must have been one hell of a planning meeting to brain storm that match book roll out.


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