A funny thing happened on my way to the counter to pay for my purchase.
For some weeks, I had been eying a certain item at a local flea market…a large glass jar that was chockablock with what looked to be hundreds of matchbox covers.
According to the online Collectors Weekly, “Matchbooks have been around since 1892, when Joshua Pusey patented the idea of paper matches, whose tips were dipped in a solution of sulphur and phosphorus and then stapled to a piece of cardboard.”
Phillumenists, as they are known, usually collect just the match cover. They ” ‘shuck’ matchbooks by carefully prying open the staple to remove the matches from the cover. The matches are discarded and the covers are stored flat.”
As an inveterate collector, I was determined to have that jar. When it was finally offered at what I considered to be a half-decent price, I picked it up and began lugging it to the counter.
Another customer, coming towards me and seeing the object in my arms, joked, “Ol’ man, I could’ve given you a light if I knew you wanted one!”
When I got home, I dumped the jar’s contents on my livingroom floor. It was, to say the least, a mixed bag: a collection of lighters, a selection of wine bottle corks, a few rocks taken from only God knows where, three discs for the game called Pogs, and a few coins.
A score or so of “fortunes” from fortune cookies included the following tidbits of wisdom: “You will soon be crossing the great waters,” “A close friend will soon need you,” and “A cheerful letter or message is on its way to you.” Considering what I had paid for the jar, I was especially pleased to read this fortune: “You will soon be rich.”
Obviously the original owner of the jar was, like the undersigned, a generalist collector.
By far, the objects that piqued my attention were the 400-500 matchbox covers. A scan of one of them accompanies this article.
My one disappointment is that none of them are Newfoundland and Labrador related.