Phillumeny...

Not many publications are going to give you a ‘yes, please’ for a write-up about your dad’s matchbooks collection. So, I guess that’s perhaps a reason to have a blog, so I can write about my dad’s matchbook collection. No, don’t go away...

He’s got 10 files filled with them, as well as a huge bag of doubles, which he collected in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Since then, they’ve been gathering dust – and possibly creating a bit of a fire hazard – in my parents’ study... (I wrote about some of the cool things I found in their garage before.)

Matchbooks (cardboard folders filled with matches) were used for promotional purposes and people still collect them. If the question ever comes up in Trivial Pursuit, collecting match-related items is called phillumeny or phillumenism. According to Wikipedia, the word is “derived from Greek phil- [loving] + Latin lumen- [light]”.

The dad – or the former phillumenist – travelled a lot for work and got most from all over South Africa, as well as some from other countries. Most of them trigger memories of places where he’s been; where he was working at the time etc.

These promotional take-aways are awesome little snapshots of design and quirkiness. And he’s got some old school Joburg ones too. Here they are, as well as some of my other favourites and a rowwe one way below:

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