Matchbooks as Decoration Make neat straight lines or hanging banners for a unique décor for a man cave or den. If you have empty picture ledges, get a few transparent glass jars with lids and fill each one halfway with matchbooks. Arrange them along the ledges to create an eye-catching display.
Matchbook covers are easy to find at yard sales and give your collection a makeover. Remove the cover from each book and glue it onto a piece of cardstock or thick paper. You can also draw on the covers with markers or paint them different colors.
Dispose of matchbooks in garbage cans rather than recycling bins because they contain phosphorus and sulfur compounds that cannot be recycled in most areas.
Phosphorus is used in many products including fertilizer, phosphoric acid, and matches. It can cause damage to equipment if not disposed of properly. Sulfur is used in chemical batteries and fireworks and can lead to new pollution problems if not handled properly.
Recycling matchbooks is recommended but not always possible due to the number of books collected in each case. If this is an issue for you, look for recyclers that will accept damaged or obsolete books.
Matchboxes are a convenient size for packaging and concealing items. After the holidays, you may store them alongside other Christmas decorations or unwrap them and utilize them for something different. Either way, matchboxes are a useful item to have around your house.
Some may have imagined that restaurant matchbooks were phased out with the addition of smoking areas, but restaurants are still producing them—and they are not going undetected. The former is still true, but matchbooks are now mostly used for decoration, and many are preoccupied with showing off their collections. If you come across one while sitting at a table reading this article, don't worry about using it; they're not meant for lighting cigarettes.
The first matchbook was patented in 1872 by Isaac Kempf Jr. He sold rights to William Bickel and James Henshaw who then licensed them out. By 1880, nearly every male in America had received one as a gift or purchase. In those days, matches were very expensive (1/4 ounce of candle wax cost 5 cents), so people loved having unique matchboxes to display. As for why they were given away in some places and sold in others, that's due to local laws regarding smoking. Some cities and states allowed it only in bars and restaurants, so they made sense as a promotional item. Others banned it completely so matchmakers had to find other ways to get people interested in their products/services.
Today, matchbooks are used mainly as decorations. They are printed on one side only and show pictures of events/locations/people who work at the restaurant. The other side has space for notes from guests about their experience there.
Shedlow estimates that there are around 7,000 matchbook cover collectors. According to Shedlow, the actual value of every matchbook cover is determined by its collector value. A cover depicting Prince Charles and Lady Di is only worth 15 cents because it was mass printed recently. Even if it was printed in the 1950s or '60s, it would still be worth only 15 cents because no one would pay more for it.
Matchbook covers have great potential as investment assets because they can be collected over time and their values increase as new editions are produced. However, like all investments, you should consider how much time you want to spend on collecting versus how much you want to invest.
Matchbook covers are a great way to start investing because they are easy to find and cheap. If you are just starting out, you may not want to invest too much money in matchbook covers because you don't want to miss out on any valuable prints. But if you know you are going to be investing for years to come, then by all means purchase some beautiful covers at very low prices.
The best place to look for information about matchbook cover values is with people who deal in old books because book dealers understand what will sell and what won't. You can ask them questions such as "What are Prince Charles and Lady Diana's cover worth these days?" or you can simply browse their shops and pick out covers that interest you.