Sunday, 29 June 2008


One of Dad's endearing (and at times exhasperating) habits is to pick up matchboxes from the ground. As kids we just loved finding different kinds of labels, and soon we got a pretty big collection going. Dad continues to keep an eye open for new and interesting labels.

Match box collecting (a.k.a. Phillumeny) offers an amazing look into cultures by way of those little rectangles packed with bright pictures and text. Indian matchboxes display a huge range of images, ranging from the patriotic to the cute to the slightly bizarre. As kids we loved the series of trains and wild animals that Wimco (Western Indian Match Company) made.
A special joy is to see the way that matchbox makers subtly try to copy each other - with often hilarious results (see the picture for example).
When we were small - the 'Ship' brand was the market leader in Bombay. This position led to numerous knock-offs with names like 'Shape' and 'Sheep' etc.
While in Mussoorie Dad gave us a lovely book called "Matchbook" by Shahid Dantawalla. It is a beautiful and at times rib-tickling collection of matchboxes the author has collected. The book itself is made to look like a matchbox - complete with the book itself sliding out of a matchbox-like cover. Makes me wish I had thought of a project like this myself!
I am really, really tempted to start collecting again.


  1. hi

    This is yogesh here from India. I have been through your blog which is really impressive.
    I am a matchbox collector from India having over 4000labels in my collection.Was just wondering is there any help or contribution in terms of matchboxes would be of great help. Or if you know someone who can help me in this will be nice.

    congrats again for your tiny gifts.



  2. Thanks Yogesh!

    Great to hear that you are interested in this wonderful hobby!

    Dad is the man who does the matchbox labels - but as I mentioned - most of them are just in plastic bags in Mussoorie rather than being displayed!

    How about checking whether there are any yahoo or google groups out there that are discussing matchbox label collecting!

    Thanks for reading - and for your comment!

  3. Hello, I´m from Denmark and I am also a collector of matchbox-related items. I have about 100,000 different from all over the world. Please take a look at my website: