Matchbox Labels

My interest in matchbox labels lies primarily in the design but also the concept that these small images can communicate to a large number of people.

1950s and 60s Eastern European labels captivate me most. Why did this area of the world embrace modern design and imagery when many countries, including Britain, still preferred the Victorian aesthetic?

Subject matter is also fascinating. As with advertisers, governments were quick to realise the potential of these far reaching messages. Propaganda was popular but so too was public service announcements including fire safety, hygiene, money saving, alcohol abuse and road safety.

This combination of subject and design has left behind an invaluable archive of its time.

Update: Book and posters available at

matchbox labelsmatchbox labels
matchbox labelsmatchbox labels

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DAVE CLARK July 22nd, 2007

I`ve just come into possession of hundreds of Polish matchbox labels……are you interested?

bill reynolds September 17th, 2007

Jane, I have, from time to time, collected matchbooks. I have never met anyone else who collected matchbooks but I do find them very interesting…I had a collection from the fifties that were somehow lost and I started again in the seventies and eighties.

I find the changing graphics fascinating…most of my collection is North American with some European and South American pieces included.

kindra September 19th, 2007

I spent some time in Estonia last summer hoping to acquire some of these lovelies… you are one lucky lady to be surrounded by such gems.

Jules Gilliam February 13th, 2008

Wondered if you could help , I work in Theatre and we are doing a 1930’s show set in Massachusettes which requires match boxes. Do you know where we would find some in England?? Love your site.

Jane February 13th, 2008

Thanks for getting in touch. All my matchbox labels come from ebay. There are a few people that I regularly buy from. Here are links to their items

Otherwise a search on ebay should get you plenty of results.

I hope this helps. Good luck with your production.

Nick Halahan February 26th, 2008


great to see these online thanks for putting them up. when i was traveling in india i began collecting match boxs after i asked for a light and the guy said keep the whole box – it had a lovely peacock design and from then on each new place i went i would track down new boxs, feeling at home in a new place if i recognised the box! some jems abandoned on the roadside too.

big up and thanks jane!

Schmierwurst April 1st, 2008

Thanks for sharing your amazing and so beautiful collection. Found it by a link on
Is it possible to get the pictures in an archive, zip-file or the like?

Jane April 1st, 2008

I’m afraid I only keep my very hi res versions – which would be too big to send. After I have uploaded to flickr I bin the ones I have prepared – because they are always on the web if/when I need them.

yogesh October 14th, 2008

Hi Jane
Thanks for sharing this rare collection.I am yogesh from India.A product designer by profession and a passionate match box collector(own over 5000).I really appreciate the easter european style of illustrative lables.So clear and informative.Even color composition, symmetry and message style is direct.
I was just wondering if yu can help me to improve my collection by exchange or sharing few.
Thanks again for sharing these beautiful pieces.

[email protected]

will await ur reply.

Andy December 25th, 2008

Hi Jane,

I love these. I saw some of them and found your web address in the latest McSweeney’s. Thanks for putting this together.


Tandberg July 13th, 2011

Hello, I found our blog about matchboxlabels while surfing on the net.
I just want to tell you that I have been collecting matchboxes and labels since I was a boy in the mid-sixties.
I have about 100,000 different from all over the world.
If you like, please check my website:

dee October 17th, 2011

hi jane hope you still love the matchboxes 🙂
i have been collecting them since i was 7 and my dad shouted at me for picking one up from out of a gutter but i said dad its pretty the rest is history… 37 yrs later i am now swamped by them and trying desperately to motivate myself to ebay them
i still find them lovely butspace consuming xx

Paul Dobson November 15th, 2013

Great looking through your Flickr set, pictures look great. Set out realy well.I wish i could make mine look as good, mine are all shapes and sizes.


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