Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Matchbox scrapbook #1-1

Years ago, when I was a student, I found seven scrapbooks with matchbox covers on a flea market. Page after page was filled with jaw dropping designs on all kinds of themes from all over the world. I felt like I found gold! I had little money in me student wallet and was able to afford one book. I was trying to make up my mind which book to pick until I noticed that the matchbox collector made a precise (handwritten) list of the content of each page, in each book -as can be seen on the photo above. I realized that if I bought just one book I would rip his project apart and that would be matchbox collection sacrilege. Also, buying a book about matchbox cover designs in a shop would probably cost more than these seven books together. So I jumped on my bike, took cash from my saving account and bought the whole set.

The size of canvas the matchbox designers and illustrators had to work with is tiny (1.3 x 1.9" / 3,5 x 5 cm) but still most of the art have a great visual impact and therefore almost have a poster quality. The books are high on my list of 'most inspirational books on my bookshelves'. These following weeks I'll post the best of the best/weirdest/prettiest/etc. on the blog.
Below; some covers from scrapbook one, part one.

Is it just me or is her arm out of proportion, i.e. too long? But other than that I very much like the round shapes in the typography and the girl's hair and face of this Belgian cigarette brand Belga. (Link to a nice website -in Dutch only- on 50's (cigarette) design here).

Characters galore! You'll be seeing a lot of those in these matchbox art posts. This guy's from the Belgian cigarette brand Laurens. I wonder if this is a photo of a 3D character. The head and hat looks drawn but the package and his shoes and feet look real...

'Three Mills, self-raising flour'. Dutch design with lovely graphic '3D' effect.

Belgian(?) underwear ad for Avion (which means 'aeroplane' in french). 'Steeds jong met ondergoed' can be translated into something like 'Again and again young with underwear'.

Every scrapbook has at least three pages with celeb matchbox images, like these examples below. They are not very design-ish but the zeitgeist is wonderful and I love the bluntly coloured photo's and the cheap print effect.

Elke Sommer (born Elke Schletz), is a German-born actress, entertainer and artist.

This Dutch musical duo, brothers from Indian descent, covered mostly songs from The Everly Brothers and had a top hit with their 1927's cover Ramona in 1960. Ramona sold more than 7 million copies and was the Blue Diamonds biggest success. Ruud en Riem de Wolff kept preforming until Ruud's death in 2000.
They were quite popular as a match box image. I can easily make a Blue Diamond Matchbox Cover Top Ten.
But I won't.

Tiger Tom!


  1. Brilliant! When I was living in India I used to collect indian match boxes? Do you happen to have any in your book? I would love to see some older designs. Yours seem to have a particular vintage quality.

  2. Yes I do! What's featured here are just a few covers from one book. In the collection I have a scrapbook filled with amazing covers from Japan, China and India. I'll post them soon.

  3. Ich hab hier auch etwas shones gefunden:

    mann mus mal kucken! Viele gruse, Milo