These matchbooks are unique time capsules that reflect a past characterized by contradiction, naivety, and male dominance. My father, an avid collector and photographer, originally bought these covers at a garage sale for $10 in Kansas City, Missouri. They later served as typographic inspiration during my time at Parsons School of Design. As a graphic designer, I was immediately drawn to them by their strong use of colour, expressive typography, and interesting depiction of that era.
It wasn't until working at Mucca Design that Matteo Bolognia recommended we curate them on a website to share with a larger audience. During the research phase of the project I quickly became interested in the history behind the illustrated matchbook ads. The Golden Era’s main outlet for advertising was through the use of matchbooks since almost 70% of the population were smokers, a majority being men. The matchbook designs of this era turned an object that makes fire, a necessity to survival, into novel entertainment for selling haircuts and alcohol. It was not uncommon during this era for one smoker to light another's cigarette and have conversation spark from the humorous subject matter of the matches. Below i’ve chosen five from the collection that are as graphically fascinating as they are morally questionable.