A Collectible Matchbooks Buyers' Guide

Since 1894, when Pabst Beer ordered the first promotional matchbooks on record ever made, businesses and individuals have been placing their logos, slogans, and artwork on matchbook covers to promote their products and services. Years later, many of those now-vintage matchbooks have become collectors' items. Learn how to identify valuable collectible matchbooks and choose the ones with which to build your vintage matchbook collection.

How do you build a matchbook collection?

There are many ways to build an affordable collectible matchbook collection. The most obvious, perhaps, is to collect only the rarest, valuable matchbooks, whatever the designs on their faces. Alternatively, you could base your collection on a certain category of matchbooks, such as:

  • Products or services - Collect all matchbooks promoting a certain type of product, like automobiles, cigarettes, or alcoholic beverages. You could select a certain brand, like Marlboro, Disney, or the San Francisco 49ers. You could also choose a particular service, like motels, bars, or restaurants.
  • Eras or areas - Collect all matchbooks from a certain date or event, like the 1933 World's fair, a period of time, such as World War II or pre-1900, or only matchbooks from American or European entities.
  • Design - Collect only vintage matchbooks with a front striker, rear striker, or bottom striker. You could also collect only 10-strike, 12-strike, 24-strike, or 40-strike matchbooks.
  • Producer - Collect only vintage matchbooks produced by Diamond, D.D. Bean, Lion, Ohio, Atlas, Federal, or Monarch.
How do you determine the value of collectible matchbooks?

No matter what focus you choose for your matchbook collections, there are certain criteria to look for to help you determine how much any particular vintage matchbooks for sale are worth.

  • Age - The older the vintage matchbooks eBay has listed, the more valuable they may be.
  • Rarity - The fewer copies of a particular matchbook that were produced or remain in existence, the more valuable they are likely to be.
  • Condition - The closer to new or as-new condition collectible matchbooks eBay has listed may be, the more valuable they may be as well.
Some rare, valuable matchbooks

Examples of some highly sought-after vintage matchbooks include:

  • Matchbooks for sale that were originally printed between 1894 and 1929.
  • Any XL, or extra-long, matchbook covers made before vending machines were invented in 1883.
  • Matchbooks with certain footers like blot-r match, For Safety, Green Hat, Diamond Match, and Safety First.
  • Popular matchbook sets like "girlies," "midgets," U.S. Navy ships, major political campaigns, railroads, trucking, radio, and TV.