As with other collectibles, condition and age are of prime concern with matchcovers and matchboxes, and collectors, of course, are always after pristine examples and thus check for several types of damage:
>Bobtailed:In the early days of matchcover collecting, collectors often cut off the striker portion of the cover. Such covers are called 'bobtailed' covers and are worthless.
>Cut Corners: Also in the early days, some collectors would cut the corners off covers (usually on the bottom) so that they would slide into slotted aubum pages more easily. Sometimes, on boxes, someone has simply opened them up by cutting them open instead of opening the glued surface...a no-no.
>Gluing: Sometimes, older covers will be seen to have been glued onto album pages. This ruins the inside of the covers and obliterates any text or design which may have been there.
>Struck: This is by far the most common form of damage. Every time a match is struck against the striker, a mark is left . These are referred to as 'struck covers' and are generally unwanted by collectors, except, perhaps, as 'temporaries' until unused examples can be found.
>Oxidation:Strikers are suceptible to oxidation, usually brought on by being stored under higher levels of hunidity. The strikers may have turned green or otherwise discolored or become very soft and easily broken.
>Color Fading: Covers that have been exposed to bright light for an extended period of time will fade.
>Creasing: Here, covers have been crushed in one way or another, and the result is permanent crease marks on what should be a uniformly smooth cover.
>Water Damage: Covers that have been damaged by water or other liquids will be stained and/or have a 'rippled' or 'wavy' texture.
>Punctures: Holes in covers have usually be caused by tacks, when the covers have been tacked to a wall, etc.
>Writing: Covers that have been written on on the outside have been ruined (except, of course, if the writing is a celebrity signature). Writing on the inside is not as serious, and pencil, at least, can be erased.
>Dirty: Covers that are dirty, for whatever reason, are usually of little interest.
>Wear and Tear: simple wear and tear, caused by excessive handling and improper storage. Such covers will show frayed edges and/or small nicks and tears again on the edges.
All of the above types of cover damage will lessen collector interest and often render the covers of no interest at all. So, the general rule here is that anything that detracts from the original condition of the cover detracts from collector interest and value.
The other major factor is age. Although non-collectors are always calling their 1970s, 1960s matchbooks 'old', within the hobby it's not old unless it's pre-World War II (pre-1941), and even then most of this old material is not particularly special otherwise. That's where categories come in. For example, a 1930s cover from a laundry or insurance company may only elicit a yawn, whereas a 1930s cover from World's Fair or Navy Ship may elecit a 'Wow!'.
>Pre-1930s covers are relatively rare and would be of interest no matter what the specific category.
>Post 1950s covers, even though some may be approaching 60 years old, are all pretty much run-of-the mill for collectors. They are much more numerous and common. That doesn't mean they are not wanted by the collector, though. If they fall into his or her preferred categories (RRs, Holiday Inns, Chinese Restaurants, whatever), the interest will still by high.

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