- WHY YOU'RE NOT GOING
TO BECOME A MILLIONAIRE:
- Before we start treasure hunting,
we need to have a little chat!
I know those covers you have are 30, 40, 50 years old, but they're
not...old! Old, in this hobby, begins with Pre-WW
II material (that's earlier than Dec. 7, 1941). Hard to believe,
but it's already been 65+ years since the end of World War II,
so it's not that difficult to find covers well over half a century
old. They look old; they feel old...but they're not...old!
Still, you could find a cover from the 1930s, and it might not
be of any great interest to collectors. Surprising? Keep in mind
that there have been billions of covers issued
over the last 100 years, so that dandy little 1930s cover you've
just come across might well be an interesting item of conversation
when the relatives come over, but to a collector it may be of
no interest at all. Even most Pre-War covers aren't that sought
after. In the 1940s and 1950s, we hit the Golden Age of matchcovers,
but, although they're 60+ years old, again...they're not really
"old". The 1960s and beyond....forget it! Those covers
may be readily collectible for other reasons, but not for their
In some cases, 'exotic' is a plus; in other instances, it's the
kiss of death! Covers in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc., for
example, are completely unintelligible to collectors here. Plus,
foreign covers are often in 'non-standard' sizes, which makes
them difficult to house. And, most of them are not in the most
desirable categories to start with. I mean, what's a collector
supposed to do with a laundromat cover from New Zealand? On
the other hand, something such as a cover from the Abu Dhabi
Sheraton [ which would be in English] has 'exotic' working
for it, rather than against it. There are also various
categories in Foreign that would always be of some interest...Cigarettes,
Airlines, Girlies, Die-Cuts are the most common, although Foreign
Military and some others would qualify, as well.
- JUNK COVERS:
- Even though there is always someone
(out of the some 7 billion people in the world) who wants anything,
There are a few types of covers that are basically considered
'junk' within the hobby.
- Nationals: are covers that have
no single specific location (city and state), as seen here in
the three covers above. Not all Nationals are junk, however.
As you would expect, most Airline and Railroad covers, for example,
would have no specific location, but they're very collectible
- Non-Categories: There
are many covers that simply raise no interest at all among collectors,
in general, such as the three pictured above. Non-academic schools,
Auction services, Furniture stores, Shoe stores, Chemical companies,
- The point is, that, although the
covers you have may look special to you, they're probably
going to be considered run-of-the-mill material or less to collectors.
So, don't get your hopes up...
- But, even still, there are
- As with other collectible hobbies,
this one has its treasures, and, as with other collectible hobbies,
you just have to know what to look for.
- So, now that we've narrowed down
what 'old' is, let's look at covers from the c. 1894-1941 era.
From a collecting standpoint based on age, that era can then
be broken down to:
- > whatever it is, it's a treasure!
> Only some are treasures
- OK, so...you're a non-collector
or a novice; tragically, Aunt Martha in Pocatello has just passed
away and part of your inheritance is two old cardboard boxes
of matchbooks. How do you find the treasures, if there are any?
Well, the first guideline is readily obvious. Most (but not all,
so this is not 100% infallible) of the pre-1935 matchcovers had
noticeably wider strikers, so look for those and put those aside
immediately for further consideration later.
Notice how the American striker
on the left is vertically wider than the Lone Star striker on
- Another item to check is the overall
length of the matchcover. Before the advent of vending machines,
most old covers were longer than what we're used to today. Look
at this example:
Compare the regular length
of this 1950s Lone Star cover with this "extra-long"
(XL) or "tall" old Federal cover from the early 1930s.
- Any XLs you come across you can
immediately put aside as keepers, as well.
- After looking at the striker width
and the cover length, you really have to start knowing what you're
looking for from this point on. You don't have to be knowledgeable
to know you've struck treasure when you find a cover with Babe
Ruth on the outside and a 1919 calendar on the inside. Other
than that, however, you'll need to become familiar with manufacturers,
manumarks, and footers (see Reference
Publications). Here's a quick crash
course, but you'll need to read the Manumarks
and Footers page first:
- Any covers by these manufacturers
are treasures, some more than others though:
- [* = highly
- Acme Match Co.
- Acorn Match Co.
- Advance Match Co.
- Advertizit Match Co.
- All Trades Match Co.
- Art Match Co.
- Atlantic Match Co.
- Atlas Match Co. (NJ/NY)*
- Bell Match Machine Co.
- Book Match Co.
- Central Match & Label Co.
- Circle Match Co.
- Coast Book Match Co. *
- Columbia Match Co. (WI)
- Crown Match Co.*
- Empire Book Match Co.
- Empire Match Co.
- Federal Match Co./Corp.*
- Gem Match Co.*
- General Match Co.*
- Gopher Match Co.
- Hellman Match Co.
- Hercules Match Co.*
- Jersey Match Co.*
- King Midas Match Co.*
- Manhattan Match Co.*
- McGill Match Co.*
- National Match Co. (NY)*
- Owname Renewable Matchbook*
- Rex Match Co.
- Standard Match Co.
- Star Match Co.*
- Tulip Match Co.
- Union Match Co.*
- Any covers with these
footers are treasures:
- [These are
all highly sought after]
- blot-r match
- ACME QUALITY
- AMERICAN QUALITY
- ART MATCH QUALITY
- CLOVER FARM QUALITY
- DIAMOND QUALITY
- EDDY QUALITY
- EMPRESS QUALITY
- MAGNA QUALITY
- STONE'S QUALITY
- SUPERBA QUALTY
- UNION QUALITY
- UNION MATCH QUALITY
- for Safety
[by Ohio Match Co.]
- FOR SAFETY [by American Match]
- FOR SAFETY [by Columbia]
- DIAMOND MATCH
- GREEN HAT
- SAFETY FIRST [from any company, but the following manufacturers
are noted for their early Safety First covers:]
- -Advertizit Match Co.
- -American Match Co.
- -Art Match Co.
- -Atlas Match Corp.
- -Diamond Match Co.
- -Hercules Match Co.
- -Jersey Match Co.
- -Lion Match Co.
- -Manhattan Match Co.
- -Royal Match Co.
- -Universal Match Corp.
- Note: I maintain the listings on
all of these old covers. Each list identifies the covers that
are known to exist, and each list is updated annually or semi-annually,
as needed. The list may include only a few covers or thousands,
depending on how prolific the manufacturer was. If you're going
to collect such covers, you may find such listings useful. See
- And, after all that is said and
done, there is still one very notable group of old treasures
not yet covered by any of the above characteristics. They don't
carry an identifying footer, weren't made by an old defunct company,
aren't XLs, and may or may not have the wide strikers. These
are the Group I covers.
- GROUP I: These covers are all
by Diamond Match Co. and were all put out in the mid-1930s. They're
distinguishable from other covers because they don't carry any
advertising, and they were issued in sets, some of which had
over 400 covers each. There were sets of movie stars, football
and hockey players, radio personalities...bridge sets, dog sets,
souvenir sets, etc, so they're widely sought-after by a variety
of people, not just hobbyists. These covers are as good as gold,
often selling for at least several dollars each, and often quite
a bit more, but it's easy to get overwhelmed in this area since
there are so many. A complete Group
I listing is available [listed as
T & T Listing].
Here are three examples of
Group I covers: two Bridge covers (outside and inside) and a
one of the Football covers.
One more word in parting. Many
of the Group I covers bear the word "Colgate," either
in the manumark or elsewhere, usually on the inside. Colgate
was a Diamond Match Co. employee who designed almost all of Diamond's
sets in the mid-1930's. "Colgate" on a cover indicates
What? You don't seem to have any
of those Golden Oldies?! Well, I don't have a vintage Rolls Royce
either, but there are other types of Treasure besides just old!
A cover can be recent and be in high demand [rarely, I'll
Covers can be in demand because of
their subject material. Throughout the decades, there have always
been some 'categories' which have been hot and some that
have been cold...and some that have always been hot!
Many to all of the covers in some of these categories will
bring less than a dollar, but substantially more than the .04
-.10 cents that run-of-the-mill covers will bring. If you have
a lot of them, that adds up! In some of the categories discussed
here, the covers will bring a dollar or more each. Keep in mind,
though, that in every category, there are those covers that are
very common; everyone has them; and there will be little demand
for such. Here are at least most of the perennially wanted categories:
- FULL-FEATURES: For many collectors, Full-Features are the
epitome of what matchcover collecting has to offer. Ironically,
they always have the matches retained, so these are always
'full-books' (covers with matches). Full-Features were
made by Lion Match Co.., mainly during the 1940s-1950s, and are
much preferred over matchbooks which only have 'printed sticks'
(text on sticks, not pictures). They will normally bring dollars+
each. The one shown here has everything! It's a Full-Feature,
a Display, and a Major Political. There is no current listing
- WORLD'S FAIRS: High demand for the earlier issues, beginning
with the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, which was the first and remains
as having the most sought-after covers. Such would bring dollars+.
There is no general World's Fairs listing, but there are specific
listings for some specific World Fairs. The New York '39-'40
World's Fair listing is the largest, with over 500 covers known.
Most were issued during World War II. Always in demand. The listing currently
lists over 5,000 of these covers.
What can I say? They've always been popular! Many are much more
explicit than the one shown here, but, hey, this is a family
site. It's the 'non-stock' Girlie covers that are more valuable
('stock' means that the picture or photo was regularly used on
many covers for a variety of advertisers; 'non-stock' means that
the picture or photo is basically unique to that particular cover.
The earlier Girlie issues were drawings. Starting in the 1960s,
photos became more common. There is a large photo-catalog listing
available when you join the Girlie
Matchcover Club. Note: many Girlie
covers are very common, especially those issued by matchcover
collectors for conventions, and thus have little value.
- MAJOR POLITICAL: Modern issues are generally too common to
have any significant worth, but the older issues, such as this
FDR cover are Treasures. The age, of course, is part of it, but
rarity is the larger part. I paid $10 for this one a few years
ago. There is no listing.
These are in high demand...mainly because there are so many
railroad fanatics around, both within and without the
hobby [Coca-Cola covers are also always popular for the same
reason]. A small percentage are notable for their extra-nice
artwork, but otherwise... Most of the Post-War issues are fairly-to-quite
common. There is no listing.
And there are others, such as Full-Length
Diners and Contours, for example, but this is about it. There
may be categories that become very sought-after because they're
new, but that popularity eventually dwindles as the 'newness'
wears off, especially if they cease to be produced. The categories
I've described above have withstood the test of time.
A parting note: Interestingly
enough, the two hottest categories in the hobby in recent years
were comprised of some of the cheapest covers to be had...Tobacco
(cigarettes, cigars, etc.) and Casinos. Value had nothing to
do with their popularity; it's simply that these were just about
the last two categories in which the domestic industry was regularly
cranking out new issues...so there was a lot of interest. They
had to be the less commons one, though. For example, in the Casino
category, new covers from the Indian casinos were much more sought
after than those from the established casinos in Reno, Las Vegas,
and Atlantic City. Everyone already had the latter covers.