Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Antique Match Holders Display

Wooden fretwork and ceramic match holders
     Berkeley Heights Public Library invites the public to an exhibit of antique match holders in the lobby display cases. The collection can be viewed during regular library hours through the month of January. The collection of ceramic, carved wood and metal match safes and wall-mounted match holders belongs to children's librarian Laura Fuhro.
When asked how she began collecting match holders, Laura explained that while visiting friends in Maine in the 1980's she visited a flea market where a collection of match holders caught her eye. She likes the idea of collecting things that used to be very common and essential in every household, but now people don't want them or need them anymore. Her original acquisition was a Horace Greeley match holder and Laura has been collecting ever since that original purchase, 

      "I can't stop. I have over 200 made of every material - metal, wood, ceramic. Most date from the 19th century through the World War I era."

     Most people don't need to keep matches on hand in the kitchen anymore since gas stoves have automatic ignition now. However, Laura finds that the little wall-mounted match holders make very convenient spots to keep nails, cat toys or other bits and bobs that would otherwise be relegated to the kitchen junk drawer.

     The lobby display has signs explaining the invention and development of safety matches as well as the "Fretwork Frenzy" era of woodcarving, a technique used to create many of match holders in the display. Small kits of woodworking tools were sold for home projects and many women of the late 19th century made small wooden crafts in their homes using the tools. Fretworking was the craft craze of the times.

    How many of our readers remember having a match holder in your kitchen or near the fireplace? In the 1950's, it might have been designed to hold a rectangular cardboard matchbox, explained Laura, but I haven't seen one in recent years in anyone's home.

Related websites:
For more images of match holders, visit this Pinterest Board
History of the Match from the Museum of Everyday Life

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