Matchbox vs. Matchbook

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Matchbox and Matchbook is that the Matchbox is a box, generally pocket-sized, for holding matches and Matchbook is a paperboard folder (matchcover) enclosing a quantity of matches.

  • Matchbox

    A matchbox is a box made of cardboard or thin wood and designed to hold matches. It usually has a coarse striking surface on one edge for lighting the matches contained inside.

  • Matchbook

    A matchbook is a small paperboard folder (matchcover) enclosing a quantity of matches and having a coarse striking surface on the exterior. The folder is opened to access the matches, which are attached in a comb-like arrangement and must be torn away before use in contrast to a matchbox where the matches are loosely packed in the interior tray.

    The exterior of the matchcover is usually imprinted with a producer’s logo, often with artistic decorations, or serves as an advertising/promotional medium for the undertaking by which it is sold or given away. The ease of making matchcovers of different shapes also made them quite a popular cheap promotional item or anniversary souvenir.

    Manufacturing of matchbooks peaked during the 1940s and 1950s, then steadily declined because of the availability of disposable lighters and various anti-smoking health campaigns. Recently, matchbooks have begun to regain some of their popularity as a “retro” advertising item, particularly in high-end restaurants.Although paper matches were patented in the 1880s, an early paper match “folder” was patented in September 1892 by Philadelphia patent attorney Joshua Pusey. However, the matchbook as we know it was patented a few weeks later by Charles Bowman of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Pusey challenged Bowman’s patent, but Bowman’s patent was upheld. Pusey sold his patent to the Diamond Match Trust in 1896 and then served as the company’s patent attorney. Bowman’s company, the American Safety Head Match Company of Lebanon, PA did not last long, and Diamond Match Co. adapted his design into their product, becoming the first mass-producer of paper matchbooks.

    Collecting of matchboxes, matchbooks, match labels and other match-related items is called phillumeny.

  • Matchbox (noun)

    A small cardboard box in which matches are kept.

  • Matchbox (noun)

    Any small die-cast toy car, usually collectible.

  • Matchbook (noun)

    A small folded sheet of cardboard containing rows of cardboard matches, generally with a striker on the outside.

    “My company had matchbooks printed with the corporate logo as giveaway promotional items.”


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