- In the Golden Age of the
hobby, matchbooks were available everywhere, in large numbers,
and they were free! [Doesn't it seem as if you've always just
missed the Golden Age of whatever?] Anyhow, businesses had
them mounded on their counters, restaurants had them on every
table, radio stations gave them out as part of contest promotions,
gas station attendants [you probably don't remember what those
were] passed them to customers...matchbooks abounded...and
they were all there for the taking! ...No more.
- Because of all the anti-smoking
campaigns, matchbooks aren't so easily available as they once
were. You'd think that businesses would retain matchbooks because
of their advertising value, but that hasn't turned out to be
the case. Today, a collector has to put more effort into finding
what he's after. Because of that, buying what you want
has become the norm, where once it was the exception. But, buying
is certainly not the only option, and for many collectors it's
still a supplementary option only.
- The most important avenue
to acquiring covers is to join the hobby [that sounds like
hype, but it's true]. Getting into the hobby, by joining
one or more of the clubs, puts you into the collecting network.
[see the CLUBS page for a listing and contact information]. It puts you in touch with other
collectors with whom you can trade; it opens the door to clubs
across the country, swapfests and conventions, and it's certainly
the best way to become knowledgeable about what you're collecting
and how to go about it.
- Club meetings: covers are normally available at
club meetings in a variety of ways--freebies, give aways from
fellow collectors, auctions, as prizes, etc.
- Swapfests and Conventions: Covers by the hundreds of thousands!--freebie
tables, room-hopping, game prizes, raffles, drawings, auctions,
dealers tables, trades with other collectors.
- Bulletin auctions: Many of the hobbby's clubs run an
auction along with their monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly bulletins.
- Trading: Once you begin to accumulate covers,
you invariably end up with some that you don't need (duplicates,
covers that aren't in your collecting areas, etc). You can turn
this into trading stock and trade with collectors around the
country and around the world for covers that you are looking
- Buying collections: from collectors retiring from the
hobby, from estate sales, and so on.
- Outside the hobby network,
itself, there are other options for obtaining covers:
- Have friends and relatives
be on the lookout
for matchbooks for you. People are always finding batches of
matchbooks or covers collected by grandpa or Aunt Martha. If
they know someone in particular who wants them, they'll likely
find their way to you via your friends and relatives, who will
also pick up what they can find in their travels, business dealings,
- Run an ad in a local circular advertising to
buying accumulations. There are millions of covers languishing
in attics, basements, closets...forgotten and unwanted by their
owners. All you have to do is coax them out into the open. The
more covers that come to light, the more covers that circulate
throughout the hobby. Both you and your fellow collectors thus
- And finally, in your
own wanderings, you can always hunt down current matchbooks
whenever you stop at a store, a motel, etc. There are still new
issues to be found, albeit they're few and far netween these
days, and most collectors are now no longer willing, or no longer
able, to do the intensive footwork necessary to locate them.
But they're out there, and they can be found.
- It should be noted that
in recent years, there has been a major shift to buying
covers for many, or even most, collectors as the dependence on
trading has fallen off due to 1) the shrinking number of collectors,
2) the lower availablity of new covers, and 3) the continual
rise of postage.