Actually, the matchbook of today is just about the same as it was 100 years ago. Although there certainly have been some creative experiments with the form of the matchbook over the years, none caught on. Manufacturers have come out with a variety of sizes, ranging from 10-strikes and Midgets to gigantic 500-stick souvenir (novelty) covers, but the basic form has always normally been a piece of cardboard, folded over in the middle, with the matches stapled in, and one end of the cover tucking into the other to form a closed matchbook.

The biggest permanent change in design came in 1973, when all matchbooks were federally mandated to have the strikers put on the back panel, for safety. Thus, the industry changed from "Front-Strikers" to "Reverse-Strikers." It should be noted, however, that manufacturers were allowed to use up their current stocks, so new Front-Strikers were to be seen as late as 1978. Also of note is the interesting fact that manufac- turers had been issuing Reverse-Strikers as early as c. 1928 (these early Reverse-Strikers are referred to as "Back Strikers").

Some of the more innovative types you may run into include those that have removable strikers, such that when the staple is removed the striker comes off (a domestic example of this type would be the Owname covers); then there are the "Click" matches, which actually open at the saddle; Action matches, by Universal, featured flared edges at the saddle when opened.

Of course, there are the famous die-cut Contours, whose edges were custom cut to the advertiser's product, and Jewelites, which normally came in its characteristic hourglass shape.

Today, one can occasionally run across really unusual die-cut covers from foreign manufact- urers, especially Swedish Match and those in Japan.

[Drawings courtesy of Long Beach Matchcover Club]

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