- A "manumark" ("mm")
is the line or lines of text immediately below the striker on
front-striker covers (pre-1979), such as the one pictured above
left. On reverse-striker covers, which were mandated in 1973
and became universal by the end of 1978, the mm would be above
the striker. In some cases, the mm will be found on the inside
of the cover, and in a few instances there may be no mm shown
at all. The mm can be 1-3 lines, right-side up or upside down.
- Manumarks are very important little
fellows. They can tell who the manufacturer was, where the matchbook
was produced (or at least the point of distribution), and how
old the matchbook is.....but not always, and not necessarily
all three items together. So, let's take a look at the information
a manumark can give the collector and under what circumstances.
Here's an example.
- This mm tells us that this cover
was produced by the Atlantic Match. Co. We'll discuss below those
instances where you can't trust what the mm says, but this one's
OK. Atlantic Match Co. was a match manufacturer. It also says
"JACKSONVILLE, FLA." That's where Atlantic and its
plant were located, so that's where the matchbook was produced.
The manumark gives no date of origin, but if you do your research
(see "The American Match
Industry: A Biograph") you can
find in which years Atlantic was in production, and, in many
cases, if you have the right reference tool, you can actually
narrow it down even further and find out in which years that
specific mm was in use (see "MM
Dating Guide" ).
- Simple, yes? (you know there's
a catch coming, right?) Well, it's a t-i-n-y bit more complicated
than that because, truth-be-told, as far as manufacturer and
location are concerned, you can't always rely on what the mm
says! It turns out that, in many cases, the manumark doesn't
refer to the manufacturer at all. Look at this example:
- If you didn't know better, you'd
simply assume that the manufacturer here was Pageant Match and
that the matchbook was produced in San Francisco....not so! Pageant
Match is not a manufacturer at all. It's a sales and distribution
company, taking orders and passing them on to mainly Japanese
manufacturers...and making sure that its own name appears in
the mm. By the same token, there is no production plant in San
Francisco; that's simply where the Pageant office was that was
responsible for the order.
- As it turns out, any Tom, Dick,
or Harry can get his name in the mm. If Bob's Novelty Co. is
the one handing the order and sending it into the manufacturer,
then the mm on those covers will more than likely read "Bob's
Novelty Co." The knowledgeable collector knows who is an
actual manufacturer and who isn't, even though many of these
non-manufacturing middle men actually call themselves "match
companies" (i.e., "Arthurian Match Co., Camelot, England").
- Complicated now?....Well, it's even
more complicated than that...because even if the mm does
contain the actual manufacturer's name, the location shown, especially
for the larger manufacturers, may not be the production location.
Look at the following example:
- Atlas is, indeed, a manufacturer,
but it has no production plant in Houston. That's simply \the
branch office that handled the particular order. The more experienced
you become, the easier you'll find it to decode the manumarks
you come across.
- Aside from the decoding, manumarks
are of prime interest to collectors who focus on old covers.
These collectors are looking for covers from old, defunct match
manufacturers. So, they look for those companies' manumarks.
Crown, King Midas, Star, Jersey, Manhattan, Union, Gem, General,
and others are manumark names that are sure to spark a collector's
- "Footers" technically
include any manufacturer's (as opposed to advertising) text located
at the foot of the matchcover....that's normally where the "close
cover before striking" is to be found. Thus, the "close
cover before striking" is a footer. But, that's not the
type of footer that is of interest to most collectors. There
are special, highly sought-after footers. Observe...
- These are four of the more famous
footers. They were used, in most cases, by the respective manufacturers
as trademarks for certain covers. Special footers such as these
basically disappeared by World War II. Hence, when a collector
happens upon one, he knows he's looking at an o-l-d cover. When
you're looking for this type of footer, any that have "Quality"
are good (various manufacturers put out various Qualities...i.e.,
"Eddy Quality," "Magno
Quality," etc.); any that have
"Safety First" are good (i.e., Diamond, Art, Jersey, Lion, Hercules, and other companies all put
out Safety Firsts). Plus, there are other types, two of which
are pictured above.
- Additionally, as with manumarks,
these footers can also be dated to the specific range of years
when they were actually used by their respective manufacturers.