Boston Public Library > Collections > Library Collections

The bookmatch was patented in the 1890’s by John Pusey, a Pennsylvania patent lawyer, who sold the patent outright to the Diamond Match Co. in 1896. It soon became hugely popular as an advertising give away. The first crudely printed example of its use in this way, promoting a New York presentation of the Mendelssohn Opera Company, appeared in 1898. Several hundred matchcovers were produced and a single example, complete with misspellings and typographic errors, is held in the collection of the Diamond Match Company.

The Diamond Match Company’s first big order, 10 million booklets for the Pabst Brewing Company, is said to have started the bookmatch industry. Their popularity grew with the spread of smoking in public. Matchbooks were placed on tables for diners in restaurants, hotels and dining cars on the railway. Besides their use advertising dining venues and commercial products, promotional bookmarks were often used in political campaigns.

Bookmatches reflect the artistic and advertising styles of the day. The BPL’s collection date from approximately 1940 to 1975.

For more information please contact:
Print Department
McKim Building, 3rd Floor
Boston Public Library
700 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
617-859-2280 or 617-536-5400
www.bpl.org/research/print/index.htm

Boston Matchcovers

Boston Matchcovers

436 photos