Matchcover Collecting

What Kind of Covers Should I Collect?

Matchcover collecting is one of the fastest growing hobbies in America today. Thousands of people from all over the world enjoy the fun and relaxation this educational hobby brings. Unfortunately businesses don't give away advertising matchbooks much anymore, but whenever you see them, make it a habit to grab some. If you want to build your collection more quickly, you may choose to buy covers.

If you get to the point where you've got too many covers, you can specialize in collecting one or several matchcover categories. Some of the most popular are listed below. You'll get much more pleasure out of collecting if you join one of the clubs devoted to collectors like you.

At first, you'll want to grab any matchbook you see. Eventually, though, you may decide to specialize. Here is a list of some of the more popular collecting categories.


This category consists of matchcovers from any financial institution, such as banks, savings and loans, or credit unions.


These covers have a specific date or year printed on them, and are usually issued to celebrate a special event or anniversary. they can also include sports schedules, fairs, political campaigns, etc.


This category includes groups such as the Elks, Moose, Eagles, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc. Most units have a number, so it is easy to group them numerically.


This is probably the most popular collecting category, and includes covers from any establishment which offers lodging for the night. Hotel chains are very popular: Holiday Inn, TraveLodge, Best Western, and others.


Jewels are extra long matchbooks with 30 matches, often beautifully designed. Jewelites are the same overall size but are die cut to form special shapes--pizzas or footballs, for instance. Very unique.


This is Universal's trade name for its matchbooks with full colored photographs. They are normally the larger 30 or 40-strike size.


These are matchbooks which are normally sold in stores or souvenir shops, and contain no advertising. They are often colorful and beautifully designed.


Many restaurants offer matches, so this is one of the most widely collected categories. Included is any establishment that serves food.


Two or more matchcovers issued at the same time constitute a set. They can feature different views of a tourist attraction, a series of jokes, or almost anything.

Small Towns

This category is usually defined as matchcovers issued from towns of 2,500 people or less. Some collectors try to get covers from every small town in a state or the country.


Matchcovers in this category include advertising for any means of paid transportation, such as airlines, railroads, taxis, and ship, bus, and truck lines.

U.S. Service

These are covers issued by the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, Marine, and Navy bases, officers mess, NCO clubs, PXs, etc.

Matchcovers are also classified by size

  • 20-strike matchbooks are the regular size we see most, and have 20 matchsticks per book. 
  • Larger 30-strike matchbooks are also popular, and have 30 matchsticks. 
  • 40-strike matchbooks (billboards), 
  • 10-strike matchbooks and matchboxes aren't quite as common, and their uniqueness makes them desirable.


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