Matchcover Collecting

How to Build Your Collection

by "Billboard Bill" Thomas

At an eatery which has matches that I want, I never ask the waiter for a caddy, I ask to see a manager. Waiters rarely have authority to give away a caddy of matches and must get permission from a manager anyway, and then I feel obligated to tip the waiter something extra. A manager knows the advertising value of matches, can make a decision, and doesn't need a tip. If a place has no matches I try to convince them that matches are good, cheap advertising & are momentos, not just for lighting smokes. I carry the phone number of the local match firm.

If a merchant balks and says matches are expensive you then tell him that they're a written off consumable expense like toilet paper or paper napkins; they're not sold and are doing him NO good by sitting on his shelf; they are only good when they're circulated to the world, and YOU are offering to circulate his matches to the world FOR FREE! If a restaurant has a separate bar where smoking is allowed, approach the bartender for matches. But do it discreetly, as other bar patrons will say, "me too" if they see you getting matches. Get conversationally chummy with the barkeep first, and if you do get matches, leave an extra tip.

If you like to pursue leads, look for place that going out of business or that are changing their name, or that need to change their phone area code; sometimes they forget to change their matches until YOU remind them. If you find a flea market booth with a bushel basket of matches, look but laugh at their price per matchbook; they have NO conception of match-book value and tend to treat them as treasures from Egyptian tombs. Instead, offer to take the whole basket off their hands for $5 or $10 (after you've looked to see if they're worth a gamble).

Some few collectors are fond of keeping full books, but can't be pinned down to a1 reason. Sure, Feature matchbooks need to be kept full, but not others. They are very bulky, are a real fire hazard, and will draw little response from traders who don't want to pay the postage costs for full books. If you keep full books, please give me a few good reasons why, and if you come upon some others who do, please try and convince them that they are in a minority which will attract very few traders. You CAN set burned just shucking matches out of their covers--ask editor Mike Prero.

If you're just starting out, you're probably collecting every cover in sight, which is fine for now, but start thinking about some specialty categories to concentrate on. They can be things you re fond of, like a sport, your occupation or Girlies, but don't settle on just one or two favorite categories, as that limits the number of people who can trade with you. So pick at least one real common one, like Airlines or Banks, just so that others will have something to send you, but state that your primary preference is for this or that kind of cover. If you say General, you'll get general Covers, like Ma & Pa's Diner or Joe's Feed & Grain. State your preferences on your stationery; it helps the person trading with you.

This article was originally published in the RMS Bulletin, September/October 1995, issue #456.

 

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