A matchbook is a small cardboard folder (matchcover) enclosing a quantity of matches and having a coarse striking surface on the exterior. The folder is opened to access the matches, which are attached in a comb-like arrangement and must be torn away before use. (In the matchbox, by contrast, the matches are loosely packed in the interior tray.)

The exterior of the matchcover is usually imprinted with producer logo (often with various artistic decorations) or serves as an advertising/promotional media (usually for the undertaking (bar, restaurant, hotel, shop, etc.) it is sold/handed off in). Easiness of making matchcovers of different shape also made matchbooks quite a popular cheap promotional item or anniversary souvenir.

Manufacturing of matchbooks peaked during the 1940s and 50s, then steadily declined because of the availability of disposable lighters and various anti-smoking health campaigns.

Although paper matches were patented in the 1880s, an early paper match "folder" was patented in September 1892 by Philadelphia patent attorney American Joshua Pusey, however the matchbook as we know it was patented a few weeks later by Charles Bowman of Lebanon, PA. Pusey challenged Bowman's patent, but Bowman's patent was upheld. Pusey sold his patent to the Diamond Match Trust in 1896 and then served as the company's patent attorney. Bowman's company, the American Safety Head Match Company of Lebanon, PA did not last long, and Diamond Match Co. adapted his design into their product, becoming the first mass-producer of paper matchbooks.

Collecting of matchboxes (with matches) and matchbooks (w/o ones), as well as matchboxes Matchlabels and other match-related items is called phillumeny


Flexible Match, 27 September 1892 by J. Pusey

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