Tag: matchboxes

These Striking Advertising Matches Were All the Rage in 1970s Singapore

With its rectangular and pocket-friendly form, a matchbox reminds one of a popular contemporary object: the smartphone. Apart from physical similarities, the two also have much in common in the world of advertising. Even before the proliferation of smartphones led to the popularity of “mobile advertising,” matchboxes plastered with advertisements once offered an affordable and portable means of marketing too.

Known as “advertising matches,” these petite boxes — which included matchbooks that flipped open from the top instead of sliding apart like a drawer in a matchbox — first and foremost provided a functional need. In a time when lighters and gas appliances had yet to become commonplace, they supplied an everyday necessity to light up a fire. Such was the case in Singapore prior to the 1980s, when households commonly used matches to light up oil lamps or charcoal stoves. The matchboxes that contained this essential good thus promised to reach a wide audience, and businesses eagerly advertised on boxes that were given away to potential customers.

➜ Read the full story on AIGA’s Eye on Design


A forgotten medium of graphic design in S’pore

Matchboxes were once commonly given out free in restaurants, banks and hotels in Singapore. They were a common item used by smokers, but also an everyday source of heat and light before electricity and gas became widely available here. On these 5.5cm x 3.5cm boxes also contained graphic art of the times, as organisations used them to promote their companies.

I learnt about them recently through local matchbox collector Yeo Hong Eng, who recently gave a talk about his collection at Bedok library. He was also featured in the Straits Times. Yeo has kindly shared these images of his matchboxes with me. If you’re interested to see more of his collection and hear him give a short presentation on the history of these matchboxes, register for his talk at Ang Mo Kio Library on 12 Feb 2011.