I loathe dusting, so becoming a serious collector really doesn’t interest me at all. Instead of having a house full of tchotchkes, I’d much rather amass experiences. As a result, the only items I have multiples of are ticket stubs, bottles of sand, and matchbooks. While those three items may seem unrelated, I keep them around to remind me of events I’ve attended (ticket stubs), places I’ve been (sand), and adventures I’ve had (matchbooks).
I really have no idea what a sand collector is called, and ticket stub hoarders likely don’t have a name. But apparently the hobby of collecting matchbooks and matchbook-related items is known as phillumeny. It was so named in 1943 by British collector Marjorie Evans, and has (not really) taken the world by storm since then. While my matchbook collection is only in the double-digit range, Guinness World Record holder Emilio Arenas Florin of Uruguay has amassed 9130 unique matchbooks. So the answer is yes, there is a Guinness World Record for everything.
But here’s the thing about matchbooks: they’re really difficult to find. With the advent of lighters and smoking bans, they’ve slowly but surely been going down the same path as the dodo bird. Now you may not think this is a tragedy worth bemoaning, but I think the loss of the matchbook is a travesty…or at least a minor shame.
Here are a few of the ways in which matchbooks improve the world:
- You can write a fake phone number on them when someone corners you at a bar
- If you find one in your pocket, it can help piece together what you did the night before
- They make fire portable
- At a blackjack table, they make the perfect wedge to keep your purse off the floor (ask a dealer in Vegas about this one the next time you’re there)
- If you’re in an unfamiliar city and need something to do, you can go on a bar/hotel hopping tour and collect them along the way
- In a pinch, the cover makes a decent toothpick
- They’re the perfect size to prop up a wobbly table leg
- They make a cheap but useful party favour
- If you find one lurking somewhere (ie. suitcase, bottom drawer, etc.), they spark a memory about where/when you picked it up
- They’re always the main ingredient in the best bar tricks
So as you can see, the lowly matchbook has numerous redeeming qualities that shouldn’t be ignored just because matches are no longer in high demand. Plus, they’re pretty much the only shot I have of making it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Only 9100 to go…
Hello, I´m from Denmark and I am also a phillumenist. My collection is about 100,000 different from all over world.
You can take a look at my collection at my website.
That is a massive collection! I’ll be sure to check it out, and thanks for the comment.