Themed photo album for the birthday of a match

A match birthday is celebrated on April 10 in many countries. The mentioned holiday serves as a pretext to recall the importance and significance of matches, which have long been an integral attribute of our daily everyday life. However, even now matches continue to play an important role all over the world as a convenient and cheap way of making fire.

In Russia, the word "match", that is, a small needle, originally meant wooden shoe tack. Primarily, matches in Russia were called “incendiary” or “self-igniting” matches. More than 100 types of matches exist nowadays. They are distinguished by various criteria. For example, according to the material of a matchstick, they are divided into wooden, cardboard and wax. According to the method of ignition - grater and non-grater (ignited by friction upon the surface).

In addition to customary matches, special ones are made as well. In particular, waterproof matches -- burning in the wind and even in the rain, signal (with colored flame), cigar (for lighting cigars), fireplace matches. There are even decorative matches -- limited editions with various designs on the boxes (similar to postage stamps).

Before the invention of matches, flakes of fire were obtained with great difficulty. To do this, one had to apply force of friction and flint knapping. Having studied the properties of sulfur, people began to dip the end of the splinter in it to ensure rapid ignition. In the subsequent years, the invention was improved. A well-known scientist from Germany - A. Hankwitz, began to use phosphorus. Sulfur stick easily burst into flame when rubbed against it. In 1805, the French chemist Chapselle demonstrated first self-igniting matches. They were wooden sticks with the head made of the mixture of sulfur, Berthollet salt with addition of zinnober (it served to color the incendiary mass in red color). It was possible to light a match with the help of a lens in sunny weather, and on other days – one had to add a drop of sulfuric acid. These matches were very expensive and presented real danger to people.
In Russia, the production of phosphorus matches was started circa the 1830s, hence no documentary evidence testify it. It is known for a fact that by 1848 more than thirty match producing manufactories had been operating in our country.

Johann Betcher made a breakthrough in the sphere of making matches. This German chemist created impregnated sticks. Their head consisted of an adhesive mixture and Berthollet salt. Matches were lighted by a piece of paper coated with phosphorus. The Lundström brothers produced first safety matches in 1851 in Sweden. For a long time they were called the Swedish matches precisely because of this fact. In 1855, the Swedish matches were presented at The Exposition Universelle of 1855, where they received a gold medal.

Gradual mechanization and expansion of match production started. Thus, by 1913, there were 251 registered manufactures, producing safety matches in the Russian Empire. In the Soviet times, match production scraped through and experienced recoveries, falling into decline in the 90s of the last century due to natural causes.
Contemporary matches do not contain sulfur and chlorine compounds; paraffin and chlorine-free oxidizing agents are used instead.

Multifarious matchboxes are presented in the Museum "Collection" sections - "Russian enamel", "Russian metal artworks", "Items with musical movement", "Snuff boxes and cigarette cases".
Thematic album with the photos of various matchboxes stored in the museum exposition is posted in our Photo Gallery.

The museums dedicated to Mach exist in some countries, namely, in Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany.