Loving the Light
Are you now, or have you ever been, a phillumenist — a practitioner of phillumeny or phillumenism?
And what is this phillumeny, you may well ask?
So, obviously, phillumeny is the love of light, and what better source of light has there ever been than the common, cardboard, phosphorus, and potassium chlorate safety match? Yes, phillumeny is the hobby of collecting matchbook covers!
And since, as we well know, Wheeling was once home to myriad stogie and cigar makers, manufacturers, and sellers, it follows that Wheeling also once generated a huge demand for matches. In fact, just about every business in town, from working-class taverns, to middle-class restaurants and retail stores, to upper-class social clubs, did significant advertising in the form of matchbook covers—freebies that could be picked up from the bar or counter by patrons in need of a light. And now, thanks to local phillumenist extraordinaire, Sarah Carpenter, we are able to present to you some rather fascinating matchbook art from Wheeling businesses, circa 1935-1965. Many of the designs, as you will see, are quite colorful, featuring Art Deco styling and vivid imagery. Many others are quite colorful for very different reasons. Some were even too colorful to share. We did our best.
Take a look (parental guidance advised).
By the way, you can see many of the original matchbooks featured here on display now at the Ohio County Public Library.