Since I have been dwelling on the beauty of small things lately – like flowers – it is no surprise that candles are in the mix too. Our garden here has no real outdoor lighting and the house has some glaringly bright overhead spots that I hate to use, so candles have proliferated everywhere, almost on their own accord. With candles comes the need for matches and that has brought up a long-term fascination with antique glass and silver match strikes.
The person who brought decorative match strikes to the design world’s attention is British designer and writer Rita Konig, who has a few favorites, along with a spectacular pink ashtray, that you see in the different incarnations of her apartments over and over again. There is no real date order to these photos, although the first one is from her London apartment in the mid 2000s. That’s the first time I remember noticing the two small match strikes, both antique, one green glass with a silver rim and the other one cranberry.
Over the years, I tracked for them every time a photo of her place was featured as she moved first to one New York apartment, then another, and then onwards back to London.
Over time a new art glass strike by Lucy Cope got added to the mix with her two small strikes, her pink ashtray and her coral patterned transferware plate. I think one of my favorite things about Konig’s style is that she is truly cumulative, and having committed to something, seems committed for life.
Match strikes like these are quintessentially English, although you can find some made elsewhere. The silver ring is hallmarked as per standard British regulation, most often between the final few years of the 19th century (fairly safe strike anywhere matches were invented in 1898) and the 1920s. They seem to have fallen out of favor with the advent of new match technology. I’m not quite sure how easy it is to find ‘strike anywhere’ matches these days, but it is not deterring me.
I’ve been hunting on eBay and Etsy but buying one long distance just doesn’t seem fun. If you are planning to search around after reading this, keep in mind that the American term seems to be ‘striker’ with the terminal ‘r’ versus the British ‘strike’. I hinted to sweet hubby for my birthday, but he missed the signals completely. I was absolutely sure the gods of glass coincidence would make one available to me at my recent forays to the shrine sales in Japan – because there is nowhere more likely that Tokyo flea markets for finding a random British antique – but I was sent a jam pot and some Turkish tea glasses instead.
I’ve spied some more recently in the Houston home of Catherine Brooks Giuffre on Domino. She has some great art and an interesting mix of pieces too. When I did a little back research, I stumbled across her previous living room and like Konig, it was quite interesting to see how and what she had repurposed.
When I woke up yesterday to a House Beautiful post on what to put on your coffee table that included match strikes, I knew it was time for this post. I don’t think I need a whole collection, but one little one, in emerald green or even bright cranberry would do me just fine.
And by the way, did you know hobby of collecting match-related items, such as matchcovers and matchbox labels, is known as phillumeny? I wonder if that label includes match strikes? Regardless, I’ll have to mention that to my daughter.
Shrine Sale Stories…Vintage Matchboxes, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel and The 1948 London Olympics
Shrine Sale Scorcher…Vintage Mirrors on an Extremely Hot Day
Nogizaka…A Good Place to Start