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Welcome to the problem area of the web site

In an alphabetically based system, the problem relating to country of origin does not occur as the country of origin is irrelevant when locating labels.  However, in a country based system the labels are located initially according to their country of origin.  To facilitate this, I have allocated to every country a Country Code of 3 numbers.  These codes start at 100 for Afghanistan and finish with 582 for Zimbabwe (Rhodesia).  However, if the label does not state where the matches were manufactured or made, then this becomes a bit of a nightmare for those who have to give the label a location.  Naturally, the more experienced collector can usually through a number of clues identify the country of origin but, it cannot be guaranteed as, unlike postage stamps, which have fiscal value and have to be traced back to their place of printing, matchbox labels do not and therefore, those ordering matches for their companies can chose for themselves what country produces their matchboxes for them.

Quite often, companies engaged manufacturers from different countries at different times during a matchboxes life cycle and it was not unusual to have the same brand of matches being supplied by 4 or more countries over a number of years.  Additionally, generically manufactured matchboxes - that is matchboxes that were not specifically produced for a named manufacturer other than a name to be added to a generic matchbox as a form of promotion - were often produced by the same manufacturer but from factories that they owned in countries around the globe.  This was particularly prevalent for those matchboxes produced by Swedish Match who owned and in many cases still owns many match factories from around the world.  This country fragmentation also occurred at times of civil unrest and war, when material was unavailable to manufacture the matches and or the boxes.  Additionally, many match producing nations were subject to blockades during times of war when, those nations were considered the 'enemy' or were in enemy hands.  This of course created shortages for those countries that did not have the match producing facilities or the material to make them.  This is often identified in labels from the periods of the 1st and 2nd World Wars when labels were printed with such words as "Use Matches Sparingly".

One would be foolhardy to try and identify accurately the country of origin of every matchbox label that does not display the countries name.  Therefore, to overcome this situation, this area of the web site and my encyclopedia has been set up to meet the problem directly.  In my encyclopedia, all versions of a label - that is to say, box, packet, artb,gross and of course those produced in sets or series are all located together under each country that produced them  For example, the Country Code 200 relates to Czechoslovakia and all versions of label originating from Czechoslovakia will be located under that code in both the encyclopedia and this store.  However, on this web site each country has a separate listing for single, packet, sets or series, artb's and gross labels.

When it comes to labels where the country is not  known, a Virtual Country of Origin has been created.  Three digit codes starting with 590 and ending with 600 have been issued and these can be found under the group heading in the Categories Module "Country Not Known".  Whereas all versions of labels are normally held under one country code, it has been necessary to vary this approach for labels where the country of origin is not displayed.

It is necessary to understand that for many of the labels, there is a simple explanation.  That is to say that many countries do not or did not require the originating country of manufacture to be printed on the label, nor did they or do they require the contents to be shown.  Therefore, many of the labels that were printed were for supply to the Home Market of the country manufacturing the matches.  However, for matches being sold within the United Kingdom, there was after a certain date [early 1900's] a legal requirement for not just the country of manufacture, but also for the average contents to be printed on the label.  As with most things, there is and was always an exception to the rule and this was especially prevalent during the 1960's to 1990's.  During this period, manufacturer's rode the advertising boom and it was commonplace for matches to be supplied in sets or series.  A large proportion of matches being imported into the United Kingdom took the advertising boom to a whole new level and issued sets and series of labels in 18's, 24's, 36's, 48's and even 64's.  Many of these labels were clearly marked with the set or series name, the country of origin and the average contents.  However, there was also an abundance of manufacturers who applied two labels to a matchbox.  The top label was a generic label - that is to say, it carried all the legal requirements of Country of Origin and Average Contents, Bar Codes & Fire or Safety Warnings, but the bottom or reverse label was a themed set or series of a subject that the manufacturers thought would attract customers to their particular brand of matches.  As these labels were in principal a giveaway to customers who bought the matches, there was and still is no legal requirement for these labels to have any legal inscriptions at all.  Consequently, many of these labels will be found within the virtual country codes stated below.

Series of labels are fairly easy to accommodate as quite often, they have the title of the series printed on every label within the series.  In particular, labels that are from a series will also state as much on the label itself such as "A series of 10", or, "No. 7 from a series of 18".  However, a set of labels is where the manufacturer has produced a themed quantity of labels but gives no indication on the labels that they are part of a theme.  Consequently, these labels commonly not only have no indication of being part of a theme, but also lack any indication where they were manufactured and how many labels make up the set.  These labels are the hardest to assign to a country other by experience from other collectors.  

I have allocated virtual country codes using the following guidelines and parameters:

Code 590 - This code applies to all single labels issued where the country of origin is not stated on the label.  This particularly applies to advertising labels from such countries as Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Finland & Holland.  It has to be understood that many countries had match manufacturing facilities but the customers would not necessarily buy their matches from the country that they were domiciled in. Consequently although a label may have been written in Dutch, French or Austrian it didn't automatically mean that the label was Dutch, French or Austrian.  For this reason, labels that appear to be easily recognisable as coming from one specific country or another are not placed in those countries but in this virtual country code instead.  The overiding requirement for labels to be located in this country code is that they must be written in a language which is easily recogniseable by the majority of the population.  Therefore, labels written in specialised languages are not placed in this code but in thier own code which is fully explained further on in this document.

, sometimes the text itself on the label identifies where the matches  indication that they are is displayed on the individual labels.Warning sicountrymany advertising labels were printed  entering the That is to say, the labels were produced for the Home Market of the originating country and therefore the country of origin was not printed on the label.  However, for labels entering the UK, thereis a legal requirement for the country of origin to be printed on the label.there is a slight variance as Series and Sets of labels have there own sub-categories as does NCO Single labels.  However, in this particular case the Sub Category title has been changed to NCO Labels instead of NCO Single Labels and the sub, sub-categories of single, packet, artb and gross will remain but the sets/series and odds from sets/series will be located at 591 NCO Series and 600 NCO Sets accordingly.

Should you experience any difficulties in this respect, then the easiest way to overcome the problem is to use the stores search facility.  If the label you are looking for is in the store, the search facility will locate it for you.  If all else fails, please contact me via the Contact Us page and I will confirm whether a particular label is listed or not.  However, I would ask that you use the latter facility as a last resort and not a starting point - Thank you


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