A walk down Philuminy Lane…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s weather is like a memory foam mattress – snugly clouds with ripples…
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For further information as to what the hell this is all about, please see my earlier post on the subject.
Well, it looks like I’m a philuminist then… | Dave Whatt

Early 1960s matchbox labels.

Good morning everybody, my name is Mr Whatt, and I’m here to guide you through the fascinating world of international philuminy… You there! you! Yes you! Are you chewing gum? Spit it out immediately! Good! I should think so too, no hard feelings I hope? Have a nice glass of ‘Bent’s Red Label Sweet Strong Stout’. That’s far better for you that chewing gum nonsense…
No, but seriously, the three labels following the ‘Bent’s’ one look pretty uninspiring don’t they? ‘Moffat Matches, nice red and yellow on a green ground I suppose, but ‘GN’ matches and ‘Ninety-Nine’, even at twopence-halfpenny (old money) are a bit drab! Ah now, ‘Three Pipes Safety Matches’ – what a lovely drawing! I like the way the plumes of smoke from the pipes combine to form a background for the lettering. Nice colour too. All the way from Finland!
How about ‘Prince Royal Paraffin Matches by Robert Sinclair’ with a plaid background. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t know what ‘paraffin matches’ are… Any ideas class?
Look out! I think they are going to ‘Friskus’… (first one, row three) Pause for chuckles… It looks a bit Nordic to me. My, that’s a nice word! Come on students, let’s all try to say it… ‘Mjolkberikat!’ Come on now, don’t be shy…’Mjolkberikat!’
Meanwhile, back in early 1960s South Africa… that one cent box has a super long word on it, but I suspect it just translates from the Afrikaans as ‘Safety Match’ – ‘Veiligheidsvuurhoutjie’ – Even talking about this matchbox gives me creeps when I think what things were like there then… Quickly moving on…
Here we are, that’s better, a blue-headed gull gliding effortlessly over a plucky Soviet spy-ship. It’ll probably be keeping an eye on some aggressive capitalist naval goings-on I expect. The price seems to be 60 somethings, probably kopecks… That seems a lot of kopecks for just a box of matches, still, what do I know?
Well, these labels all look very nice, but they are a bit boring don’t you think? Look at row four: ‘Elder Dempster lines’, ‘Ren Linolje Husmal Med Soppdreper Jotun’ and ‘John Bull Salt’, but in what looks like Norwegian! Bah! What a disappointment row four turned out to be, even with that dim-looking penguin in the middle…
Ah, row five, that’s more like it, a bit of action in pink on white… Comrade Ivan is flying his helicopter and doing a bit of crop spraying, at least I hope that it’s crops that he’s spraying! ‘Safety does pay!’ Ivan, ‘Don’t dream at the wheel’ says the Aussie ‘Crown’ matchbox at the end of the row.
‘Ninove Match’ – Merckx & Co. of Belgium have a little red chap in a skirt and patterned tights, with a pair of wings fastened on his hat; he’s holding up what looks like a mirror and reflecting something represented by radiating straight lines back whence it came. An ancient Greek myth I expect… You! Yes, you at the back, just Google it for us when you’ve finished your stout, and tell us where it’s from, there’s a good chap!
Not much left now… ‘Diamond Safety Matches’ from the US, ‘Vulcan’ showing a globe and some match manufacturing medals they have won, ‘WIMCO, WIMCO, WIMCO!’, ‘Camp’ matches with a tent on it, and finally ‘The Regular Safety Match’, with yet more bloody medals on it… I don’t believe these ‘match manufacturing medals’ actually exist – I’ve never seen one!
Hey, you at the back, have you got any results on your tablet about the red lad with the round mirror? Doh! Look everyone, he’s fallen asleep…
The ‘Dave Whatt Label of the Week’ is… ‘The Three Pipes’, just for its charm and the quality of the draughtspersonship….

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in advertising, art, colours, drawing, history, philuminy, words and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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