Clare College Match Striker          Match Striker Gallery          Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge



Recent AdditionsNEW ICON
(click to view match strikers and company history)

Charles Allerton & Sons

Arkinstall & Sons Ltd (Arcadian China)


Birks, Rawlins & Co

W.T. Copeland & Sons Ltd  (Spode)

Doulton & Co Ltd


Empire Porcelain Co (Ltd)

Fieldings & Co

Grimwades Ltd (Royal Winton)

F. & W. Goebel Co


Ralph Hammersley & Son

Edward Jones & Co Ltd


Lovatt & Lovatt

James MacIntyre & Co

Manor Ware


Olivant Potteries Ltd

F. & R. Pratt & Co (Ltd)

Price, Bristol

Prinknash Abby Pottery

A.G. Richardson & Co Ltd (Crown Ducal)

Salopian Art Pottery Co

"Victoria" Schmidt & Co (GEMMA)

Shelley Potteries Ltd

Soho Pottery Ltd

Taylor, Tunnicliff & Co

Unknown Makers



Wiltshaw & Robinson
(Carlton Ware) (1)

Wiltshaw & Robinson
(Carlton Ware) (2)

W. Wood & Co

Unmarked Match Strikers

Metal Match Strikers (1)

Metal Match Strikers (2)

Retailers Marks

Composite Section
(brings together information on types of match striker from elsewhere on the site)

Advertising Match Strikers

Crested Match Strikers


Suggested Reading


Welcome to the Match Striker Gallery, a site dedicated to providing information and images about match strikers and the firms that made them. Match strikers  subdivide them into three basic types

Match strikers (matchstrikes or match strikes) refers to objects which holds matches and have a rough surface to strike them on.

Match holders (matchholders) refers to objects which hold matches but lack a striking surface (although the highly inflammable early matches could be struck on just about anything, such as the seat of your trousers !)

Matchbox holder refers to objects specifically designed to hold matches in their original box, this meant that they could be used with either basic friction matches or safety matches (where the chemically impregnated side of the box was needed to ignite them)

In Europe match strikers are often referred to as 'Pyrogenes' after one of the leading manufacturers (like we call vacuum cleaners 'Hoovers').

These were once common objects both in the house and at work. They could be made of a wide variety of materials such as pottery, metal or wood. They could be plain, highly decorated or used to advertise a companies products (in the same sort of way as a promotional mug or pen today).

Most of the match strikers shown on this web site (which reflects my own personal interest) were made of pottery in the United Kingdom. Four of my favorites are shown below (they are about 8 cm or 3 inches in diameter). The first two have the crest of Cambridge Colleges on, the third has the crest of a mystery institution or place (my guess would be a school or college of some sort) and the final example advertises Electricity and was presumably a give away from one of the first firms to sell it commercially in this country (or maybe elsewhere ?).

Clare Colledge, Cambridge (Carlton Ware) Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (Carlton Ware)
Crested Match Striker Electricity Match Striker

A Brief History of Matches
For many years making a fire from scratch was a complicated, time consuming business.

Typically a spark was struck (using flint and steel) into tinderbox containing fine dry material like fine wood shavings or leaves. Once the tinder was smoldering you had to blow on it to create a flame then slowly build a fire. More primitive people relied on rubbing two pieces of wood together.

All this changed with the invention of the friction match by the English chemist John Walker in 1827. A wooden splint was coated in a mixture of chemicals which, when dry, could be ignited by drawing it through a piece of sandpaper. With a few changes to the chemical mixture (by people such as the French scientist Dr Charles Saurian and American Alonso Dwight Phillips) a new era of fire making had arrived.

These early matches were unstable, igniting very easily, and burning fiercely so somewhere safe was needed to keep them hence the appearance of match strikers for the home.

People also wanted to carry matches with them on a day to day basis, so the Vesta case was developed (named after a type of European match) which was a small, enclosed metal box with a striking surface somewhere on the outside. These represent a separate field of collecting but an example is shown below (it's about 5.5 cm or 2.5 inches long).

White metal Vesta

Subsequently the safety match was developed (by such people as William A Fairburn an engineer for the American Diamond Match Company). By changing the chemicals the match was dipped into it would only ignite when struck against a surface impregnated with a specific chemical . This meant that matches had to be kept in the original box and match strikers were developed to allow this such as the two shown below (they are about 14 cm or 5.5 inches wide)

Matchbox holder & Ashtray (Royal Doulton) Matchbox holder advertiing Bass beer (Mintons)

Now matches themselves have begun to become a thing of the past with the widespread use of gas lighters, and few match strikers are in use any more


A couple of visitors have asked for update information. The site was last updated in August 2009. Sections where there have been significant changes to the text, or have had images added since that last update are indicated on the homepage by the NEW ICON icon. Apologies for the length of time since the last update, but I have not been able to get hold of enough strikers or images to warrant a change. Many thanks to those who have sent me pictures to add to the site I appreciate it, and hope that the sites viewers do too.

Note that you can get a brief description of each picture by moving your mouse pointer over them (try it on the ones on this page!)

Legal Stuff

While I have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented on this website I cannot guarantee any of it (please contact me via the link below if you spot any inaccuracies). All the pictures were taken by me, Anthony, or by kind contributors to the site (indicated on the appropriate pages), so please don't copy them (If you want to use one please ask for permission).

If you have any information or pictures of match strikers you would like to share please get in touch. I would especially like information about books on match strikers as they seem to be very thin on the ground.

The website has been tested using Internet Explorer 6, 7 & 8  © Anthony 2005 to 2009

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