Today, marketing is a highly skilled and nuanced mix of artistry and science. It wasn’t so long ago that the most thought that most businessmen would give marketing is making sure people leave their business with a pack of matches with the business name on them.
Everybody smoked. Every business sold cigarettes. Everybody had a pack of matches in their pocket, and if they didn’t– they needed one. Everyone handing out matches was a win-win.
Matchbooks eventually became more that just a means for lighting a butt.
People might hold on to colorful, fun, or borderline pornographic (from a 1950s sensibility) matchbooks. Some became souvenirs of visiting a restaurant or a city.
Matchbook collecting became a serious hobby for many through the second half of the twentieth century.
eBay seller uniqueanteek has recently posted over 12,000 matchbook covers for auction, several dozen of which are from Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and the immediate area.
Especially for some of the smallest businesses, like neighborhood grocery stores, corner taverns, and storefront restaurants, these matchbooks are the sole surviving proof that these businesses ever existed.
Most of these matchbook covers date from the 40s and 50s, with a few as late as the 70s or early 80s.
Enjoy this unique, broad look at Buffalo’s pop culture history through the matchbook covers of uniqueanteek, and if the spirit moves you, head over to any of uniqueanteek’s auctions, and pick up one of these or any of the thousands of cool covers listed for sale.
Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. The operator of Buffalo Stories Tours writes about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo special at blog.buffalostories.com and daily at buffalonews.com/history. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and spent 20 years working in Buffalo radio and TV, climbing his way to news director at WBEN Radio. Since then, he's been an adjunct professor and produced PBS documentaries. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.
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