All antiques and collectibles vary in quality or condition and matchcovers are no exception. Made of a rather fragile cardstock, matchcovers are probably more susceptible to wear than other types of collectibles. In the halcyon days of matchcover collecting, a collector with a brand new pristine matchbook in their hands would never strike the matchbook but rather would open the matchbook into a flat cover form and that matchcover would survive in near mint type condition for all of us to enjoy today. But many matchcovers were struck and used but at some point were saved rather than being discarded which was the usual end of most matchbooks.
Most matchcover images in this database are of decent quality and the visitor will see matchcovers from mint condition down to stained and “bobtailed” (missing the striker) condition and everything in between.
MATCHBOOK MANUFACTURERS’ QUALITY CONTROL
Matchbooks cost about a half-cent each after World War II and were a throw-away item so matchbook manufacturing companies were not too picky about quality control. Many matchbooks were slightly miss-cut or the text and graphics were misaligned (sometimes left-right but also often turned at an angle) with the cardstock. This fairly common situation is apparent when viewing the images in this database. So the visitor should recognize that matchbooks themselves were never precise works of art or assembly and the images in this database reflect that.
CREATING IMAGES OF MATCHCOVERS
Some matchcover images in this database may appear of suspect condition for other reasons. When creating this image database we greatly preferred that the actual matchcovers be scanned on a flat bed scanner but some were not. Scanned images are always superior to a photograph taken by a camera. First, a camera usually creates a trapezoidal image or a pincushion-shaped image that needs to have its perspective changed to make it appear rectangular, a process that can add discrepancies and in my experience never quite comes out exactly right. Second, a camera will often yield an image that is partly in-focus and partly out-of-focus. Third, a camera will sometimes produce an image with odd colors. This latter situation is most obvious on matchcovers with white or very light backgrounds. (Images from scanners have bright white backgrounds: the images from cameras often appear dingy or off-white.) Fourth, the camera operator may fail to disable the flash and the resultant illumination may be reflected by the matchcover in a distracting manner or wash out the printing on the matchcover. Fifth, some photographers are not too careful about allowing an even light to fall on the matchcover so a shadow may be cast over the matchcover. And sixth, some matchcovers, when removed from their album pages in preparation for photography, may partially “spring back” towards their original folded matchbook form and it will be virtually impossible to correct the photographic image with reasonable effort and time. Using a flat bed scanner avoids all six of the problems noted above.
Most images for this database were created on flat bed scanners but some contributors only had access to cameras. And many images that were taken from the internet were also obviously photographed with a camera. Further, some images from the internet were scanned at a low dot-density so the images that appear in our database are a fundamentally fuzzy.
BOTH NEW IMAGES AND UPGRADES WELCOME
Not only are we always looking for new matchcovers not in this database but also we are looking to upgrade the existing matchcover images in this database if possible. There are several reasons that an existing matchcover image would benefit from an upgrade. First, mentioned above, matchcover images originating from a camera may be improved if the image was created on a flat bed scanner. Second, many of the matchcover in this database are significantly worn or are missing their strikers so we also seek upgrades for them. Third, some of the images have very poor color contrast where the text printing is difficult to read so the matchcover may look like more like a monolithic rectangle of color on the website. If we can find another matchcover, even with the same artwork, in a more readable condition or a different but more readable color combination, we would like to make that upgrade. Contact me if you can assist us in this regards.