Friday, November 11, 2011

HOBBY HISTORY - History of the Match

[Ed.  Note:  keep  in  mind  that  this  was  probably written in the late 1940s]

The  year  1832  saw  the  birth  of  two  further forms of matches—the  remarkable Fuzee and  the Wax Vesta.

The  fuzee  was  not  intended  for  ordinary  or domestic  use,  but  rather  for  a  special  purpose- the  lighting  of  cigars  and  pipes  out  of  doors.  Its stalk  was  usually  composed  of  a  thick,  coarse, loose-textured  cardboard,  steeped  in  nitre,  each piece about five inches long and an inch and a half wide. He  strips  were  then  neatly  cut  nearly through  transversely  into  twelve  smaller  strips.
Roughly a quarter- inch wide, thus leaving all the smaller  strips  still  partially  attached  on  the principle of the book matches of today. One edge of  the  long  strip  was  dipped  in  a  phosphoric inflaming  composition. When dry,  it was  easy  to tear off one of the small strips for use as required. When  ignited,  it  smoldered  slowly    with  a spluttering  flame  and  could  not  be  blown  out  by the wind.

The  name  of  the  maker  was  usually  roughly printed on the long strips, which w ere folded and sold  in  chip  boxes  of  the  sliding matchbox  type.
Later,  many  makers  scented  their  cardboard fuzees,  and  they  remained  in  common  use  in England  until  about  1865,  although  in  some continental  countries,  especially  Bosnia  and Spain,  these old  cardboard  fuzees were  still used up to the end of the nineteenth century.

In  1849,  James  Palmer,  of  Camberwell, introduced  another  form  of match -Vesuvians- intended,  like  the  fuzee,  for  use  solely  out-of-doors, for lighting pipes and cigars. It had a large pear-shaped head and consisted, in addition  to  the  usual  tip  of  phosphoric  igniting composition,  of  a  mass  of  nitre,  powdered charcoal,  wood  dust,  and  cascarailla  bark,  held together  by  an  admixture  of  gum  or  glue.  On ignition,  the head burnt briskly  for  ten or  twenty seconds  and  could  not  be  extinguished,  even  by the highest wind. The one great drawback was that the  stem  often  burned  through  before  the match had  ceased    to  flame,  allowing  the  large,  heavy head  to  fall while  still alight, often  setting  fire  to clothes,  carpets,  the  seats  of  carriages,  and  the like.  Later,  to  avoid  this,  Palmer  patented  a method  of  braiding  the  stem,  which  secured  the
head  to  it  by  a  network  of  sized  cotton  threads.

Later again, the stems were often made of glass or porcelain  and  made  tubular  to  prevent  them cracking  in  the  flame,  and  also  plugged  near  the top to prevent the flame from descending the tube, issuing from the bottom and burning the hand. The  Vesta,  which  had  a  stem  originally  made not  of  wood  but  wax  taper,  was  named  after Vesta,  the  Roman  Goddess  of  the  Hearth,  in whose temple the sacred fire was kept perpetually burning. Richard Bell coined the name “vesta” for the  new wax  tapers, which  are  still  produced  by this  firm  and Bryant & May—now  amalgamated together—a stem of cork pine wood replacing the wax taper.

The wooden  stem vesta has become  so popular that  the  wax-stemmed  form  is  now  only  made here in small quantities, but is still used widely in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Italy and Spain.

Matches were decidedly  stronger  in  those days. A  century-old  matchbox  carries  instructions  on the  box  warning  weak-lunged  people  not  to  use them because of the fumes. All the early forms of phosphorus  friction  matches  were,  however, dangerous  to  some extent. A box of  them  left on the kitchen mantelshelf, or  in  the hot  sun, would often  blaze  up  spontaneously.  Destruction  of carriers’  carts  passing  over  rough  roads  was caused  by  the  boxes  of matches,  including  their lading, igniting through being jarred in transit.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...