Reply To: Matchbooks in Collections – Heads or no heads?

Patricia Miller

Hi Renee. This topic has come up many times.  This is the most useful response I have seen, but I have more if you want to look at them. Contact me offline. This response is from Henry Crawford at Texas Tech.

Pat Miller
Henry’s response:

Don’t remove the matches, they’re an integral part of the object.  If
they’re paper matches from the late 1950s or so, I don’t see a need for
immediate alarm.  We have similar materials in our advertising collection.
They are likely safety matches, which were invented to prevent your biggest fear, (I assume) accidental combustion.  Your only concern is that your storage temperature should not be so high that combustion could occur, and for most museums that’s not a problem.  As for the sulfur, again, safety matches don’t have enough concentrated amounts to cause any harm.  If you’re concerned about sulfur gas buildup, vented storage could help prevent that if you’ve got lots (and I mean LOTS) of matches, but that’s pretty much all you’d need to do.  Adherence to proper storage,
temperature, and humidity standards appropriate for paper should keep the matches safe.

Oh, and keep out of reach of children 😉