DEDICATED TO PRESERVING THE HISTORY AND ART OF AMERICA IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY THAT APPEARED ON MATCHCOVERS, THE PRIME METHOD OF ADVERTISING AT THAT TIME.
THIS WEBSITE BEGAN AS A BETTER WAY TO TRADE
This website began from my desire to show my low Phone Number collection to my matchcover collecting friends. Here’s why. In the old days a matchcover trading friend would mail me a quantity of low Phone Number matchcovers while I would send a quantity of matchcovers meeting their collecting criteria to them. But as my Phone Number collection matured I found that only a small fraction of the matchcovers I received found a home in my collection. There was a lot of wasted time and postage expense and less satisfaction among us all.
A list of matchcovers, while having some archival or cataloging benefit, would not fully serve the remedy that I had in mind. Scanned color pictures of my flattened matchcovers showing the actual condition, quality and artwork were necessary as I wanted to offer my friends the feeling that they were holding each matchcover in their own hands. With pictures of all of the matchcovers in my collection my friends could then mail or trade with me only those Phone Number matchcovers that either I did not have or that were in better condition or had more interesting artwork so as to upgrade my collection. Trading matchcovers was significantly more efficient. A list would likely be sufficient for the case of missing telephone numbers but would not be a benefit for enabling upgrades.
The next important step was to capitalize on the fact that nearly all of my Phone Number matchcovers could additionally be included in one or more other collecting categories (i.e., lodging, gas station, patriotic, etc.). In fact there are dozens upon dozens of recognized collecting categories in the matchcover collecting hobby today.
Think about it: with physical matchcovers a collector usually places that matchcover in an album that itself is centered around one particular theme or category. Unless a collector has a second (or multiple) identical matchcover, that physical matchcover would not appear in the collector’s different album(s) that was centered around a different theme. For example, consider a matchcover from a business that is a restaurant, has a low phone number, and has patriotic artwork on the rear cover. The actual matchcover could reside in any of three albums or collections. How is a collector to decide?
I knew that an intelligent data base was needed to allow every one of my Phone Number matchcover images to also be included in other collecting categories. And modern data bases can solve the collector’s dilemma of which category does a matchcover belong. This turned the old way of thinking – a physical matchcover that resided in one page of one album of one collection – on its head. When matchcovers are scanned individually and placed into a data base the images can be sorted into as many categories and sub-categories as desired. One matchcover image can be a member of multiple “virtual collections.”
I began by preparing an outline and website layout from a collector’s viewpoint. Beyond the data base I knew an easy-to-use accessing method to search and group my Phone Number matchcover images into these other categories was needed. But a skilled programmer and website designer I was not. Fortunately I was able to turn to my son, Scott (Sierra Diablo member #535), and have him lead the website design. He worked with 9Planets for programming and web hosting.
The initial website was running in 2010 and was immediately useful for more than just seeing what Phone Number matchcovers that I had. A visitor could select among different popular categories and let the website access the data base and present the visitor with all the matchcover images included in that category. In some categories there are even provisions to narrow down within the primary category. (For example, searching for the keyword “Diner” among the eating establishments.)
GENERAL SITE NAVIGATION
This website has seen many improvements and enhancements over the last decade, many of which have to do with the power of the search function.
The most popular categories are shown on the “All Categories” web page and more specific sub-categories are listed below them accessible by just one click. (The number to the right of the category is the number of matchcover images in the data base.) Everything (and more) is also available at the right in the drop down Search menu which includes even more focused sub-categories.
MORE TIPS ON NAVIGATING THE SITE
When viewing results of a category from my Phone Number collection in the data base the matchcover images will be arranged twelve to a web page. Click a cover to enlarge the image and see what other categories that image appears in. Click on small arrow to move forward or backward. Click on large arrow for an auto slide show.
The display of a few of the sub-categories has been tailored to make the experience more enjoyable. To that end the matchcover images in a few sub-categories (Women, Hillbillies, Safety Series, Stock Designs and Americana) are rotated 180° since the interesting image is usually on the rear cover.
Also if you search directly for Full Lengths in the All Categories web page or to the right in the Search menu, they will be displayed in the horizontal format. But if you search for another category that happens to include a full length matchcover, that full length matchcover will appear as a vertical image so it fits into the display matrix of that category.
The Blue Line Arts Matchcover Show can be accessed from the Search Menu on the right. All “float frame” and “tray” displays have been photographed and the individual matchcovers have been scanned and the pictures made available to you. When viewing the Float Frame sub-category, a “Skip to Category” function appears in the right menu area that will allow you to quickly access a specific sub-category. (A full index is also provided at the bottom as a PDF file which you can open in another window.) There is a similar set of functions for visiting the Breweries category. Access the Breweries collection below the Blue Line Arts Matchcover Show category.
And finally another powerful tool is a keyword search. Type your keyword (a category or town, state not necessary) into the white rectangle in the upper tool bar on the right side (“Search this website”) and hit Enter on your keyboard.
I have heard from new users that the best way to get comfortable using this website is to simply try things: explore with the Search function, click through matchcover images, expand and study the images and enjoy over 30,000 color matchcover images that this website has to offer.
MY PHONE NUMBER COLLECTION
First, a word about my low Phone Number collection as it is my most active collecting category today and it spawned the work that lead to this matchcovercollector.com website. My goal is to collect all of the telephone numbers from 1 to 9999. But my collection is actually four parallel groups. I have a Phone Number group consisting of numbers on the “face” (e.g., front cover usually but the rear cover occasionally) and a second Phone Number group consisting of numbers on the saddle (flat portion on top of a full book). I have a third Phone Number group of those numbers on the “face” with a lettered prefix (exchange) and, of course, a fourth Phone Number group of numbers with a lettered prefix on the saddle too. 40,000 numbers in these four combinations exist and my Phone Number collection is approaching 29,000 matchcovers today in 2021.
EXPLORING MY 4 DIGIT PHONE NUMBER COLLECTION
I have about 70% of my overall goal of 40,000 phone number matchcovers and I am always looking to add to my collection.
To search for a specific phone number in my collection enter up to 4 digits in the Phone Number box in the Search menu to the right of this web page (or in the right side of the All Categories web page). The search results will show up to four matchcovers all with the phone number that you entered. If fewer than four matchcovers are displayed my collection is missing an element(s).
Clicking on the Next Number >> at the bottom will advance the display to the next phone number.
To keep my collection focused I limit it to 20-strike US matchcovers only (neither Canadian nor foreign are included). Extensions or suffixes after the phone number are not permitted. The four categories and the number of elements in each category circa June 2021 are:
- Up to four digits on the face or back – 8017
- Up to four digits on the saddle – 5755
- Prefix with up to four digits on the face or back – 7783
- Prefix with up to four digits on the saddle – 6951
A fun side note: a majority of old manumarks are in the prefix categories.
I also have several special collections on the website outside of my primary Phone Number collection. These include the following libraries of matchcover images:
- Diamond Quality (DQ) Hotels: over 1300 images
- Breweries without co-advertising: over 630 images
- Old Manumark – I have a substantial number of matchcovers from many early and hard-to-find manufacturers including over 800 Crowns and 700 Diamond Quality (DQ) matchcovers.
- And finally a very rare and unique VIP signature collection on matchcovers collected by Ernestine Abbott (RMS secretary 19) and her daughter Louise Alfonso in the early 1960s.
In April 2021 the Blue Line Arts gallery of Roseville, California, displayed my premium and most significant matchcovers. (Phone Numbers were not a highlighted part of this public exhibition.) About two thousand flattened matchcovers were displayed in 200 gallery quality “float frames”. Full match books, including features, were displayed in 12” by 12” trays on pedestals. This perhaps was the first serious major curated collection of matchcovers at an American art gallery or museum type venue. Images from this show are also available on this website.
EXPANDING INTO THE FUTURE
It has taken years but the website is evolving beyond phone numbers into a reference library for matchcover categories. Route 66 enthusiast
Phil Gordon is setting up a Route 66 matchcover library on a satellite site. The Route 66 matchcover images from the state of Texas, an amalgamation of the collections of eight American matchcover collectors, is nearly finished and other states will be added. Phil welcomes your support and contribution of scanned covers. Michael Hothan is our first collector to set up his personal collection on a satellite. More will come on his project. Future endeavors include a network connecting buyers and sellers, want ads, local club news, and convention and local meetings schedules with contact information.
There are no membership requirements, dues or passwords but rather just good matchcover information and images. I invite you to spend some time viewing the Phone Number collection and the categories into which they have also been sorted as well as the several special collections that have also been uploaded to this website.
If you have any comments or questions about this website or if you can help augment my Phone Number collection please click the “Contact Loren” link at the upper right and send me a message. I would welcome the opportunity to purchase any Phone Number matchcovers that either I don’t have or are consequential quality upgrades from what I do have.
I hope you have as much fun viewing the matchcovers as I did creating this website.