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Matchboxes From The 1970s

Matchboxes From The 1970s

These vintage matchboxes from a private collection will take you back in time

Sumeet Keswani
November 15 , 2016
01 Min Read

Imagine getting ready to take off and lighting up a cigarette onboard to calm your nerves. Impossible as that may sound in today’s world, this was pretty common back on international flights in the 60s and 70s, according to Gautam Hemmady. These charm­ing matchboxes, or ‘matchbooks’, are part of his massive personal collection. Previously an architect, Hemmady now collects everything from woodwork to clocks, stamps and books, and was covered widely by the media when some rare matchboxes from his 30,000-strong collection were exhibited in Delhi this June. Seen here are three of his most prized items. Hemmady says these were among the first cardboard matchbooks made in India, manu­factured in the late 1970s by Wimco, the legendary Swedish company that became synonymous with quality matches. Before this, wooden matchboxes were the norm. While he pays a hefty price for most of his rare items, these were a serendipitous discovery. A college batchmate of Hemmady’s ap­proached him after the exhibition and offered him “a few old matchboxes” collected by his father who had travelled extensively in the 70s. Hemmady readily agreed but even he did not expect to acquire items of such historic significance, that too free of cost. He says Wimco first made such cardboard matchbooks for companies, like Air India, Oberoi-Sheraton and Indian Airlines in this case, before making them available for the general public. A woman handing over a hukkah pipe to the iconic AI Maharaja and the silhouette of a Boeing 707 on a matchbox that folds like a gadget—these would have redefined cool for smokers back in the day


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