BLACK INK on the fingers

It's just a little match box, nothing more. I was given this box over 38 years ago by a childhood friend's step-father. I was in art college at the time and he thought I'd enjoy the content of the box. No, it wasn't full of matches that I could have used to burn holes in my art which could have turned into some really interesting performance piece. It was full of Speedball pen points. Lots of old pen points. For four years I was close friends with pen points. I did some seriously bad calligraphy during my college years. I think back on it and cringe, but...that's not the point of the box. 


I like the box. I like the handlettering and think it appropriate that the box once held the tools for handlettering. Who knows when the last match was used. I have no idea how old the box is. It's pretty shabby and has ink stains, but it went beyond its original use. Someday somebody will throw it out. To them it will just be a little old match box, but I know it's more than that. I know that at some point a person kept all their special little pen points in there. Their index finger most likely had a stain of black. More than once they probably worked on some lettering for hours only to accidently put their hand down on the wet ink requiring them to start all over again and possibly releasing a torrent of profanity. Yup, been there, done that.

Haven't touched a pen point in years. They're here somewhere in my desk, I think. I sort of miss them...along with that black stain on my index finger.

As to the matches. What can one say about matches except that these had the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval which must have meant they were very very special matches. A match guarantee. Don't see that anymore. Matches made in the USA with a guarantee. How exactly did they work that? If a match didn't strike did you put it in an envelope and mail it to Good Housekeeping? What sort of proof did they require? And if they believed you did you get a refund? For the entire box? or just those that didn't burn? Gives a person pause...but not for too long. Don't think you'll find too many guarantees on matches these days. About all you get is the surgeon general's warning to "close cover before striking" which has always struck me as a little funny.  Who was the first person at the match company to realize they needed this warning? Was it an attorney? Did match companies have attorneys way back when? Yeah, I'm spending far too much time thinking about this little box.


One other thought...if they're national matches why are they made by a universal company? Seems like somebody was thinking world domination one match at a time. 

And if you're still reading this and you'd like to see a little bit about Speedball pen points take a look at this link. It brings back a lot of memories for some of us.


  1. Anonymous1/30/2009

    I like the match box very much. I used to save all of them that I came across. I still remember the pleasure of sliding the inner box back and forth. I have a match box with a little mouse, made out of tiny shells, in it. My grandfather gave it to me.I doubt if he made the mouse, but shell 'art' was very popular at the time.
    Match boxes were just super for holding little things.

  2. Yes, the sliding the box in and out. Little bit of mystery. They were also good to use as little houses. Little boxes as little houses. You could put a whole village together in minutes.

    I also remember building elaborate little interiors inside of small boxes. I had a nice little white square jewelry box in which I put little walls and built furniture out of construction paper. Then I could just put the top on the box and take the little house with me. My neighbor, Sandy, and I also built a tiny grocery store. At least it looked like a grocery store to us. We had plans for a whole village but then my dad was transferred back to the mainland and I just brought my little box house along on the ship. Don't know whatever happened to it. Yes, little boxes. Lots of fun.