"I think that’s one of the reasons I love my matchbook collection - these ordinary bits of jetsam are exactly today what they were back then. If I want I can strike a match and smell 1947, 1965, 1974." -- James Lileks, January 20, 2002

As part of his ongoing quest to archive 1940s, 50s and 60s pop culture, Minneapolis writer James Lileks gives us "Matchbook-O-Rama," a collection of vintage matchbook covers from the "Golden Age of Smoking". Each featured matchbook has full-color, life-sized scans of the front and reverse of the cover (and the inside of the book if something noteworthy is lurking there). Lileks annotates each matchbook (nearing 50 to date) with his trademark combination of pithy commentary and wistful longing for a better time (albeit one that ended before his birth). He updates Matchbook-O-Rama somewhat-regularly, usually adding two matchbooks a week. Most of the matchbooks depicted originate from long-gone restaurants and bars from the Upper Midwest, betraying Lileks' North Dakotan background in the process.

Matchbook-O-Rama is just one portion of Lileks' Flotsam Project, a peerless collection of pop culture artifacts. The section debuted on February 19, 2002 with its first six matchbooks, some of which were previously seen in "Flotsam Cove," Lileks' dumping ground for miscellaneous crap that he can't fit into the other pages of the Project (including The Institute of Official Cheer and Curious Lucre).

Some standout matchbooks include:

  • The Sisseton Hatchery's "EAT MORE TURKEY/FEEL PERKY" cover featuring a knife-wielding man staring lecherously at the ass end of a large roasted turkey.
  • A cover touting Old Nick candy bars, complete with the disembodied heads of a euphoric nuclear family.
  • You geeks will love this... "Learn basic computer programming at home/Experienced men earn $7,000 - $12,000 per year/115,000 more programmers needed by 1975/High school grads eligible!"
  • Seattle, Washington's Green's, a matchbook that dates back to the times when phone numbers used letter prefixes AND only had six digits. I doubt dialing 'ELiot 1165' will reach Green's anymore.
  • Chicago's Sands Motel, which put enough money into their matchbook budget to afford a map of Chicago on the inside cover and printed names of the various amenities available on the sticks of the individual matches: "Restaurant & Lounge", "Phone In All Rooms" and "Luxuriously Furnished".
  • A book offered by the International House of Pancakes that had a convenient adhesive strip, abling the smoker to stick his matches directly onto his cigarette package.

LILEKS (James) Matchbook - O - Rama - http://www.lileks.com/match/index.html

Submitted to donfreenut's neverending quest, Everything Quests - Smoking