Matchbook Memories

A collection of memories through take-away objets …

I lived with a dear friend of mine in my 20’s who grew up in London and traveled the world. She had this hobby of collecting matchbooks from various places she visited, and she’d keep them in a fishbowl in our living room. I thought it was such a neat idea, I started to do the same over the years, especially from places that held a special memory for me.

But when I pulled the matchbooks together for this post, I was so sad to find I had so few left!! I didn’t think about the fact that we should have kept them all, but who’s going to keep empty matchbooks? That seems even more sad.

I don’t even know if restaurants and hotels have custom matchbooks anymore. I would imagine with the new no-smoking laws in California and New York, it’s becoming more of a thing of the past, right?

Did you know you can actually purchase a starter collection on Etsy? Some really cool options out there. Love the old New York ones.

As a graphic designer too, there is something I love about collecting “brands” from various hotels and restaurants I’ve visited. And I do still evaluate, do the logos and graphics do a good job of matching each space’s location and/or interior? I’m sure I’m overthinking it, but that’s kinda my job.

Do you collect matchbooks too?


Erika Brechtel

Erika Brechtel

Creative Director

Desiring an online space to explore well-rounded, inspired content in all topics she loves most, Erika created 'The E List' (formerly the Small Shop blog) in 2010. When not enjoying an β€œoccasional" glass of wine and wanderlusting for even warmer climates, Erika can be found sharing laughs with friends and family, and trying her very best to keep up with her 6-year old daughter (yet failing miserably).

  1. These are beautiful. My favorite is from your first anniversary dinner. I love how you styled the matchbooks and wrote the descriptions.

  2. Yes!! i do this, too! ours are in a glass jar in the kitchen. my parents always collected them; probably why i developed an affinity for them myself. i also tend to keep wine corks from special nights. often, i write the occasion and/or force whoever i’m with to sign it. weird, i know, but it will be fun to look back on someday.

    quite a lovely little collection you have there πŸ™‚

  3. What a fun idea ! Love how they are all so different. I don’t collect them and like you said I feel like I don’t really see them that much anymore (maybe Im not really looking) but it makes sense with the smoking bans πŸ™


  4. I’ve never collected anything (well maybe I sort of kind of collect dogs), but if I were the collecting type, matchbooks would definitely be my first choice. Love the shots of your collection!

  5. What a sweet post. I love that each one conjures up a memory for you. And it makes sense that a hotel’s style should be reflected in their brand and graphics. I’ve never thought about that much in the past, but it’s been on my mind more and more lately.

  6. You found out you were pregnant on your 6th anniversary? Now I don’t feel as bad that I’ve been married for 5 and a half years and still don’t have babies.

    I only recently started collecting matchbooks. I put mine in a bowl in the bathroom. πŸ™‚ I think they’re making a comeback in restaurants. Not all but a few. I bought some really pretty vintage ones for like a dollar at the thrift store. One was from Italy! I put them in a safe place and now I can’t find them.

    My husband collects restaurant business cards. He’s been doing it long before I even met him. It’s his thing and I need to find a way to display them all. I think I might just copy this idea you did. πŸ™‚

  7. So many fantastic places!! I took Michael to a birthday dinner at Gramercy Tavern the first year we met. Lupa is our go to for Italian (we live in walking distance). Rosa Mexicano is my favorite Mexican in the city and Blue Water Grill is a staple!! I used to collect matchbooks but forgot about my collection. I need to take this up again. Thanks for the reminder!! You need to come back to NYC soon. πŸ™‚

  8. Have to admit, I do this too and have for years. I used to keep them in a hurricane glass vase, but now they’re in a silver bowl on a bookcase. Eventually they’ll end up on my bar cart, whenever I find one that’s affordable!

    Love the blog! You’re a daily source of inspiration for me. Psyched you’re following me on Pinterest. πŸ™‚

  9. This is such a great idea, I might “switch”… let me explain!
    I have collected – for a similar cause – little sugar pouches from all over; cafe meetings with friends, hotel stays etc… well, I moved to Florida (I’m from Scandinavia) and was blissfully unaware of sugar ants, need I say more?? I had an infastation, had to throw out the lot, scrub my cabinet….
    In Europe pretty much every little cafe or restaurant have their info printed on these small “tokens” so one can actually have quite an interesting collection… well, no more!! LOL

  10. I was looking for ideas on what to do with my matchbooks when I stumbled across your blog. We have many of the same matches from NYC and LA. Great blog; I like your style.