The Mid-20th Century's Most Brilliant Matchbox Art

At the time they were created, no one ever thought that the tiny images on matchbox covers would be collectors items one day. Not only are they nice little pieces of anonymous art, but they give us a glimpse into the era, the country, and the advertising culture in which they were printed.

Matchbox labels from Eastern Europe often featured government-owned businesses or public health and safety messages—yet despite their bureaucratic messaging, the designs incorporate a bright, clean modernism. As McDevitt asked on her blog, “Why did this area of the world embrace modern design and imagery when many countries, including Britain, still preferred the Victorian aesthetic?” By adopting the Mid-Century Modern forms, these socialist states projected the brightest of futures, even in a time of Cold War tensions. The labels capture a time of transition, carefully balancing a reverence for nature and family with Space Age technology and urban living.

See a gallery of dozens of these matchbox covers from all over the world at Collectors Weekly.

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