Got a Light?

November 4, 2008 - January 10, 2009
Central Library, Foyer Gallery Cases
Got a Light? Matches and match memorabilia

from the collection of Larry Cole & Joe DeGennaro

From Joe DeGennaro:

My love of history was the reason I began collecting matchbook covers. From the 1920s to the 60s, all sorts of businesses gave away matchbook covers bearing their advertisements, as did fraternal organizations, funeral homes, colleges and universities, government offices, political candidates, religious organizations, branches of the military, and even hospitals and nursing homes. Individuals even produced them for personal occasions such as weddings and bar mitzvahs. Many of these covers were designed by talented commercial artists and are themselves miniature works of art. They are also reflections of their time, speaking to us in the voice of the past.

The matchbooks featured here have been selected from my own collection and that of my fellow collector, Larry Cole. They date from the turn of the century up to the present. Some are from Brooklyn businesses, both past and present. We hope they'll bring back memories of a business you, your parents or your grandparents frequented; a restaurant where a nice meal was enjoyed; or a hotel where relatives or friends may have stayed. Because of disposable lighters and bans on smoking in public spaces, many businesses are no longer ordering matches, and these small works of art may someday disappear entirely.

BPL Exhibition, Larry ColeBPL Exhibition, Joe DeGennaroLarry Cole and Joe DeGennaro. Joe DeGennaro started collecting matchbooks in the late 60s and has since amassed a collection of more than 200,000 matchcovers and matchboxes. He also collects other match-related memorabilia including early match safes, match dispensers, sales catalogs and match company stock certificates.


To contact the artists: