Matchbook covers were once upon a time a great vehicle for dynamic design and tawdry imagery.
Images and advertising first started showing up on matchbook covers in the early 1890’s. I suspect, like much print media/paper ephemera, the matchbook cover may soon be a thing of the past.
The reasonable policy of non-smoking in shared public spaces has dealt a serious blow to match cover graphics. Few bars, restaurants, café and hotels these days see any reason to supply freebee matches; even fewer advertisers see any reason to make use of matchbook covers as a promotional vehicle.
The demise of matchbooks promoting cafes and bars will have a devastating effect on the writers of detective fiction. Their hard-boiled protagonists used to always find matchbooks on murder victims—providing the gumshoes with valuable clues (and also moving the plot along). No more. Another grand tradition down the drain.
Here’s my random collection (more like an accumulation; serious collectors are called phillumenists -which I’m not).