History of Matches
In 1669, phosphorous was discovered
- phosphorous was soon used in match heads.
In 1680, an Irish physicist
named Robert Boyle (Boyle's
Law) coated a small piece of paper with phosphorous and coated a small
piece of wood with sulfur. He then rubbed the wood across the paper and
created a fire. However, there was no useable match created by Robert Boyle.
In 1827, John Walker, English
chemist and apothecary, discovered that if he coated the end of a stick
with certain chemicals and let them dry, he could start a fire by striking
the stick anywhere. These were the first friction matches. The chemicals
he used were antimony sulfide, potassium chlorate, gum, and starch. Walker
did not patent his "Congreves" as he called the matches (alluding to the
rocket invented in 1808). Walker was a former chemist at 59 High
Street, in Stockton-on-Tees, England. His first sale of the matches was
on April 7, 1827, to a Mr. Hixon, a solicitor in the town. Walker
made little money from his invention. He died in 1859 at the age of 78
and is buried in the Norton Parish Churchyard in Stockton. (br1781- d1859)
One Samuel Jones saw Walker's "Congreves"
and decided to market them, calling his matches "Lucifers" "Lucifers" became
popular especially among smokers, but they had a bad burning odor.
In 1830, the French chemist,
Charles Sauria, created a match made with white phosphorous. Sauria's matches
had no odor, but they made people sick with a ailment dubbed "phossy jaw".
White phosphorous is poisonous.
In 1855, safety matches were
patented by Johan Edvard Lundstrom of Sweden. Lundstrom put red phosphorus
on the sandpaper outside the box and the other ingredients on the match
head, solving the problem of "phossy jaw" and creating a match that could
only be safely lit off the prepared, special striking, surface.
In 1889, Joshua Pusey invented
the matchbook, he called his matchbook matches "Flexibles". Pusey's patent
was unsuccessfully challenged by the Diamond Match Company who had invented
a similar matchbook (their striker was on the outside, Pusey's was on the
inside). His patent was later purchased by the Diamond Match Company in
1896 for $4,000 and a job offer.
In 1910, the Diamond Match
Company patented the first nonpoisonous match in the U.S., which used a
safe chemical called sesquisulfide of phophorous.
United States President William H.
Taft publicly asked Diamond Match to release their patent for the good
of mankind. They did on January 28, 1911, Congress placed a high
tax on matches made with white phosphorous.
The first 100 years of match making.
Boyle: Mighty Chemist
Boyle was the first prominent scientist
to perform controlled experiments and to publish his work with details
concerning procedure, apparatus and observations. Try also Robert
of the Match
The lucifer match has attained its
present high state of perfection by a long series of inventions of various
degrees of merit, the most important of which resulted from the progress
of chemical science.
A match consists of three basic
parts: a head, which initiates combustion via various materials like phosphorous;
a tinder substance to pick up and burn the flame, usually a piece of wood
or cardboard; and a handle, often the same as the tinder.
It Rich: Match Collecting
Back in the days when advertising
was mainly word-of-mouth, cast members from the Mendelson Opera Company
conceived a unique, and diminutive, way to let people know about their
next performance. The opera company decided in 1895 to purchase about 100
blank matchbooks from the Diamond Match Company.
Table of the Elements - Phosphorus
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