Striking Images

Striking Images

Striking Images: Vintage Matchbook Cover Art

by Monte Beauchamp

Chronicle Books

As scared as I am of (some of) what America is now, I’m terrified of (some of) what it used to be. If the picture on a matchbook cover can be considered a kind of lowest common denominator of American society, then what are we to use to do the math now? (Yeah, I know, web banners.) Let’s say that a matchbook advertising bail bonds can tell you exactly what kind of bar you’re drinking in. Then what is one to think if one encounters a matchbook advertising a bordello “strictly for the sterner sex”?

Though the casual racism and sexism displayed by a few of these little cardstock pieces of history is shocking, there are others- the majority of the examples- which can still charm and teach us today. How can we keep morale up in a time of war? How can we educate the populace about public health risks (aside from smoking)? How are we to know where to go for the finest steaks and chops? Matchbooks will tell us.

These unbelievably vivid works of art are shown with perfect detail on heavy matte-finish paper. They are reproduced larger than actual size, showing all the artifacts of the printing process. The treatment is perfect for reproducing matchbook covers. Smaller than a Gideon Bible, yet weighs half a brick.

Nice book, but (some of) it is horrifying.

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