Photo Essay: A Brief History of Hotels and Restaurants as Seen Through Matchbook Covers

By Jonathan Spira on 21 October 2015
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My mother, who didn’t smoke, did travel the world. She collected matchboxes and matchbooks virtually everywhere she went.

Matchbooks have been around since 1892, and have been used for marketing and advertising purposes almost since their invention, but, with a decline in smoking and a general prohibition on smoking in public in many places, it’s no longer common to find a beautifully designed matchbook set in an ashtray on a restaurant table or a hotel room.

A few restaurants continue to print them as keepsakes, including Michael’s New York and La Condesa in Austin, and many collectors still hold a torch for them, but they are largely a relic from a bygone era.

Here’s a look at some of the matchbooks from hotels and restaurants in my mother’s collection, as well as the occasional emery board.

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

Click here to continue to Page 2Hôtel Ritz Paris and Hotel Imperial

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