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Matchbook Holder

Matchbook Holder

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Usage conditions apply
Slim, wedge-shaped, rounded-end rectangular case with snap-closure, hinged cover featuring horizontal, engine-turned ribbed bands and a rectangular reserve at bottom left engraved "R.H.K."; plain back is engraved "JAN. 24-18" in italic block letters. Folded tabs inside back at sides and bottom hold matchbook in place. Gold-washed interior. Inside cover is struck incuse at top left "TIFFANY & CO.", while inside back is struck along bottom "A.R.T.MFG.CO" above "STERLING" and "RE. PAT. NOV.29. 1917" above "4380" with a series of letters scratched between them.
Maker is A.R.T. Mfg. Co. of New York, NY. Firm made pieces for the retail trade, including Tiffany, Gorham and others; nothing further known, needs further research. Patent not found.
Currently not on view
Object Name
holder, matchbook
date made
ca 1918
Date made
1917 or 1918
inscribed date
patent date
place made
United States: New York, New York City
place sold
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
silver (overall material)
gold (interior wash material)
overall: 3/8 in x 2 1/4 in x 1 3/4 in;.9525 cm x 5.715 cm x 4.445 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Lucinda de Leftwich Templin, Ph.D., in memory of Ella Rice Templin
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Hello. The original patent for this item is #749539 [Jan. 12, 1904] issued to Harold A. Dodge. This is the first U. S. invention patent for a matchbook holder. A couple months later, Dodge applied for a reissue, RE12290, which was granted on Nov. 29, 1904. This date has been often incorrectly cited on many matchbook holders as "Nov. 29, 1914." Your date of Nov. 29, 1917, is a new one on me. In any case, the correct date for the reissued patent is Nov. 29, 1904, even if the item is inscribed with some other date. A.R.T. were the initials of Mark Anthony, Samuel Robert, and Henry Traute. Traute is the marketing genius responsible for the enormous success of matchbooks themselves (he proposed giving matchbooks away free, while selling the advertising space on the matchbook) and the author of the most printed 4-word phrase in the English language: Close Cover Before Striking. He was a longtime employee, and then an executive, for the Diamond Match Co. The association between Dodge and A.R.T. can be traced to at least 1917 in a lawsuit where Dodge & Robert et. al. defended a patent infringement suit for RE12290 (243 fed 877 July 6, 1917, Circuit Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, #2243).

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