« September 2018 | Main | November 2018 »

October 2018

Inventing Fire

Tidaholm Safety Matches, 1860-1940. Tidaholm Match Company, Tidaholm, Sweden. Gift of George Ehrenfried, 89.7.10. Photograph by David Bohl.

In 1844, Swedish professor Gustaf Erik Pasch (1788-1862) invented the safety match. Swedish inventor and industrialist Johan Edvard (1815-1888) and his brother, Carl Frans Lundström (1823-1917), later refined and patented Pasch’s invention. They commercially manufactured non-phosphorous safety matches, similar to matches used today. The brothers opened a match factory in Jönköping, Sweden, in 1844 and debuted the safety matches to the public at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1855. The non-phosphorous matches with a separate striking feature proved safer than the earlier iterations of friction matches, first used in the late 1820s. 

The majority of match manufacturers were headquarted in Sweden in the late 1800s, but there were also a number of factories in the United States and other parts of Europe. In the U.S., businessman Ohio Columbus Barber (1841-1920) founded the Diamond Match Company in Akron, Ohio, in 1881. The Diamond Company was the largest manufacturer of matches in the United States in the late 1800s and is still active today.

The Museum & Library owns a number of match boxes manufactured in Europe and the United States.

Sport Safety Matches, 1860-1940. Sport Safety Matches, Finland. Gift of George Ehrenried, 89.7.9. Photograph by David Bohl.

These manufacturers include the Tidaholm Match Company, now known as Swedish Match, the Diamond Match Company, and Three Stars Safety  Match. Early match packaging was simple and usually only included a factory name and sometimes instructions for use. Later boxes not only illustrate the different brand names but also eye-catching  designs printed on the front and back. 

As matches gained popularity, businesses began to also use the packaging as a tool for inexpensive advertising and marketing. Match boxes featured illustrations related to food, liquor, beauty products, historical events, and even political propaganda. Match books enjoyed peak popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. Sales of matchbooks declined, as disposable lighters became more common and as numerous anti-smoking campaigns discouraged people from smoking.




Safety Matches, 1860-1940. The Diamond Match Company, Ohio. Gift of George Ehrenfried, 89.7.14-15. Photograph by David Bohl.

Digitized items from Library & Archives added to Digital Commonwealth

Digital Commonwealth logoThe Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is pleased to announce that it has contributed over 500 digitized items from its Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives to Digital Commonwealth. Digital Commonwealth is a non-profit collaborative organization, founded in 2006, that provides resources and services to support the creation, management, and dissemination of cultural heritage materials held by Massachusetts libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives. The Museum & Library joins nearly 200 institutions from across Massachusetts who have contributed historical materials to the site. By participating in Digital Commonwealth, the Museum increases the awareness and findability of the Library & Archives collections. The Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website remains the primary site for accessing our digital collections and is the only place where high resolution images of these digitized items are available.

Questions or comments may be directed to library@srmml.org.

New acquisition: 1750 Masonic ritual exposure

Masonry DissectedThrough a recent donation, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library acquired the very rare book pictured here. It is one of only three copies of the 1750 edition of a famous Masonic ritual exposure that are known to exist. Generously donated by the granddaughter of Roger Keith (1888-1968), Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts from 1948-1950, this 32-page pamphlet is a 1750 reprint of a Masonic ritual exposure originally printed in London in 1730 (see a digitized version here). The book was reprinted several times in London between 1730 and 1750, but this is the first American edition of the book.

The book is reprinted verbatim from earlier London editions, although the book also contains references to a sermon by Charles Brockwell that was not published until January 1, 1750. The title page does not say where or by whom the book was printed, noting only that it was done in 1749. Bibliographer Kent Walgren explains the discrepancy between the publication date and the quotation from the 1750 Brockwell sermon by noting that, "prior to 1752 the legal year began on Annunciation Day, March 25. [The book was therefore] probably printed between 1 Jan. and 25 Mar. 1749/50." (Read more about the 1752 calendar change here.)

Walgren makes a case for this book having been produced at Newport, Rhode Island, by Ann Smith Franklin (1696-1763), Benjamin Franklin’s sister-in-law, and a printer in her own right. Walgren suggests that the book might have been issued to exploit the public's interest in Joseph Green's Entertainment for a Winter's Evening, an anti-Masonic satire of Charles Brockwell's Brotherly Love Recommended in a Sermon Preached before the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Christ-Church, Boston, on Wednesday the 27th of December, 1749 (see a digitized copy of that book here). Both were published in 1750.

Walgren also notes that, although the text of Masonry Dissected is a Masonic ritual exposure, the book might have been printed for Freemasons, as an aide-mémoire for the members of Newport's first Masonic lodge. The Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston chartered this lodge on December 24, 1749. Freemasons purchasing ritual exposures may not be as strange as it seems at first. At a time when officially-sanctioned printed Masonic ritual was not available, the biggest customers for ritual exposures were likely not opponents of Freemasonry or curious non-members, but instead Masons themselves. For more on this topic, be sure to check out earlier blog post, Are Early Masonic Ritual Exposures Anti-Masonic?

Do you have a rare book that you'd like to donate? We'd love to hear from you! Send us an e-mail and tell us more.


Samuel Prichard
Masonry Dissected, 1749 [i.e. 1750]
Possibly Newport, Rhode Island
Possibly printed by Ann Smith Franklin
RARE 19.5 .P947 1750
Gift of Carolyn Keith Silvia