November, 2020
In This Issue
  • Matchbook Holders with Cigar Advertising
  • Seminar & Tours of Collections at AAAA Winter Retreat
  • Polansky Collection Auctioned
  • Ads from the Past
  • Awesome Antique Store Names
  • Wanted Items
Matchbook Holders with Cigar Advertising
By Andy Denes
Pocket matchbook holders are a 20th century version of the match safe. A match safe held loose stick matches, but a matchbook holder enclosed a paper matchbook. A match safe would provide a roughened area to strike the loose stick match, but the matchbook holder would secure the striker that was an integral part of the paper matchbook itself. The paper matchbook was first patented in the last decade of the 19th century, and, in 1904, the first patent for a matchbook holder was recorded by Harold Dodge, and manufactured by A. R. T. Mfg. Co. of New York.
Advertising on A. R. T. matchbook holders based on the 1904 patent included ads for cigar manufacturers and retailers, but the United Cigar Stores, and their associated National Cigar Stands, were responsible for a lion’s share of the examples produced before World War I.  With the opening of a new United Cigar Store, local newspapers would run ads offering metal matchbook holders to every customer, sometimes with, and sometimes without, a purchase. Many of United Cigar matchbook holders advertised specific United Cigar brands on the front of the holder and have the Cigars United logo on the back. (Photo to right)

The next generation of matchbook holders came from the J. E. Mergott Co. of Newark, NJ. While the 1904 examples were tapered (giving room for the match heads at the top, and the striker at the bottom), the first Mergott patent (1912) was not tapered. (Photos below)
A 2nd style was patented by Mergott (1921 & 1923), which was tapered and had the striker area exposed. (Photos below)
While A. R. T. and Mergott holders are the most common holders with cigar ads, there were several other manufacturers of matchbook holders active during the first third of the 20th century. Leather, plastic, and other styles of metal holders can be found. (Photos below)
Some personal thoughts on valuation: I have obtained most of the matchbook holders in my collection for $100 or less. The relative scarcity and obscurity of matchbook holders make firm valuation guidelines problematic. I think that, when a dealer tries to value an unfamiliar item, one determining characteristic will be size. Since matchbook holders are small, as collectibles go, many can be found for $25 or less. At the other end of the spectrum, when a matchbook holder is cross-collectible, the value will be determined by that other market. Rarely will a matchbook holder reach the lofty level of a vintage Coca Cola item, but ultimately that will depend on the appetite of the cross-collector. Among cigar ad matchbook holders, those from United Cigar Store, and some of the tin plate/celluloid examples from cigar manufacturers, are relatively common. Almost all of the others range from "rarely encountered" to "sole-surviving examples," at least in my experience.

Feel free to contact me at with any questions, comments, etc.

Click the link below to view photos of all the cigar ad matchbook holders in my collection, a total of 75. This is probably the most comprehensive accumulation of such items to be seen. This listing includes scarcity ratings for each item.
Seminar & Tours of Collections at the 2021 AAAA Virtual Winter Retreat
In last month's Checkerboard, we provided a broad overview of the upcoming 2021 AAAA Virtual Winter Retreat that will take place on January 23, 2021. In this article, we will focus on the seminar and tours of outstanding collections.

However, before we get to that, we want to continue recruiting sellers. Whether you just want to cull a handful or items from your collection or are a dealer with extensive inventory, please consider becoming a seller. There are no fees, commissions or any other types of charges. In addition, your profits won't be reduced by travel, hotel, food or other expenses. This is a great sales opportunity at a time not much else is going on. Sellers will have access to a user-friendly on-line tool to upload, arrange and remove photos, contact information, and, if desired, descriptions and pricing. If you want to be a seller or have any questions about the Retreat, click here.
Now, for the seminar and tours. We are very pleased to bring you a stellar line-up of once-in-a-lifetime offerings. The seminar and tours to be presented are guaranteed to be be mesmerizing and memorable. Read on for details.

Seminar: Up in Smoke

Presenter: Chuck Kovacic

Description: Cigar labels, as well as caning labels, have always been a popular advertising collectible. But where to find them and how and where were they produced? Their story follows an arc of printing technology and artistry. They illustrated the changing tastes and profiled the history of our country. Mythology, music, the military, with a parade of stylish men and beautiful women graced these colorful images, typically, all while smoking a fine cigar! Importantly, they offer insight into early mass marketing and changing tastes. Chuck Kovacic, a long time AAAA member, is delighted to share this amazing and entertaining story.

About the Presenter: Chuck Kovacic is a professionally trained fine artist from the Cleveland Institute of Art. Currently, he resides in the Los Angeles area and has assisted serious collectors and select auction houses with their restoration needs for over 40 years. As a respected member of NABA and AAAA, he has published articles and conducted seminars at their past gatherings and is delighted to be a 2021 Winter Retreat "speaker". He welcomes your restoration questions at
Tours of Outstanding Collections

#1: Hook's Drug Store Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana

Tour Guides/Presenters: Dan Russell & Bob Hunt

Description: The Hook’s Drug Store Museum is a treasure trove of wonderful historic imagery that was commonly found in businesses of this type. The virtual tour by Dan Russell and Bob Hunt will highlight not only some of our outstanding advertising signs in the museum, but also examples of fascinating medicinal containers, promotional items, glassware, figural pieces, and other items that everyone will enjoy. The Hook’s Historic Drugstore and Soda Fountain was opened in 1966, on the grounds of the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The Hook Drug Company, then owner of one of the largest Midwest drugstore chains in the Midwest (Hook’s Drugstores) sponsored the formation of the museum as part of the Indiana Sesquicentennial celebration of Statehood, celebrating the history of pharmacy and medicine. Today, the Museum is one of the oldest, best attended venues of its type in the US, having welcomed well over 3 million visitors since opening. The primary museum collection replicates a typical Indiana Drugstore interior of the late 19th Century. Complete with authentic and historic medicines, cabinets, glassware, advertising, and more, visitors can easily imagine they have just stepped back over 100 years in time when they visit. The Museum today is owned and operated by a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to preserve, protect, and promote this special collection which has become an icon for generations of visitors.

About the Presenters: Dan Russell and Bob Hunt are both retired from careers at Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis. They have been going on collecting trips together since first working together in the early 1990’s, and both focus on pharmaceutical related items, especially Lilly. Dan has been collecting seriously for over 50 years, and sparked Bob’s interest in the hobby. Dan is acknowledged as one of the most knowledgeable, and successful collectors of Lilly items anywhere, but also has notable collections of Upjohn and other ethical manufacturers, as well as patent medicines. He was called in as a special consultant by Lilly to help set-up the historic replica building of Eli Lilly’s first facility at the corporate headquarters, and is regularly contacted by the Eli Lilly Archivist for questions because of his extensive knowledge.

#2: W. R. Rudy Country Store & Drug Store Museum, Mount Airy, MD

Tour Guide/Presenter: Howard Parzow

Description: The Country Store Museum is located on 10 South Main Street Mount Airy, Maryland. This building was erected in 1888 as a Country Store and Drugstore which stayed active until the late 1960's. The building stayed vacant until I purchased the property from The Myers family in 1976. This three story brick building would become the perfect location for showcasing my personal collection, just like a movie set this property stood along the Main Street for over 132 years waiting for someone to come along with the passion for the proper restoration. Come inside to view the old counters, showcases, original packaging, early colorful advertising signs, plus hundreds of items of this by gone era.

About the Presenter: I'm Howard Parzow, Auctioneer, a fellow collector and a member of AAAA. I began collecting back in 1972 with a passion for one day building a collection of advertising and to create a museum. Preserving historical artifacts in this field was my right indeed. Once I purchased The W. R. Rudy building, I knew where my vision would take me. Attending many auctions, flea markets and antique shows and later purchasing other collections, I pursued my passion like a mad man getting to the finish line! Now at 72 years old, that passion still exists and I'm still collecting with no end in sight, enjoying my purchases and meeting great people along the way.
Tom Polansky Collection Auctioned
On September 18-19, 2020, Tom Polansky, an important figure in the world of antique advertising, auctioned off the bulk of his collection. Showtime Auctions, now a division of Route 32 Auctions, handled the sale. The auction included many rare and spectacular items from Tom’s Collection. He commented that “Mike and Lori Eckles did a great job, especially for a COVID on-line auction”. He added that the results were “outstanding”. Tom reports that he turned 80 this year and figured it was time to auction off the collection.
While he admits to missing his three wooden Indians and all his “stuff”, he muses that “It’s fun to pass along my lifetime collection to new homes”. He did keep his favorite Green River Whisky large tin sign, Dixie Queen and Pedro lunch box tins, and some Diamond Dye Cabinets to set things on.

Tom was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1940 and moved to California with his parents and brother in 1951. He received a B.S. degree in management engineering at Cal State in Los Angeles in 1962. He enlisted in the US Air Force and served for 11 years. He resigned his commission as a Regular Air Force Captain in 1973. In 1985, Tom got married and his wife, Betty, has been very supportive of his hobby. Their house was loaded with the collection. Their property has an 18 square foot barn that held the shop inventory.

As a boy, Tom collected coins, stamps, and streetcar transfers. He began collecting vintage signage, trays, and tins around 1959, which makes him one of the early pioneers of the hobby.  He recalls that there were initially only a few interested in such things. He met Clark Secrest in Denver in the 1970’s and signed on as a Charter Member of TCCA. After his stint in the Air Force ended in 1973, he started selling antique advertising as his new career.

He signed on to be a seller at Neil Woods’ and Ray Klug’s first Indy Ad Show around 1973. He set up regularly at that show and at the Portland EXPO Show for many years. He also ran a very successful mail-order business. In the 1970’s, he authored three books, two on advertising tins and one on trays (see above photo), which were very well-received by collectors. He is very well-known and regarded within the antique advertising community.

While the bulk of Tom’s collection was sold at auction, approximately 200 apple boxes of lower-priced items continue to be available at bargain prices. You can send for a 21 page list of 2,000 items priced for dealers and collectors, including: tins, store stock, labels, small signs, maps, postcards, stock certificates, old checks, prints, and bottles. Priced to sell. Send your request to: Tom Polansky, P.O. Box 1232, Sisters, OR, 97759. Telephone: 541-410-8029.  
Ads from the Past...and Good Riddance!
Here is another collection of real ads from the past that reveal changing sensitivities, norms, scientific knowledge, and levels of sophistication. These ads and/or products would never pass muster today! Get a good laugh out of what was regarded as persuasive in years' gone by. Our thanks go to Gordon Addington, who passed these along to us.
Awesome Antique Store Names
In the August, 2018 issue of the Checkerboard, we reported on an antique store in Grove, Oklahoma with the awesome name of Junk and Disorderly. We asked our readers to submit the names of other antique venues with creative and out-of-the-ordinary names. AAAA member, Rick Cook, spades. While camping in Georgia during the entire month of June 2019, his wife and he visited numerous antique shops in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The one with the most awesome name was Route 276 Cool Crap, located at 1215 Poinsett Highway, Greenville, SC 29609. The website is and the phone number is 864-546-0394.

Thanks, Rick! Are there other awesomely named antique venues out there? Let us know by clicking here!
Wanted Items
In this column are those sought-after items of desire that seem to be elusive. If you know where any of these items can be acquired or if you have one available, please click the link to reply directly to the seeker. To place a listing in this column, click here. There is no fee for AAAA members. Up to three listings per member are permitted.

Banjo related advertising wanted Pre-1940s. Long time collector buying banjo company signage, catalogs, billheads, periodicals, minstrel banjo items such as posters, broadsides, sheet music ( pre-1870s ) with illustrated banjo covers, early photographs showing banjo players (pre-1915). My main collecting interest is in 19th century material. To reply, click here.

Wanted top condition: Squirrel Brand Salted Peanuts 10 lb store tin; Convention Hall 1 lb coffee tin (Kansas City tin) yellow and/or green version; Gail and Ax Navy tobacco tin (kidney shaped pail); Sunflower brand 1 lb pry-lid coffee tin (Atchinson, Kansas). To reply, click here.

Antique American Medicine Bottles by M. Knapp... soft cover book with price guide. Printed in 2012. or 781-248-8620 also, see my other want ad for Clarke’s ephemera and bottles.

Looking for 3 Vintage Tins: American Eagle "Oriental Mixture" tobacco (dimensions approx. 6.5" long, 2 3/4" wide, 1.5" tall); 1 Gal. Indian Head Hydraulic Brake Fluid; and Packham´s Caramel Toffee. Any offer is welcome and any condition considered. To reply, click here.

Morton Salt, older items, and also Pacific Coast Borax, especially a crate or box. email or call Peggy Dailey 612-522-9211

Comic Book-Related Advertising Items: Must be from before 1980. To reply, click here.

Clarke’s Vegetable Sherry Wine Bitters, Sharon, MA & Rockland, ME: All sizes, variants, smooth/pontil base. Especially need labeled Clarke’s any size! Also, any Clarke’s ephemera…trade cards, almanacs, newspaper ads, etc. Charlie Martin Jr., 781-248-8620. Email:

George Petty: Advanced collector looking for unique or rare items. Photo’s, store displays and non paper items. NO Esquire pages. Pete Perrault. To reply, click here or call (502) 290-7661.

Ice Cream Advertising: Mr. Ice Cream desires better graphic ice cream advertising including: postcards (Advertising and RPPC), trade cards, letterheads, billheads, booklets, poster stamps, blotters, magic lantern slides, pinbacks, watchfobs, and pocket mirrors. Allan Mellis, 1115 West Montana St. Chicago, Illinois 60614-2220. To reply, click here.

Stock food, poultry food, veterinary advertising wanted. Posters, medicine packages, give-aways. Email or call (256) 520-5211.

Singer Sewhandy Model 20-Green-regular paint, not hammertone. To reply, click here.

National Biscuit Company, Nabisco, Uneeda Biscuit, Uneeda Bakers, Muth Bakery, NBC Bread toys, signage, tins, containers, displays, historical items. Please Email or call (937) 205-2232.

Early Cigarette Rolling Papers: Pre-1940’s - American, Zig Zag, Braunstein Freres, Bambino, and Ottoman papers wanted. To reply, click here.

Antique/Collectible Banking and Financial System "Give-a way" and advertising items. Specifically from Pennsylvania. Alarm devices and such. To reply, click here.

VITAMINS advertising, displays, signs, bottles, and anything related: Hadacol is an example. Most would come from the 1930’s thru the 1970’s. Also anything related to cod-liver oil and WEIGHT-LOSS, REDUCING, ANTI-FAT, and OBESITY ITEMS. To reply, click here.
Early tin signs lithographed by Tuchfarber, Wells and Hope, Worcester Sign Company, Sentenne and Green, etc. I can pay more for good condition, but would be interested in any condition. Don Lurito also in the directory. To reply, click here.
Dwinell-Wright Co. Royal Ground Spice Cardboard Spice Boxes. One side displays horizontally. Approximately 3.75" by 2.25". Any type of spice is OK. To reply, click here.
ENSIGN Perfect and ENSIGN Perfection vertical pocket tobacco tins to enhance my collection. Feel free to contact me at 614-888-4619 or to see if you can help fill the voids.
Edmands Coffee Company, Edmands Tea Company, 1776 Coffee, American Beauty Tea, Japan Tea, Devonshire Tea, (imported by Edmands, Boston/Chicago): Any items such as tins, signs, paper, or anything else related to the Edmands family of companies in Boston is desired. To reply, click here.
The AAAA Checkerboard is a monthly e-newsletter that is made available to all AAAA members at no cost. The mission of the Checkerboard is to increase knowledge about antique and collectible advertising among AAAA members. The Checkerboard also provides news and updates about AAAA. It is produced each month with the exception of the four months per year when the award-winning PastTimes print newsletter is published. Paul Lefkovitz ( serves as the Editor of the AAAA Checkerboard. Copyright 2020, Antique Advertising Association of America