eBay shows over 25,000 active listings, and over 9,000 listings for completed sales of vintage matchbooks. But why? Very specific factors make an old matchbook cover valuable and desired by collectors. Matchbook cover collecting is a hobby similar to coin or stamp collecting and has been around for decades. You won't become a millionaire selling vintage matchbooks on eBay, but if you learn to keep your eyes open, you can pick up old matchbooks and sell for a decent profit. So, what is a collector looking for?
First of all, condition is very important, as with other collectibles such as stamps, coins, books, or record albums. For matchbooks specifically, collectors desire undamaged covers that have not been struck by a match. Actually, the matches themselves are not really important and the collector usually removes them anyway. If the matches have already been removed from the cover, the item may still have value. Also, if the cover is vintage and very old, it can still be desired by collectors in used condition.
Foreign matchbooks can either be worthless or very valuable. For example, if the language on the cover is in Japanese, Chinese, or Arabic, most collectors who speak English can't read them anyway. Covers from countries outside the USA are often in non-standard sizes and shapes and difficult to display in albums. Some categories of foreign matchbook covers include airlines, girlies, and cigarettes, as well as foreign military.
Obsolete, discontinued, or defunct businesses. Just because a business no longer exists doesn't necessarily make its matchbook collectible. To be of value, the business usually has some type of disaster associated with it, such as the Twin Towers.
The most popular lots of matchbook covers include girlies, old vintage (1920's and 1930's), railroad, Vegas, and NFL covers. Most non-collectors simply list huge lots and let the collectors sort out what is valuable. Find all completed listings of vintage matchbook covers here.