In a time when most people reach for fluid-based or electric lighters, there’s something about the classic match striker that just doesn’t get old. Not only can these match holders add a decorative touch to a coffee table or mantle, but they also provide the same function as traditional paper matches or even better—they’re easy to refill and are always at hand when it comes time to light a fire.
Vintage match holders come in a wide variety of shapes and styles, with some designed to stand alone and others intended to be placed into a matchbox or other vessel. Some are made of metal, including cast iron and wrought iron, while others are crafted from ceramics, porcelain, concrete, English sterling silver, or other materials. Most are shaped to look like a traditional matchbox, with a textured surface for striking a match. The striking surface creates friction to ignite the match, and the top of the container holds new matches and ashes.
Some of these match holders are designed to have a more industrial aesthetic, such as the pair of brass match strikers from Los Angeles-based Anyon Atelier. The match strikes are shaped like the matching plates mounted inside railway cars and have an organic pitted surface that offers some friction to light a match quickly. The matches are stored in the base, which also doubles as a tray. The two items stack together into an eye-catching composition when not in use and work with both standard safety matches and strike anywhere matches.
Another option is the rounded and minimalist match striker from Brooklyn-based Areaware, which is reminiscent of a pebble from a beach or river. The solid cast iron object has a heavy feel that provides good stability when struck with a match and works well for striking both safety matches and strike anywhere matches. It has a large compartment for new matches and a small one that holds used ones, and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth to remove residue from use.
Those who prefer a more decorative piece can opt for this match holder that looks like an old Kodak film canister and is made in the USA from solid aluminum. It’s lightweight and sturdy, but still a little bit delicate to hold in your hand. It also works with both strike anywhere and regular safety matches, and is a great pick for anyone who appreciates contemporary design.
For those looking for a more traditional vintage match striker, this wheel-thrown stoneware piece from Vermont’s Farmhouse Pottery is both functional and gorgeous. The rounded shape has a dual chamber for holding new and used matches, while the striking surface resembles the ridged pattern of a mountain. It’s glazed in a soft white color that would complement any aesthetic, and it works with both strike anywhere matches and traditional safety matches. This match holder also makes a thoughtful gift for someone who collects vintage smoking paraphernalia.