Historic Tools of North Castle

Self-Closing Match Box

This item at Smith’s Tavern is a self-closing matchbox donated by L.J. Mains, Sr.  It was made entirely of metal that may have originally been a whitish color. On the long-hinged lid is partially legible writing “Self Closing” and “For Matches & C” and “Patented Dec 20, 1864” and “D.M & Co New Haven”.  The inside of the box is lined, maybe with black paper or felt. The bottom of the box is a ribbed patterned strike plate. The device was invented by William H. Andrews assignor to Burton Mallory of New Haven, CT (patent # 45,554).


This item is a Civil War-era barracks match safe holder.  Barracks were generally heated by wood stoves and matchboxes were nailed or screwed into barrack walls.  Since it was attached to a wall, the lid could not stay open - gravity, its weight and the small projection on it would make it automatically close.


Reference:  Matchbox Patent Record and http://www.virtualvermont.com/store/Antique-1864-Civil-War-Barracks-Cast-Iron-Self-closing-Match-Box-Safe-Holder_163274123684.html

Catalog Items:

Item None

Location:Left Shelf - Bottom
Length: 8 cm
Width: 6 cm
Height: 4 cm
Weight: 217 g