A First War (Imperial) German matchbox cover; depicting a portrait of Paul von Hindenburg on both sides of the cover; constructed of stamped brass; consisting of three sides, slightly bent to pinch the matchbox, thereby holding it in place; the four side is left open to strike the match on the igniter strip; measuring 60 mm x 39 mm; overall better than very fine condition.
Footnote: Prior to the invention of the safety match, the production of matches was extremely dangerous due to use of white phosphorous in the production process. The modern safety match utilized red phosphorus, but not in the head of the match, but rather on a specially designed striking surface. These matches were deemed true “safety matches” due to the separation of the reactive ingredients between the match head and the striking surface. The head of the match was specially paraffin-impregnated, and would only ignite if struck against the igniting strip on the matchbox. Matches were invaluable to the war, as smoking was a past time amongst soldiers and worked to calm the nerves. As matches were a rare, and valuable commodity, soldiers would plunder the uniforms of fallen enemies for matches. Often, allied soldiers found German matchbox covers that protected the matchboxes from being crushed, broken, and partially from moisture, explaining why the matchboxes found in some of these bringbacks contain matchboxes with english labels.