Plagiarism and forgeries

The successes of Swedish matches were down to the fact that the quality was superior compared to other manufacturers. Competitors tried to get their matches to look as "Swedish" as possible by plagiarising the labels.

By far the most mimicked label was the original yellow label from Jönköpings Tändstickfabrik bearing the motto "Strike against the box only". With its 450 known (!) imitations, this is probably the most plagiarised brand.

Some foreign manufacturers directly deceived purchasers. Suddenly, matches from countries such as Japan and Germany were "Made in Sweden"! Some of them quite simply renamed their factories "Sweden". Of course, consumers were not quite so easy to deceive. They soon learned that some Swedish letters have dots or circles over them, and variants such as "Tanda endast mot ladans plan" (instead of the Swedish "Tända endast mot lådans plån") were only shortlived.

The name "Jönköping" also became so well known that people could easily distinguish it from Jinkiping, Gentkoping, Westkoping and other deliberate or accidental forgeries. And when the forgeries were particularly refined and well done, purchasers soon found new ways of telling the genuine labels from the fakes. 

In the 1880's, Swedish innerboxes bore small marks caused by the machines. When machines were replaced and the pinpricks disappeared at the turn of the century, sales suddenly plummeted in some countries. It turned out that purchasers there had regarded these marks as a "declaration of authenticity" that proved that the matches really did come from Jönköping...