Over the years, a diverse flora of matchbox labels has been created – more than 9,000 export brands have been produced in Sweden. Three Stars, the ‘Mona-Lisa of labels,’ is probably the most famous brand of matches in the world and was registered as early as 1887.
The success of Swedish matches is due to their superior quality. Competitors tried to make their matches look as ‘Swedish’ as possible by plagiarizing the labels.
The most copied version was the original yellow label from the Jönköping match factory with the slogan ‘Tända endast mot lådans plån’ (Strike on box only). With 450 known (!) imitations, this is probably the most plagiarized brand.
In the 1880s, the machines left small marks on the inner trays of Swedish matchboxes. When the machines were replaced at the turn of the century and the marks disappeared, sales suddenly dropped in some countries. The buyers apparently considered the marks a ‘certificate of authenticity’ that the matches actually came from Jönköping...