At the recent Valley Forge baseball card show, I added nine different matchbooks to my collection, not exactly knowing what I was adding. The matchbooks seemed extremely reasonably priced, and I hadn't seen anything like this before, so I was intrigued. I went through the dealer's box labeled "1930s Matchbooks" and pulled out every Phillie I could find. (As an aside, it was during my search that I finally met fellow collector Steve F. and his son Sam.)
It turns out the matchbooks I bought come from two different sets - a 200-matchbook set called the 1934 Diamond Matchbook - Silver Border set and a smaller 24-matchbook set called the 1935 Diamond Matchbook - Black Border set. I found this listing in the Standard Catalog of Vintage Baseball Cards, and I thought I'd list the description of the set verbatim here:
During much of the Great Depression, the hobby of matchbook collecting swept the country. Generally selling at two for a penny, the matchbooks began to feature photos and artwork to attract buyers. In the late 1930s, several series of sports subjects were issued by Diamond Match Co. of New York City. The first issue was a set of 200 baseball players known to collectors as "silver border" for the color of the photo frame on the approximately 1 1/2" x 4 1/8" (open) matchbooks.
Player portrait or posed photos are printed in sepia on front, and can be found bordered in either red, green, blue or orange (although it is unclear whether all players can actually be found in the red version), theoretically creating an 800-piece color variation set. The player's name and team are printed on the "saddle" and there is a career summary on back, along with a design of glove, ball and bats. Matchbooks are commonly collected with the matches removed and the striker at the back-bottom intact. Pieces without the striker are valued at 50 percent of these listed prices.Given that last part, my matchbooks would be valued less than those with the striker intact, but I'm still happy to have them in my collection. It looks as if there are 11 Phillies matchbooks in the set, so I'm missing four of them for a complete team set.
From the 1935 Diamond Matchbooks set, I added the two shown here and I need two more to complete the team set. Chuck Klein is shown wearing a Cubs uniform, and the online databases I checked list this as a Cubs card. However, I'm classifying it as a Phillies card given that's the team listed.