The Monday Book – The Romance of the Match – Herbert Manchester (The Diamond Match Co. 1926)

Jack’s unusual guest book review – if you want a copy we have one for sale – – –

“How many thousand or hundred thousand years man lived on earth before learning to use fire is unknown.”

How could anyone resist such an opening sentence as that? Well, I certainly couldn’t!

This booklet was published in the era of art deco and Agatha Christie’s introduction of Hercule Poirot. Its amazing cover is a product of those times. Inside one finds a mixture of 1920’s writing style and world-view. This non-fiction book is unashamedly a corporate promotion for the Diamond Match Company, and yet it tells a fascinating story of the use of fire over millennia and the evolvement of the match industry, including many terrible health hazards along the way. It rather surprisingly doesn’t shy away from the economic pressures on the match industry to continue with dangerous chemicals and chemical processes when others were available, despite the toll on the workers.


Once it has covered the history of the use and harnessing of fire and the development of the match, however, it becomes much more of an outright promotion of the company and a panegyric for the founder W. A. Fairburn.

I found this booklet a complete delight, particularly for its amazingly bizarre mixture of history, art deco design, choice of font and the final page, comprised of a series of statements by the founder of the company, Mr. W. A. Fairburn, including what I assure you is a complete sentence –

“Diamond men have for years led the world in the art of match making; today they lead in the science of progressive invention, in the art of efficient production and distribution, in the inestimable virtues of brotherhood, equity and undying good fellowship, and in the courage and energy that knows no failure and acknowledges no defeat.”

Please note the semi-colon and the Oxford comma.

Look What They’re Doing in Portugal!

On Saturday Jack and I got a message from a bookseller in Portugal:

Dear Wendy Welch and dear Jack Beck,
My name is Inês and I’m from Portugal. I stumbled upon your book 2 days ago and I’m already in love with your little bookshop. I’m in the middle of the book and already I have cried and laughed, and had goose bumps… it’s so nice to see that you are doing so well in there! I’m so proud of you and I haven’t met you (yet!!!… ’cause I’m telling you, one day I’ll visit you! I need to see you with my own eyes! hahaha)
I too work at a little bookshop at a little town called Sines, I don’t own the bookshop, but my boss is a dear friend of mine. I’m always trying to come up with ideias to bring new customers here…
Read Wendy’s words has given me strenght and hope! We can do this! And I’m writing this simple message (with my bad english) just to thank you guys, for inspiring people, there, and obviously, like me… all around the world where the book has been sold.
Best wishes and a warm hug, Inês Espada

So of course now we’re in love with Ines, and in short order her boss; another bookseller named Luis, an activist from another town; the bookshop she works in; and her mom became Facebook friends of Jack and me and had liked our store (as we did theirs). But the cool thing, aside from just being happy to meet booksellers from another country, is to find that in Portugal indie bookstores have banded together in ways that really create a supportive community between them. Here’s some additional info Ines sent Sunday:

Luis is a dear friend of mine! he’s a book seller, and a great fighter of our cause. He’s always sharing information about bookstores and he created an event every year at the last sunday of march we have a booksellers meeting where we can discuss all the things that are happening around our book world. And now we have created a diploma to honor the great booksellers we have. With the big online shops selling books, it’s been difficult to us to combat the low prices that they have… It has been a struggle for some little bookstores, many have closed… but we have our motto, something like this: “Isto não fica assim!” The translation must be something like “we can do it” or “this will not end here!”


    I was looking at our blog, the blog we use for the anual meeting, and I really want to show you, but it’s all in portuguese, you can try to read some of the things using google translate, but I’m gonna propose we do an english version. the diploma is called “Livreiros da Esperança” – Booksellers of Hope for booksellers that never stopped believing in books! Just like you! this year the diploma goes to a couple that have a bookstore at Setúbal for more than 40 years. You can see them in the photos at the blog