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‘Matchbox Twenty?’ More like ‘Matchbox 250,000’

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchbooks, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchbooks. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a matchbook industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchbooks, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchbooks. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a matchbook industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy

  • Steve Weiner of Jaffrey has amassed a large collection of matchcovers, a collection that could well be large than 250,000 individual matchcovers. Weiner has been collecting for over 20 years and hopes to one day open a match industry museum in Jaffrey. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Nicholas Handy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 11:23AM

Steve Weiner was sitting at the dining room table in his Jaffrey home when he heard a vehicle pull up the driveway. A surprise package, delivered from a friend in Florida, had shown up at his front door.

Weiner’s brought the box to the table and ripped through the tape on the top of the box – much like a child opening a Christmas present. Weiner let out a hearty laugh upon seeing the box’s contents: about 2,000 lipstick box-style matchcovers to add to his collection. 

“This is what I’m saying… this is what the hobby is about,” said Weiner, grinning from ear to ear. “This is what I was talking about, the hobby itself and the way people are. It just gets me excited.”

Weiner has been collecting matchcovers for nearly 25 years and has amassed a “fairly large” collection – at least a quarter million – many of which are tucked neatly into binders in his basement hobby room. 

“It’s the artwork of old… stuff you will never see today,” said Weiner. “It’s the history of the cover. It’s amazing to see. These are things you just don’t see.”

A small portion of Weiner’s collection will be on display at the Jaffrey Civic Center from Feb. 16 to March 16 in the first floor display case gallery. There will be an opening reception on Feb. 23 starting at 5 p.m. Most matchcovers on display at the exhibit will be specific to the Monadnock region. 

Origins

Weiner’s collecting days began long before his interest in matchcovers was ignited, as he previously accumulated a number mini whiskey bottles and other trinkets in his travels. 

The Brooklyn native and his wife Pat had long grabbed matchbooks when they were out and about – throwing them into a jar at home – but he never really thought of them as a collectable until he went to a New Jersey flea market in the early 90s.

It was there that Weiner bought his first box of matchcovers.

“I said there’s got to be a lot more to these covers,” said Weiner, who did some research after purchasing the box and found out more about the hobby. “I found out there was a whole world: organizations, clubs, conventions. I got to meet people and go to auctions to buy stuff… it just snowballed.”

After purchasing the box, Weiner would end up at a club meeting in New Jersey where he first met a number of collectors who showed him the ropes. 

“The true collectors are very generous people,” said Pat, who began her collecting days around 1998 when she started seeking out covers with chef hats on them, an homage to her daughter going to culinary school.

The collection

Steve’s earliest collections include lobsters, beers, and liquor stores – the later two a natural extension given his whiskey bottle collection – but has now grown to dozens, if not hundreds of different categories.

“It’s artwork that you will never see elsewhere,” said Weiner, who retired to Jaffrey with Pat in 2006. “it’s the beer covers that really attracted me [to the hobby].”

Every matchcover Weiner acquires is eventually filed away in a binder in his basement hobby room. In addition to having over 100 binders full of various styles and themes or matchcovers, Weiner has boxes upon boxes of various matchcovers that he has yet to go through. 

“I would say I spend three to four hours a day down there, at least,” said Weiner, who said he spends time in his hobby room every day he is home. 

Weiner said he spends much of his time filing covers, reorganizing his collection, and cleaning up his desk – which has recently become “helter-skelter” in the wake of preparing his Civic Center displays. Weiner said he walso spends time compiling covers for two people that he actively trades with. 

Seeing his collection in person is certainly a daunting endeavor – boxes upon boxes of unfiled matchcovers sit in front of multiple shelves of binders – but Weiner effortlessly navigates through the organized chaos of the room and is able to find or file a cover in a matter of minutes. 

It is near impossible for Weiner to whitle his collection down to a favorite category or cover, but he does admit to enjoying his collection of pig-emblazoned covers. 

“I love my pig album, don’t ask me why,” said Weiner. “They are just cute little covers.”

Weiner said his collection is even expanding, as he often goes to auctions, conventions, through dealers and friends, and online. He is currently working to fill the gaps in previous collections and is expanding into collecting Route 66 and Lincoln Highway-themed covers. 

“People used to ask me what Steve collects and I was able to tell them,” said Pat. “Now I have to say everything… except banks and funeral homes and a few other things.”

Sharing the craft

Matchcover collecting may be Weiner’s biggest passion, but his enthusiasm for the hobby could one day translate into something much larger: Weiner is currently working to open a match industry museum in Jaffrey.

If Weiner is successful, the museum could be the only one of its kind in the world. 

“Collections are just being lost, thrown away and scarfed up,” said Weiner. “That’s the whole purpose of the museum and what we are trying to stress: [the industry’s] impact on society, how much it played into the political spectrum, and how much it played into the artwork.”

Steve and Pat have been working with an advisory committee over the past year-plus – comprised of Jaffrey’s Planning & Economic Development Director Jo Anne Carr, TEAM Jaffrey Executive Director Stephanie Niemela, Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Max Mitchell, D. D. Bean Director Mark Bean, and Rob Stephenson of the Jaffrey Historical Society. A consultant is also working on the project, according to Weiner. 

A feasibility study to determine if a such a museum could draw an audience to Jaffrey will soon be underway.

Weiner said he already has a commitment from other collectors, who have said they would be willing to help fill the museum with matchcovers and other related items. Weiner said he would be donating and/or lending some of his collection to the museum. 

The museum, at least to start, could be housed in some space provided by D. D. Bean if the concept gets off the ground. 

Pat said the concept of the museum is about much more than preserving the history of the hobby and industry, the Weiners also have a goal drawing up interest to the next generation of matchbook collectors. 

“People don’t know about the collectors, so we are trying to publicize that,” said Pat, who said a combination of older collectors dying off, newer people not getting into the hobby, and matchcovers becoming harder to find have all taken a toll on the hobby. “We hope people stop throwing [matchcovers] out, because they can’t be replaced.”

“I think it’s important to keep the flame burning,” added Steve. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.