Bryant & May ‘Brymay’ safety matches, London, England, 1890-1940

Made:
1890-1940 in London
maker:
Bryant and May Limited
From the top, 1st and 3rd box - A655224, Two chipboard matchboxes containing "Flaming Fusee" Vesuvian matches for cigar Cardboard and chipboard safety matchbox, Brymay' trademark, made by Bryant and May, 1920-1960'

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From the top, 1st and 3rd box - A655224, Two chipboard matchboxes containing "Flaming Fusee" Vesuvian matches for cigar
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Cardboard and chipboard safety matchbox, Brymay' trademark, made by Bryant and May, 1920-1960'
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Cardboard and chipboard safety matchbox, "Brymay" trademark, made by Bryant and May, 1920-1960

Match-making was a particularly dangerous job in the 1800s. Workers – mainly women – employed by companies such as Bryant & May to make matches commonly experienced a condition known as phossy jaw. This was caused by poisoning from the yellow phosphorous used in the head of the match.

Phossy jaw was a terribly disfiguring and sometimes fatal condition. Eventually, a combination of this health danger, poor pay and long hours led to the formation of a trade union for the workers. The Match Girls Strike of 1888, led by social activist Annie Besant (1847-1933), was a landmark industrial action and led to better pay. In 1901, Bryant & May finally stopped using yellow phosphorous in their matches.

Details

Category:
Smoking
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A655257
Materials:
wood, cardboard, base of inner container and wood, chipboard
type:
match box
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • storage box