A match is a short wooden stick impregnated at one end with a substance that ignites easily when subjected to friction. Matches have been made in China since ancient times, but the first in Europe appear to have been produced in France in 1805. An Englishman made the first phosphorus matches in 1833 and in 1836 the first match factory, producing phosphorus matches, opened in the United States. The first so-called ‘safety matches’ were made in Sweden in 1855.
The city of Częstochwa in southern Poland, best known as a centre of ironworking, has a long connection with the manufacture of matches, a factory having been established there in 1840. The match museum is located in a factory built in 1882 by Julian Huch and Karl von Gehling. Originally it consisted of wooden buildings which were destroyed in a fire in 1913. The fire was recorded on film, and a three-minute movie of the event, one of the first made in Poland, can be viewed at the museum. Subsequently the factory was rebuilt and production resumed. The business passed through several different ownerships until 1997 when it came under the management of a joint stock company in which the employees are shareholders. The museum was established as part of the factory in 2002. Visitors can see how matches continue to be manufactured using technology from the 1930s. The factory’s most popular brand is the Black Cat match, but others types are made for such special purposes as barbecues. There are displays of pieces of sculpture made from matches, and collections of match boxes from all over the world.