Vintage matchbook ads for Brooklyn businesses

The one downside to the fact that so few people smoke these days? So few businesses hand out free matches as advertising vehicles.

But for most of the 20th century, matchbook ads were a popular way to get a company name and service out there—as these now-defunct Brooklyn businesses did in the 1940s.

Loeser’s was a legendary department store on Fulton Street, Brooklyn’s main shopping strip since the late 19th century. It closed in 1952.

I love this public service ad from Brooklyn Edison—now part of Con Edison, of course—for electric stoves. Cooking “electrically” probably did cut down on kitchen fires.

The Hotel Half Moon was built in 1927 to rival the fancy new hotels going up in Atlantic City. Instead, it hosted conventions, became a maternity hospital in the 1940s, and was torn down in the 1990s to make way for a senior citizen housing.

In 1941, the Half Moon earned a place in mob history: Murder, Inc. turncoat Abe “Kid Twist” Reles plunged to his death from his sixth floor room there under mysterious circumstances.

Mayflower 9-3800! But why was Coney Island’s phone exchange called Mayflower?

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5 Responses to “Vintage matchbook ads for Brooklyn businesses”

  1. Lady G. Says:

    Those are really cool. I like the Mayflower matchbook. Companies should think about giving away new kinds of freebies, once they did away with matchbooks, they got cheap. lol. All I can think of is the Mayflower moving company on Coney Island, but that’s a Nationwide chain I think and probably has nothing to do with the phone code of 1941.

    AHA, here’s something, the Mayflower decision of 1941 by the FCC. It was a broadcasting company.,9171,800314,00.html

    But then again, I don’t know if that had anything to do with phones either. That was a radio broadcaster fairness doctrine of some sort.

    I really like this blog, it always entices me to research historical stuff I didn’t know about. 😀

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks! My father grew up in Brighton Beach, so I’m hoping he can remember why Coney had the Mayflower exchange name.

  3. Jeremey-Stuart de Fishberg Says:

    There was also a COney Island 6- exchange. MAyflower 9- did not live through the fifties.

  4. Bob_in_MA Says:

    I think the names in phone numbers were usually just mnemonic devices. I still remember our exchange from 45 years ago, EMerson -6. Emerson had no meaning beyond E being on key 3 and M on 6.

  5. Paul N. Bassett Says:

    Could someone please pronounce that dept. store name for me?
    What was their slogan? – You can’t beat Loesers…o, wait…

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