Posts Tagged ‘vintage matchbooks’

Holiday matchbooks from 1930s midtown cafes

December 8, 2012

What better way to let customers know your restaurant honored the Christmas season than by advertising it on a matchbook? These long-gone Manhattan eateries apparently agreed.

If you worked in the vicinity of Lexington Avenue and 41st Street at any point from the 1930s through the 1960s, you may have spent your lunch hour at the no-frills-named President Cafeteria and Tavern.


“Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner and open until 1a.m., the cafeteria advertised self-service hot meals ‘at reasonable prices’ in a relaxed, casual environment,” writes The Five O’Clock Teaspoon, a fascinating culinary history site.

“The self-proclaimed largest restaurant in the Grand Central Zone, The President was a reliable staple of the Murray Hill neighborhood and was a regular haunt of soon to be luminaries such as the writer Charles Reznikoff and the aspiring actress Susan Hayward.”


Rutley’s matchbook looks festive—but the restaurant sounds a little cut-rate. Opened in 1926, it closed in 1932, an apparent casualty of the Depression and Prohibition. Another Rutley’s, however, existed in the 1940s on Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street.

Vintage matchbook ads for Brooklyn businesses

July 9, 2012

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?