A Victorian Matchmax: Botanical Cartouches and Magic Numbers

For my design class, I had to create a Victorian-style matchbox. I began by doing some research, and reading Ben Jones’ article Matchbox Cover Design: the evolution of and the influences on the graphical design of Matchboxes. The first matchboxes were simple, but over time, matchbox producers explored branding techniques and the intricate floral designs signature to the Victorian Era. According to the article, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, decorative cartouches were commonly implemented on the labels. I learned that a cartouche is a decorative oblong “frame” often accompanied by scrollwork, and so I used a cartouche in my design. I chose vegetative forms because the “antiquated forms of vegetation and architecture that symbolised the Gothic and Roccoco periods” were popular in this era, as well as a fat-face type. I chose to depict three apples on the side of the box because “…another, curious group of labels were the ‘threes’ labels which used the ancient mythological, theological and philosophical significance of the number three.” Regarding the physical creation of this piece, I used thin cardboard, glue, a nib pen and ink, a white-out pen, and a red pencil crayon.

Match 2

Match 3

Match 1


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