Data + Design Project

Found in the Cupboard: Hungarian Matchbook Covers

Thursday 03.14.2013 , Posted by
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Sometimes, hidden in long forgotten cupboards, there are treasures to be found. That was the experience for London based designer Kristian Bodnar, who discovered a small leather bound book full of vintage Hungarian matchbox covers tucked away in his grandmother’s house. The approximately 300 tiny images were meticulously collected by Bodnar’s father, Zoltan Bodnar, in his childhood. At the time, the images were glued to matchbox covers and could be soaked off by children to enjoy. You can imagine, for a designer, it was like finding pure gold.

See Also Russian Matchbox Covers Celebrate Fall Colors

Bodnar is creating an archive of his find, beautifully arrayed by topic and print series on his website Hungarian Matchbook Archive. The small, gorgeous prints cover a variety of themes that would fascinate young collectors of the past: wild animals of the forest like bears and boar; fast scooters ridden by happy couples; modern hobbies like model airplane flying and scuba diving. One series even features the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, where Cassius Clay, (later known as Muhammad Ali) won boxing’s light-heavyweight gold medal.

All of the prints are produced in one to three color prints, often with the endearing printing errors modern designers are so keen to emulate. As far as inspiration, it’s hard to top this growing collection. Over the next year or so, Bodnar plans to upload the remaining images to the archive. See the current display at matchboxarchive.info.

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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