Found in the Cupboard: Hungarian Matchbook Covers

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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.

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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