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Lynn Schofield with her collection of 400 match-holders. Match-holders were once used in every home when wood-burning stoves were the primary means of cooking.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Lynn Schofield with her collection of 400 match-holders. Match-holders were once used in every home when wood-burning stoves were the primary means of cooking.

A hobby that's hard to match
400 and counting: Hartselle woman has one of the area's largest match-holder collections

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you are old enough, you may remember the match-holder hanging on your grandparents' kitchen wall.

But if you are not that old and you visit Lynn Schofield's home, you'll surely ask about those little wooden and metal boxes.

"You have to be an old person to know what they are," she quipped.

Schofield, a match-holder collector since 1995, may have more metal and wooden holders than anyone in the area. She estimates that she has 400, but is quick to say she doesn't have enough.

"That's for sure," husband Bob Schofield, replied.

"Let me tell you what happened while we were in Indiana at a yard sale," he continued. "She spotted a match-holder and pushed me out of the way to get to it. It's an obsession."

"It was sitting right there, and I said, 'Look here at what you missed,' " she said.

"She's got it bad, he replied.

"Am I that bad?" she asked.

"You are," he answered.

Match-holders were made to hold wooden matches that were used in the 19th and 20th centuries for a variety of purposes. The kitchen stove and the fireplace or furnace had to be lighted regularly.

One type of match holder was made to hang on the wall, another was designed for a tabletop.

"You needed one, so you didn't have to look for matches," Lynn explained.

Of special interest to collectors are match holders that have advertisements as part of the design.

The De Laval Separation Co. in New York made the most expensive match holder in Schofield's collection. The holder is a smaller version of a cream separator. Schofield paid $60 for it, but estimates its value is about $200.

"It's extremely rare, and I just wanted it," she said.

Schofield has match holders that advertise bread and pastry companies, restaurants and even one with a "hobo" on it. But her favorite is a simple wooden match holder in the shape of a cat's face.

"That's probably similar to what most people in this area had," she said.

Schofield didn't expect to have 400 match holders when she bought her first in 1995.

At the time, the Schofields lived near Hartselle High School. The house had tall ceilings and she needed something to decorate wall space.

"Back then you could buy them fairly cheap, so that's why I started collecting them," she said.

Her family jokes that it took more time to move the match holders than anything else, when the Schofields constructed a new home.

If they move again, she said, it will be worse. Schofield isn't sure how many she has added since the move and she continues to collect.

"I have a limit on what I will pay and that's in my head," she said.

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