Why the matchsticks?

We often get the question 'Why the matchsticks?'
This journal entry is all about answering that question.

1920s iceman with matchsticks in his hat

People have always carried all sorts of things in their hatbands for decoration, but the matchstick was more of a convenience thing for smokers. 

What you probably didn't know is that in the 1930s matchsticks became a bargaining symbol at job sites for a days pay, showing the foreman that you were willing to work for less than the normal rate. If you showed up with one matchstick in your hat the foreman knew that you would work for $1 less and if you carried two matchsticks it meant $2 less.

When my grandfather passed away, I found a huge collection of both new and old matchboxes from all over the world in his home. The rest of the family just wanted to get rid of them, but I just couldn't do it probably having inherited my grandfathers collectors gene. I took the collection home with me and continued collecting myself.

Matchboxes from my grandfathers collection

Placing matchstick in hat

Years later, when I started making hats, I remembered having seen people with matchsticks in their hats and thought it would be a great way to honour my grandfather, using matchsticks from his collection in the hatband of the hats that I made. At the same time this would give me a great story to tell and I really do enjoy telling a great story.

My wife Cathrine helped me go through the collection to find matchsticks in all the different colours, that way it would always be easy to find a matchstick matching the colours of the hat.

There is a hat maker in California, who has trademarked the hat matchstick in the US and is threatening to sue anyone who has a matchstick in their hat. I won't mention his name as I don't think he is worth a mention. The hat maker who taught him everything he knows, Gregory Westbrook, does however deserve a mention. Gregory sadly passed away last year, but he had made great original hats for over 20 years, taking inspiration from the cowboy lifestyle he had been growing up with. He often put matchsticks in the hats he made to honour his father who always carried matchsticks in his hat for the convenience of it.

I have never claimed to have invented the hat matchstick and I will definitely never go as far as to trademark it. But I will continue to do it until my collection of around 4000 matchboxes are all empty.

Thank you for your time,

Peter Robert Hornskov





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