YZ bird matchstriker

Contributed by Ian Holdsworth

YZ bird matchstriker

A YZ bird matchstriker in the shape of a pelican made from cast phenolic resin and ebony, by Henry Howell & Co. about 1926. Holes in the top of the head are designed to take matches which are struck on the circular shagreen striker pad on the side of the body. A craftsman made decadent product, indicative of the frivolity that may be found in some product design in the post war art deco period, and an iconographic example of the YZ product range. Although a manufactured item the object retains an individuality of character that can only really be achieved by a unique craft input in what was then a new and exotic material.

The object speaks of a time of smoking cigarettes, of fun, of partying and of relief of a war over. It is decorative and tactile and new, yet vaguely reminicent of a heiroglyph, so suitably art deco. It performs in an expensive way exactly the same function as a cheap matchbox but this only adds to its desirability. Its form, materials and use define its time.

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Islington, north London.


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