Modern Library Advertising Matchbook

One of the advertising media that Modern Library used in the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's, books of matches are perhaps the scarcest ML ephemera in existence. Jay Satterfield, in his "The World's Best Books" - Taste, Culture, and the Modern Library, references an invoice in the Random House Collection at Columbia from the Diamond Match Co. to ML, Inc. dated 17 November 1927; he notes that the matchbooks have the ML trademark over the slogan "Keep A Good Book In Your Pocket".

The following example sold at eBay auction on 29 November 1999 for just short of $100.00. (I dropped out at about $50.00) Note the names of the books on the matches. (Thanks to Warren Barnes & Family who auctioned this piece and gave permission to publish their photos (shown here slightly edited).) Touting "220 of the greatest books of all times," this matchbook was likely created in 1933. Note the reference to Levinson's Book Store at the bottom of the image at the far left, suggesting how these matchbooks were distributed:

 Click here for a higher resolution image of the opened matchbook.

Another example which looked to be in far better condition sold at eBay on 08 June 2000 for $42.00, a third in excellent condition went for $50.00 on 23 February 2002, and an also excellent fourth got $86.00 on 3 August 2006. I didn't bid on any of them. I did put a $9.99 bid on a fifth in near-exellent condition that ended 21 May 2007; it went for $55.80. There's a moral in there somewhere.

ModernLib senior editor Benjamin Clark provided images of this example (essentially unedited). Noting 300 titles with an indirect reference to the Giants at $1.45 each, this matchbook with a black interior was likely created in 1944 or 1945, a decade after the earlier example above: