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New Haven Railroad Matchbooks

April 1st, 1999

The New Haven Railroad operated large numbers of intercity passenger trains right up through the end of its corporate existence effective January 1st, 1969. All long distance passenger trains on the New Haven carried food service cars, sleeping cars, parlor cars, or other types of cars equipped with smoking lounge facilities, and the railroad always stocked these cars with supplies of free matches. The first matches distributed on New Haven trains came packed in small wooden matchboxes with paper labels printed with the 'New York, New Haven, and Hartford' script monogram. In later years, perhaps during the 1920s or 1930s, the railroad replaced wooden matches with paper matches packed in cardstock matchbooks which were custom printed with a variety of designs on their covers. These matchbooks not only provided a useful service to smoking passengers at a cost as low as $5.00 per case of 2,500 but when pocketed and brought home or to the office also served to promote the railroad. Here is a small selection of New Haven Railroad matchbooks which were used between the 1920s and 1960s. Advertising materials from the collection of Marc Frattasio. If you are aware of any other New Haven Railroad matchbox or matchbook designs, please let us know.

Outside 1920s MatchbookInside 1920s MatchbookThis early matchbook was used on dining cars before the early 1930s. This is probably one of the first cardstock matchbooks used on the New Haven. The matchbook's early date of manufacture is suggested by the old style script monogram and by the patent numbers printed on the cover. Since the first matchbook was patented in 1896 this example may be as old as the turn of the century!

Outside 1930s and 1940s Regular Train MatchbookTenderay Beef Advertisement
This matchbook was used on dining and grille cars on standard intercity passenger trains during the late 1930s and 1940s. The cover artwork duplicates the design used on china purchased for use on the New Haven's pre-war lightweight grille cars. Note the beef advertisement on the inside cover.

Outside 1930s and 1940s Merchants MatchbookTenderay Beef Ad
Look very carefully because this matchbook is not exactly the same as the previous example. It was marked for distribution on the Merchant's Limited. The Merchant's Limited and the Yankee Clipper were the New Haven Railroad's premier passenger trains operating between Boston and New York City.

1940s Matchbook 11940s Matchbook 2This matchbook design was used on standard intercity passenger trains during the 1940s. The compressed style of script monogram was commonly used on menus and other food service or lounge car related paper items during the 1940s. 'The Shoreline Route' slogan originated in the 19th century when many competing railroads operated trains between Boston and New York!

Once again, take a very close look at this matchbook cover because it is not exactly the same as the one shown above. This matchbook was specially marked for distribution on the Merchant's Limited.1940s Merchants Matchbook 11940s Merchants Matchbook 2

1946 Matchbook 11946 Matchbook 2This matchbook was used during the mid to late 1940s. Note the back to back Alco DL-109 locomotives and 'Key to New England' artwork. The railroad actually had pins made in this shape during 1946 to promote the Pilgrim Tours package planned tours of New England and the east coast.

This matchbook was used during the late 1940s and early 1950s to promote freight and passenger service. Alco FA freight diesels are on the front, a Pilgrim Tour 'Key to New England' is on the back, and an advertising slogan is inside.Late 1940s Matchbook 1Late 1940s Matchbook 2Late 1940s Matchbook Inside Cover

Early to Mid 1950s Matchbook 1Early to mid 1950s Matchbook 2This matchbook was used during the early to mid 1950s. The artwork depicts a pair of FM 'C-Liner' locomotives hauling a passenger train along the southern New England coast. A photograph showing a similar FM hauled passenger train was printed on the cover of at least one New Haven Railroad dining car menu during the early 1950s.

This design was used from 1955 to the Penn Central merger on January 1st, 1969. The graphics were designed by Herbert Matter. The green matchbook was less common than the red version.1955 Matchbook Cover1955 Matchbook Cover1955 Matchbook Inside

Dan'l Webster Matchbook 1Dan'l Webster Matchbook 2Dan'l Webster Matchbook Inside Cover

This matchbook was distributed during late 1956 to promote the impending arrival of the Pullman Standard/Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Train X Dan'l Webster. The Dan'l Webster and similar John Quincy Adams Talgo train went into service on the New Haven during the spring of 1957. Both trains proved troublesome and were withdrawn from service by the end of 1958.


March 1999: Pilgrim Tours

February 1999: Special Trains of the 1950s and 1960s

January 1999: Ticket Envelopes

December 1998: Holiday Advertising Material

November 1998: New York City Travel Advertising Material

October 1998: Boston Travel Advertising Material

September 1998: The Hurricane of 1938 -- 60th Anniversary

July 1998: The New Haven Goes Back to Cape Cod

June 1998: The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair

May 1998: Official Gifts of the McGinnis Era

April 1998: System Timetables

March 1998: Pre-War Advertising Brochures

February 1998: New Haven Railroad Freight Service Advertising from the 1950s and 1960s

January 1998: The Snow Trains

December 1997: Hotel Montclair Advertisement ca. 1939

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