Faked Coca-Cola MatchsafeBy Mark Chervenka
Faked Coca-Cola Matchsafe
The metal matchsafe with a Coca-Cola advertisement below is a very carefully made forgery. Original Coca-Cola match safes of this same style with similar images sell for $600+.
How was this piece made? First, the forger obtained a genuinely old match-safe. This style of matchsafe dates from ca. 1900 to World War I. It is hinged along the top edge and is a transitional style suitable for either wood stick matches or early book matches.
This style frequently carried advertising for merchants or products in a raised metal frame on the lid The metal frame is attached by four clips easily accessible from the back side of the lid (see photo below). With advertising from local merchants or little known products, this style of matchsafe usually sells for no more than $15-$50 maximum.
Once an old inexpensive matchsafe was obtained, the forger than copied a well known color image used by the Coca-Cola company. This particular image is "Gibson Girl" and was used by Coca-Cola ca. 1909. After the image was reduced to the proper size, it was inserted into the metal frame by simply unbending the metal clips. Three similar faked matchsafes but with different images are shown in Alan Petretti's Coca-Cola Price Guide 8th edition page 388. Petretti notes that these fakes first appeared in the 1970s.
There are two ways to detect the fakes. First, ALL ORIGINALS have some version of the Coca-Cola trademark embossed in the metal of the back of the matchsafe, usually "Drink Coca-Cola in Bottles."
Second, new images are formed of tiny colored dots in a fixed patterns. Original images were lithographed and made up of irregular patches and blocks of solid colors. Most new images are photocopied from books or edited and printed on home computers.
Thanks to George Sparacio for his loan of the faked matchsafe and for background information.