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Press Release

"Past and Present of the Match Box --Selection of Lu Kun-Chi Collection" American Cultural Center May 1 - July 15, 1998

PR9818E | Date: 1998-04-29

The American Cultural Center will showcase "Past and Present of the Match Box -- Selection of Lu Kun-chi Collection," a small-scale craft exhibition, from May 1 - July 15, 1998.

The American Cultural Center is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon until 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays. It will be closed on Sundays and for holidays on May 2, 9, 16, 23, 25, 30, June 13 and July 4. The American Cultural Center is located at 54 Nan Hai Road, Taipei.

Included in this exhibition are about 300 match boxes in various sizes and shapes from around the world. Lu, whose father worked at the Taiwan Match Box Company, began collecting match boxes when he was an elementary school student. In the last 30 years, he has built up a collection of more than 2,000 match boxes.

Match boxes originated in France in 1805. Later the "scraper" match box was invented in England and refined in Sweden. However, the unsafe matches of the day were not improved until 1855, and use of matches became more popular. The Chinese began using matches in the Ching Dynasty, when British envoys presented some to Emperor Dao-kung. The Chinese called the matches "foreign fire."

Because match boxes are made of paper, they are fragile and hard to preserve. However, Lu has developed a technique to apply a layer of protective resin on the surface of the boxes to keep them intact over time.

Most of the items in Lu's collection are advertising match boxes from Taiwan. The boxes offer a history lesson reflecting changes in Taiwan society, politics and economics, as well as the ups and downs of different vocations. The telephone numbers printed on the boxes go from two digits over time up to seven, representing Taiwan's growth.

Lu collects match boxes produced by different companies, regardless of design or and shape, because he sees them all as small commentaries on society. His favorites are sets of match boxes with specific subjects. Though the production of match boxes is declining, Lu's interest continues not only because of his own collection, but also in memory of his father.