Sunday, August 3, 2003

Matches were childhood flame for Kentucky man

Prize possessions

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Wally Mains has more than 30,000 matchbooks.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
Who: Wallace "Wally" Mains, 50, a radiation therapist at St. Luke Hospital East.

What: His collection of more than 30,000 matchbooks and 10,000 matchboxes.

Where: Compiled in a series of binders and kept in the Florence home he shares with wife Pat and their cat, Kelly.

Light my fire: Mains' interest in matches began when he was a child. "Every time somebody would go somewhere," he recalls, "I would ask them to bring me back matches. I kept them in jars and cookie tins and finally thought, 'I have to figure out how to arrange these.' "

Burning desires: He began collecting seriously in 1988 when he joined the Tri-State Cardinal Matchcover Club, a group of philluminists (lovers of the light) that meets every other month.

Match made in heaven: Mains collects all types, but particularly likes "American Ace" box matches by Universal Match Corp. " 'American Ace' is their term for the style of box," he explains. "They are small ones, maybe 1 1/2-2 inches long and an inch wide.

"They have been making that particular match since the mid to late '70s. They have made nearly 12,000 and I have 10,000 of them."

Carrying a torch: He also has a fondness for "Big Boy" restaurant matches. "Here we have Frisch's," he says, "but around the country there are probably 40 different franchises. They all have the Big Boy character on them and it is fun to see how he has evolved over the years."

Find out more about this hobby: Nearly 300 matchbook and matchbox collectors from all over the country will get together Aug. 10-17 at Holiday Inn Eastgate, 4501 Eastgate Blvd., to celebrate the 63rd annual gathering of the Rathkamp Matchcover Society (Web site) .

For more information, call Mains at (859) 525-0588.

Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202: e-mail: Please include a daytime, weekday phone number.

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