Match, a small stick of combustible material furnished with some very inflammable com-.position, and used for producing fire. It is commonly known in England as the "lucifer match'1 or "lucifer." In 1080, a few years after the discovery of phosphorus, that substance was introduced for this purpose in London by Godfrey llanekwitz, who applied it by rubbing it between folds of brown paper til it took fire; it was then made to ignite a stick, one end of which had been dipped in sulphur, and which may be considered the earliest form of the common match. Another form extensively used was called chemical matches, which were sold in little cases called phosphorus boxes, containing a few matches, at first as high as 15s. a box. They were small sticks of wood dipped first in sulphur, and then in a composition of chlorate of potash, flowers of sulphur, colophony, gum or sugar, and cinnabar for coloring. Accompanying them in the box was a vial containing sulphuric acid, into which the match being dipped, it was instantly ignited by the chemical action induced between the acid and chlorate of potash. The other ingredients were added merely on account of their combustible qualities.
I he primitive Hint, steel, and tinder, however, remained in common use till the invention of the lucifer match in 1829, by Mr. John Walker, chemist, at Stockton-upon-Tees. In his experiments upon chlorate of potash, he found that this could be instantly ignited by friction, as in rapidly drawing a stick coated with it and phosphorus by means of mucilage or glue through folded sand-paper. Mr. Walker manufactured but few of these matches for use in his neighborhood. Faraday, learning of them, procured some, and brought them into public notice. Their useful properties were soon perceived, and their manufacture rapidly increased, till it became an important branch of industry in Europe and the United States. - The best wood for matches is clear white pine, which possesses the softness required for the manufacturing process, together with the. necessary stiffness and inflammability; and the quantity of this consumed in their manufacture is enormous. The wood is first sawed into blocks of uniform size, and the length of two matches. By machines of ingenious construction, these are afterward slit without loss of material into splints. They are then dipped in melted sulphur, and afterward in phosphorus composition.
Round matches are formed by forcing the wood endwise through holes in plates, which in the English works are an inch thick, with steel face and bell-metal back. In American establishments tubes are employed whether for round or square splints. The perforations are made as near together as possible, only leaving enough of the metal between to give the necessary strength for cutting. This invention was patented in England by Reuben Partridge in 1842. - Matches are now often made without sulphur, paraffine oil being employed for saturating the wood. According to Bott-ger, the best composition for matches consists of phosphorus 4 parts, nitre 10, fine glue 0, red ochre 5, and smalt 2 parts. "Safety lucifer matches " are made, in which a part of the combustibles, as the phosphorus, are placed upon one surface, as a piece of sand-paper, while the other part, containing chlorate or nitrate of potash, is placed on the tip of the match. Neither match nor sand-paper singly will take fire from friction except when rubbed against each other. To prevent matches from smouldering, the wood is sometimes soaked in a solution of alum, borax, Glauber salts, or Epsom salts. - Nearly all the operations of match making, formerly conducted by hand, are now accomplished by machinery.
In largo establishments four machines are used for cutting, dipping, and delivering the matches. Two-inch pine plank is sawed up the length of the match, which is 2 1/2 in. These go into the machine for cutting, where at every stroke 12 matches are cut and by the succeeding stroke pushed into skats arranged on a double chain, 250 ft. long, which carries them to the sulphur vat, and thence to the phosphorus vat, and thus across the room and back, returning them at a point in front of the cutting machine, where they are delivered in their natural order. They are gathered up by a boy into trays, and sent to the packing room. In this manner 1,000 gross or 144,000 small boxes of matches are made in a day. No correct statistics of match making can be given, but it has been estimated that six matches a day for each individual of the population of Europe and North America is the average consumption. From these figures it is easy to see that the business is enormous. - The acid fumes thrown off from phosphorus in the various processes of making matches frequently cause among the people employed a terrible disease which attacks the teeth and jaws; and to such an alarming extent did it prevail in Germany, that the attention of the government was called to it.
The dippers are most liable to suffer in this way, in consequence of standing for hours over the heated slab upon which the phosphorus is spread. As persons with decayed teeth are most susceptible to the disease, they are carefully excluded from some manufactories. No antidote has yet been discovered to this disease. Its natural course is to rot the entire jaw bone away. (See Phosphorus.) - Insignificant as matches are, it is important, on account of the immense numbers made, that the manufactories should be in districts where timber is cheap. Some of the splints are exported to the West Indies and South America. The matches themselves are largely exported to the East and West Indies, Australia, China, Mexico, South America, etc.