Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/435

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MATCHES.

ference in the number of fires; and, if a certain kind of match is preferred for its convenience, it will not be abandoned because it has an extra element of danger. Fires may result from the overturning of a box by a cat or dog, or by the gnawing of the ends of matches by rats or mice; but these occurrences are exceptional, and rarely happen.

There is said to be only one factory in America where wax-matches are now produced. This has been established within the last few years, is running altogether with French machinery, and is supplying a growing demand. The makers of wax-matches do not come into competition with other manufacturers, but find their custom among those who are attracted especially by the novelty and pleasing appearance of the matches. Their higher cost prevents them from coming into general use, and the fact that there is a monopoly in their manufacture exerts some influence in regard to the price. Great care is taken in the designs for the boxes, and no pains are spared to make them ornamental and attractive. Improvements and new patents are constantly being made in them. The most recent variety has a small hole in the lid which acts as a candlestick. As soon as the match is lighted, the unburned end is inserted in the lid of the box, and an illumination is provided which lasts according to the length of the taper. The usual wax-match gives a fine light, which continues one or two minutes—that is, four or five times as long as wooden matches. This can be increased with their length, and a very respectable impromptu candle may be obtained by the contrivance referred to. Further attractions are provided by arranging the differently-colored heads according to curious and artistic devices. They can be purchased, having a composition resembling the parlor-match, or in the form of safety-matches. All wax-matches must be made so that they will take fire upon slight friction on account of the less resistance afforded by the body of the match; but they are not on this account any more dangerous than the parlor-match. Though sometimes used by smokers, they are not well suited to this purpose, as in lighting a cigar the fatty matter can be detected by the taste.

The Japanese have contributed their stock of curiosities to this department also. They have a variety of paper matches, which burn with a small, scarcely luminous flame, forming, as the combustion advances, a red-hot ball of glowing saline matter. When the match has been partly consumed, a succession of bright sparks shoots out from the head, and gradually a brilliant scintillation is formed similar to that observed in burning a steel spring in oxygen, only much more delicate, the separate sparks branching out in beautiful forms. These matches are composed of carbon, nitre, and sulphur, and there has been no difficulty in imitating them.

Many efforts have been made to construct the heads of matches without phosphorus. There is a match in Germany at the present time in which this result has been reached, but none of the cases dis-