An unusual exhibition has opened in the geological office of Omsk State Pedagogical University. More than 150 matchboxes from all over the world became its exhibits. The collection of matches was gathered by geographer, member of the Omsk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society, Associate Professor at the Department of Geography and Methods of Teaching Geography of OSPU Petr Bolshanik.
Petr Bolshanik started collecting matches in 1979. There are many unusual matchboxes in his collection. For example, at the exhibition you can see long-burning matches, hunting matches, paraffin-soaked triangular matches, a leather matchbox from Egypt with the image of Nefertiti, a ceramic matchbox from Tunisia, and a matchbox with excise stamps from Italy.
"Matches are directly related to geography and the countries in which they are made. For example, Cuba produces sugar, and matches in this country are also made from sugar cane, because there is almost no wood there. There is sawdust and lard in Ukraine, and local matches are made from them," says Petr Bolshanik.
The most expensive matches in the geographer's author's collection were produced in Harbin in 1898. The city of Harbin in northern Manchuria was founded by Russians in 1898 as the central station of the Chinese-Eastern Railway. After the Civil War, Harbin became the unofficial capital of the White Guard emigration in East Asia. The Chinese even called it "Eastern Moscow".
"After the revolution, Russian residents remained in Harbin on the Chinese-Eastern Railway. And in 1935, railway workers were allowed to return to Soviet Russia. They were settled in Siberia, including Omsk. Railway workers repaired the Omsk Drama Theater. One of them brought matches from Harbin, used them up, and dropped the matchbox inside the wall of the drama theater. When the theater was overhauled again, they found this box and brought it to me, since in Omsk all my students know that I collect matches," says Petr Bolshanik.
We should add that part of Petr Bolshanik's personal collection of matches can also be seen at the Museum of Nature and Man in Khanty-Mansiysk.