Who Made the First Match?

In 1780, a group of French chemists discovered how to combine chemicals to produce fire. Their matches worked well, but the burning of one chemical, phosphorus, was found to be poisonous.

A safe striking match was developed by John Walker, an English pharmacist, in 1827. He accidentally scraped the end of a stick he was using on the stone floor to remove a blob of chemical from it, and it burst into flame.

Walker made his first matches with cardboard. Later he paid schoolboys and people from a poorhouse to cut flat wooden splints by hand for his matches. He packaged the matches in a tin tube with a strip of sandpaper for striking, and sold them to friends and townspeople.

Rats and mice can set off matches by chewing at the striking heads!