The Norwegian match industry's growth depended upon the economic cycle of the economy, and this varied significantly over the 1800's. The 1840's featured strong economic growth and this lasted into the 1850's. This was largely due to the Crimean war. Many match stick factories started up in this period, most of these being small undertakings. In 1857 the economy suffered a setback. This was largely due to the decline of the international money markets, and the industry's dependence upon Hamburg's banks and merchants became painfully obvious. At the end of the 1850's many of the small match factories closed down. Match prices were falling, and money was in short supply, but even so a few new factories started. The 1860's brought a noticeable increase in chemical production technology, and the match industry moved towards larger factories. In 1866 there was another international crisis, and some factories failed, although the total number of factory workers increased. The period 1870-1875 saw better times, mainly because of the German-French war of 1870-71. Both borrowing and making money were easy, and enterprise was shown. Another reason for the boom in Norway was better land and sea communication. In four years 14 new factories started, and, in 1875, 18 factories were in operation. This was an unrealistically high number, and even though the demand for matches was increasing the competition that ensued caused many closures in the 1880's. Even though this period featured strong economic growth, the match industry suffered. Many factories closed down and only 2 new factories started in 10 years. From 1880 to 1890 the larger factories underwent rationalisation, and invested in new machinery, to face domestic and world-wide competition. Competition from Japan in the previously Norwegian controlled markets in the East made it particularly important to compete on price, and the advantage moved to the larger, more efficient, factories. At the turn of the century there were only 7 factories left:

  1. Nitedals Tændstikfabrik
  2. Agnæs Tændstikfabrik
  3. Bryn Tændstikfabrik
  4. Halden Tændstikfabrik
  5. Elvbakken Tændstikfabrik
  6. Oddernæs Tændstikfabrik
  7. "Primus" Tændstikfabrik (Veøy in Romsdal)

Of these only the first 4 were of importance.

During the difficult years, when the competition from Japan sapped the morale of the industry, a syndicate was formed in London, "The Match Union". Its aim was to buy up the match industry in several European countries. The syndicate provisionally arranged to buy several factories, but in the end very few were sold.

The development in the 19th century looks like this:

   Before 1850     Match stick makers did not specialise.
   1850            2 specialised factories with 47 workers.
   1855            8 specialised factories with 172 workers.
   1860            5 specialised factories with 100 workers.
   1865            6 specialised factories with 153 workers.
   1870            8 specialised factories with 436 workers.
   1875           18 specialised factories with 1293 workers.
   1880           16 specialised factories with 1087 workers.
   1885           12 specialised factories with 1587 workers.
   1890           10 specialised factories with 1699 workers.
   1895            8 specialised factories with 935 workers.
   1899            7 specialised factories with 728 workers.

Norwegian match factories

(From Olav Wetting, 1968: "Norsk fyrstikkindustri før år 1900") 



F.H. Frølichs Fyrstikfabrik, Nedre Voldgade, Christiania




Sandefjord Tændstikfabrik, Sandefjord




J.T. Hørners Fyrstikfabrik, Skoger




Christiania Fyrstikfabrik, Grønland, Christiania




Biskopshavn Tændstikfabrik, Aarstad, Bergen




Fr. Häusgens Tændstikfabrik, Christiania




C.F. Ritters Tændstikfabrik, Ø. Ager




Sogndal Tændstikfabrik, Sogndal i Sogn




Holmen Fyrstikfabrik, F.H. Frølich, Christiania




C.Z. Amnei Tændstikfabrik, Røros




Hamiltons Tændstikfabrik, Fredrikshald




Bøhmer og Sørensen Tændstikfabrik, Faaberg




Nordhaugens Fyrstikfabrik, Ringsager




Ihlens Tændstikfabrik,Trondhjem




Solhallen Tændstikfabrik, Halsaa pr. Mandal




Nitedals Tændstikfabrik, Nitedalen




Nylands Fyrstikfabrik, Ø. Ager




Holens Tændstikfabrik, Faaberg




H. Jølsens Tændstikfabrik, Enebakk




Hardanger Tændstikfabrik, Valen




Christiania Fyrstikfabrik, Sandager, Christiania




L. Bersaas Tændstikfabrik, Øre i Romsdal




Aarø Tændstikfabrik, Bolsø pr. Molde




Bryn Tændstikfabrik, Ø. Ager




Vendkværn Tændstikfabrik, Vang, Hedemarken




Trondhjems Tændstikfabrik, Strinden




Søndre Undals Tændstikfabrik, S. Undal pr. Mandal




Christiania Tændstikfabrik, Heggedal i Asker




Askelund Tændstikfabrik, Høle i Ryfylke




Christiansand Fyrstikfabrik, Christiansand




Søndhordland Tændstikfabrik, Etne




Fredrikshalds, senere Halden Tændstikfabrik, Berg




Grønvold Tændstikfabrik (Nitedals), Ø. Ager




Rødfos Tændstikfabrik, V. Toten




Jondals Fyrstikfabrik, Jondal i Hardanger




Elvbakkens (senere Molde) Tændstikfabrik, Bolsø




Ilsvaag Tændstikfabrik, Ilsvaag i Ryfylke




Hamar Tændstikfabrik, Vang, senere Hamar




Høvik Fyrstikfabrik, Næset i Romsdal




Agnes Tændstikfabrik, Brunlanæs




Kongsvinger Tændstikfabrik, Vinger




Oddernæs Tændstikfabrik, Oddernæs pr. Christiansand




Høgsfjord Tændstikfabrik, Høle i Ryfylke




Haugefossen Tændstikfabrik, Jondal i Hardanger




Karlsnæs Tændstikfabrik, Høle i Ryfylke




Bergens Tændstikfabrik, Solheimsvigen pr. Bergen




"Primus" Tændstikfabrik, Veø i Romsdal


1) Nitedals Tændstikfabrik, Markerud

1861 : The equipment which was saved from the fire at F.H. Frølick's factory at Tyveholmen was bought by J.L. Sundt and moved to his property at Markerud in Nittedalen. This was an ideal site for industrial development. In the village aspen and labour were available, and communications were good, with a road to Oslo and the River Nitelven. Raw materials and the finished product were transported by horse along the road in summer, and on the river in winter. In winter there was also the hazard of wolves along the river.

1863 : The factory had one manager and 56 employees. Between 1863 and 1865 output rose to 36,000 gross matches per annum.

1870 : The factory employed 115 workers, and produced 55,000 matches in 10 months. The factory initially made phosphor matches, but soon started producing safety matches. During 1871 and 1872 the factory only produced safety matches, but then restarted phosphor match production as safety matches proved less popular than expected.

1872 : The factory was doing well, and a new factory at Grønvold in Østre Aker was built. Together they were called Nitedals Tændstikfabrik A.S. Grønvold made safety matches only, whilst the factory at Markerud concentrated on safety matches. Ludwisgen and Schelderup bought 25% of the company, with Sundt retaining control.

1873 : Phosphor matches made up one third of total output, until 1875 when the new factory at Grønvold took over all phosphor match production.

1874 : The expanding company needed capital, and became a public company.

1875 : The factory had 150 full time workers, and a further 500 people worked at home gluing the boxes together. The output of both factories was 93,327 gross phosphor matches, and 34,568 gross safety matches. The international market for matches was strong, and prices held high. Important buyers were E. Kratzenstein of Hamburg and A. Herman of London.

1879 : There followed a period of recession. Markerud employed only 79 workers, 28 of whom were under 15 years old. Exports to Hamburg, London and Amsterdam fell as cheaper matches were available from other [unspecified] sources. The price of safety matches decreased gradually through the 1880s, but "Nitedals Special Safety Match" was well known abroad, and could demand good prices.

1883 :  It was discovered that labels were being forged by A. Knøs & Co. in London. After legal action in Britain Nitedals slowly recovered sales and by 1885 employed 170 full time workers at Markerud.

The workforce at this time was composed of :

   Manager:                       1
   Office Workers:                4
   Men over 15 years old:        50
   Women over 15 years old:      88
   Boys, 12-15 years:             5
   Girls, 12-15 years:           15
   Boys, less than 12 years:      3
   Girls, less than 12 years:     4

On April 1st 1883 Sundt died. He left 5000 NKr in a trust fund for retiring employees.

1886 : There was a sharp fall in home workers when the factory bought 5 box machines and 7 label machines.

1887 : Start of  the horse illustrations on Nitedals tændstikfactories labels.

1889 : Nitedal and other Norwegian match manufacturers nearly came under foreign ownership. Seeking financial help they contacted "The Match Union" of London, who agreed in principle to buy the factories. Nitedal's agent in London, Fredrik Løvenadler, demanded a position on the board of the syndicate, and that workers should keep their jobs if they wanted to. The sale never happened.

1890 :  Competition from Japan decreased the demand for Nitedal matches. Rangoon and Penang had previously been the main export markets in the East. Nitedal tried exporting to South America. They started to produce a new type of match stick for this market; shorter, thinner and in smaller boxes. This was a success.

1895 : Brazil increased the tariff on imported matches by 600%. In this year Nitedal Markerud produced 4,191 crates of safety matches (209,550 gross), but only sold 3,798 crates. The loss was 18,936Kr.

1896 : In March the factory in Nittedalen closed down. Production was moved to the factory at Grønvold. This factory was capable of competing with Swedish factories.

Labels at Nitedal, Markerud, which are mentioned:

Several different labels in different shades of yellow, with black print.

Logo: Medals
Text: "Nitedals Paraffinerede Sikkerhedstændstikker uden svovl og fosfor. Tænde kun ved strygning mod Æskens Riveplade." ("Nitedals Paraffin Safety matches without sulphur or phosphor. Only light if struck against striking side on the box")
Some also have red print on yellow.

Nitedals Tænstikfabrik got prizes and medals in Stockholm in 1860 and Paris in 1867.

One label is also aimed specifically at the USA. In addition to the above text it says:
"Licensed Match. Distributed by Albert Pick & Company, Chicago, USA"
This is inspired by Jönköpings original.


Another type in the same colours has the letters V and T superimposed on the centre of the label, with medals at the sides.
Text: "Nitedals sikkerheds tændstikker. Manufactured in Norway"
All these labels were in use after the 1860s.


After 1860 the factory labelled phosphor matches with blue or red on a white background.
Logo: Double cross in centre, medals at sides.
Text: "Nitedals Tændstikker". At the sides: "JL Sundt, Christiana"
Text at side: "Norwegian-African Trading Co., Christiana. Sole Agent, West Coast Africa". At the middle of the side edge is a flag with the Norwegian lion, the letters N.T.A.C. and "Trade Mark".

In 1877 the following label was used:
Logo: A standing up lion between medals. Red or black print on yellow paper.
Text: "Nitedals Lion Safety Match. Christiana"



In 1878
Text: "The Giraffe Safety Match"
The print was red or blue on a yellow background, or blue on white.
There are also giraffe labels printed in black and red on yellow.




2) H. Jølsens Tændstikfabrik, Enebakk 1866-1886

1866 : Situated east of Oslo, the location had aspen, waterpower and labour nearby. It's exports (from 1870 onwards) were mainly through Bryant and May of London. Also exported to the East, Australia and South America.
1870 : A fire razed the factory to the ground.
1871 : A larger factory was built. This utilised water power.
1875 : Another fire closed the factory for almost a year. Andr R. Lind was the factory's director, Jølsen was the manager.
1882 : Lind bought the burned down factory at Bryn in, Ø. Aker and both factories were run in parallel.
1884 : Both factories made sever losses, due to not selling any matches.
1886 : Jølsen's tændstikfabrikk closed down. Some machinery from Enebakk was moved to the factory at Bryn. Even the workers. the school and the marching band moved. Times were difficult for people with families, but some also got similar work at Heggedal (Christiana tændstikk), Brunlanes or Nittedal.

Labels from H. Jølsens Tændstikfabrik

Several red labels for phosphor matches;
Logo: Bears, crowned lion head, half-moon, sun, and medals. Often in an elliptical frame.
Text: "Norway Tændstikker", "Jølsen Fabrik, Enebakk, Norway"

Safety matches with yellow labels inspired by Jönköpings Original.
Logo: Bears inside medals
Text: "H. Jølsens Fabriks Parafineredis Silekerhedstændistikker uden Svovel og Fosfor. Tænde kun ved strygning med Æskens Riveplade. Hovedoplag A. Hjorth, Christiana"
[NB. The agents name was misprinted on the labels, and should have been "Hiorth"]

A green/blue label with the same logo
Text: "H. Jølsens Fabriks Giftfrie Tændstikker. Hovedoplag A. Hiorth, Christiana"

Red labels with a bear logo on a shield between medals.
Text: "H. Jølsens Tændstikker. Non-poisonous". At the side: "Enebakk, Norway"

Yellow label with black print
Logo: A deer and an oak tree
Text: "H. Jølsens Impregnerede Sikkerhedsstikker. Trade Mark. Hovedoplag hos A. Hiorth. Christiana"

H. Jølsens Tænstikfabrik A.S. got prizes and medals in Vienna (1873), Philadelphia (1876), Paris (1878) as well as the silver medal at the industrial display in Christiana (1883).

3) Bryn Tændstikfabrik, Ø Ager (1872-1932)

1872 - 1874 : Nilson & Youngs fabrikk, 1872-1874
1874 - 1876 : Henrik Don's Tænstikfabrik, 1874-1876
1883 - 1906 : H Jølsens Tænstikfabrik A.S., 1883-1906
1906 - 1913 : Until 1906 all output was phosphor matches. After 1906 the name of the factory was A. S. Bryn tændstikfabrik.
1913 - 1932 : In 1913 joined with Halden Tændstikfabrik and later with Nitedals Tænstikfabrik. This gave rise to the company name A.S. Bryn-Halden & Nitedals Tændstikfabrik. The factory at Bryn was closed down in 1932 and machines brought to Grønvold. Before 1900 Bryn used the same labels as the factory in Enebakk.

4) Rødfos Tænstikfabrik Vestre Toten (1875-1895)

1875 : Produced 50,000 gross phosphor matches in a year.
1879 : Bankrupt.
1881 : New owners, started again.
1889 : Burnt down. Only the brick walls and water wheels remained. The factory was rebuilt over the spring and summer.
1892 : In april, it burnt down, followed by rebuilding. In july it burnt down again.
1895 : The 1st of may it closed down for good. The state bought the factory and converted it into an ammunition factory.

The factory had its peak in the 1880s. It exported to China and India, while the Japanese and Indian match stick industries were still developing.

Some labels from Rødfos Tændstikfabrik

Red print on white paper
Logo: The dampboat "Jernbarden" on Mjøsa (largest lake in Norway, near Rødfos), surrounded by decorations.
Text: "Rødfos Tænstikker", and on the side "Hovedoplag Kristiania"

Green print on white paper.
Logo: A star in the middle of the label is surrounded by swinging pennants bands.
Text: "Rødfos tændstikker", on the side: "Hovedoplag Kristiana"

Red print on white.
Logo: A globe with wings and mercury sticks . Two medals on each side. All within an oval frame.
Text: "Rødfos Registered Tændstikker". On some also "Manufactured in Norway"

Rødfos Tændstikfabrik won prizes at the Philadelphia displays of 1876 and 1878.

5) Fredrikshalds Tændstikfabrik, later Halden Tændstikfabrik (1875-1922)

1875 : Fredrikshald Tændstikfabrik.
1880 : Halden Tændstikfabrik registered. Produced both phosphor and safety matches.
1882 : Fire.
1886 : 176 permanent workers, plus people at home gluing boxes. Had no box machines. Production was now only 235,000 gross phosphor matches. Until 1892 the factory had significant exports of phosphor matches to India and China.
1895 : Strong competition from Japanese. Factory converted to producing safety matches.
1913 : Joined Bryn.
1922 : Closed down after a fire.

Labels at Halden

1876 label with red print on white
Logo: Warrior with a shield in the middle
Text: "Fredrikshalds Tændstikfabrik", at the side: "Fredrikshald, Norway"

The early safety matches had black print on a yellow label (inspired by Jönköpings original).
Text: "Fredrikshalds Tændstikfabriks Parafinerede Sikkerhedstændstikker uden svovl og fosfor. Tænde kun mod äskens plan."

1880 known label: "Kriger i brynje" in black on white. Also called "Halden Warrier"

Since 1882 they had a label in red print on a white background.
Logo: A key surrounded by 4 medals.
Text: "Haldens Tændstikker. Made in Norway"

For the phosphor matches the same key is seen later in different designs. Also used on labels for safety matches.
Text: "Haldens Superior Impregnated Damp Proof Safety Match. Made in Fredrikshald, Norway"

From 1882 red on white "Hesteskoetiketten" (Horse Shoe label). A horse shoe between medals.

From 1886 "Sau etiketten" (sheep label). A sheep inside a medal in the middle of the label, in red on white. This was called the "sheep-Tændstikker"

1877 - The "Gun Patti" label. A sitting crowned elephant in the middle of the label. Red on white. This was for export to India.

1896 "Haldens Express" - red/brown text on yellow.
Logo: A wheel with wings rolling over the globe. This is surrounded by medals and electrical sparks.
Text: "Impregnated Halden Express Safety Match. Made in Fredrikshald. Norway"

"Haldens Telephone" came in several colour variations.
Logo: Two telephone handsets crossed. Surrounded by sparks and medals.
Text: "Telephone Safety Matches. Impregnated. Made in Norway"

On another telephone label we find a complete telephone in the middle and medals at the side.
Text: "Telephone Safety Matches. Impregnated. Made in Norway"




The best known of the Haldens labels might be "Haldens Electric" (1896), printed in red on black.
Logo: Big red sun sending beams in all directions, surrounded by 4 medals.
Text: "Haldens Electric Impregnated Safety Matches. Manufactured in Norway.

Label from 1896.


Label around 1900.

Label made after 1913 (Bryn)


First award Sydney, 1880. This also came with Norwegian text.

6) Agnæs Tændstikfabrik, Brunlanes, 1877 onward. (1 km from Stavern)

1876 : Property was previously a distillery. Owner Christiansen together with engineer Jens Undahl turned this into a match factory.
1885 : They installed a box machine. In this year the factory made 250,000 gross phosphor matches.
1887 : In july Nitedals Tændstikfabrik AS bought the factory at Agnæs.
1897 : Fire.
1899 : 99 people working at the factory. They produced 249,400 gross phosphor matches, but sold only 186,250 gross of these.
They won prizes at Paris (1878) and Christiana (1883).

Some Labels

From 1877 - red print on white.
Logo: Fable animal with wings, horses head and fishtail.
Text: "Agnæs Tændstikker. Registered Trade Mark"

After 1878 there were several variants of this, sometimes with the text "Christiansen & Co., Laurvig, Norway" on the side.

1877 Red and white label
Logo: Frame with ornamental corners containing a beehive with medals on the sides and the letters "C" and "T".
(Beehive because bees are keen on aspen and abundant in the area.)
Text: "Christiansens Tændstikker". On the side: "Christiansen, Norway"

Also some with the same logo, but
Text: "This very superior brand Agnæs Tændstikker is manufactured by Christiansen & Co., Laurvig, Norway. Being machine made every match is warranted to light." At the sides: "Frame-dipped. Machine made."

Since 1882 red and white label - also used with a cross between the medals.
Text: "Medals Tændstikker". On the side: "Christiansen, Norway"

Several red and white labels with different logos, i.e. a deer (the stag), with an ostrich (pampa). These were obviously meant for specific export markets.

One safety match label is black printed on yellow. This is again inspired by the Jönköpings original.

Another safety label in black on yellow
Logo: Fire breathing dragon with wings extended. Also patterns in the corners of the label.
Text: "Christiansens Superior Safety Matches Ignite only on the Box". On the underside of the box it says "These superior Matches are manufactured only at the Agnæs Factory, Laurvig, Norway."

After Nitedal Tændstikfabrik AS took over the factory, only Grønvolds and Markeruds labels were used.

7) Bergens Tændstikfabrik, 1884-1895

1884 : Bergens Tændstikfabrik.
1885 : The factory employed 88 workers. The amount produced is not recorded. Bergens Tændstikfabrik was one of the first factories in Norway with electric lighting.
1890 : Only 59 people worked at the factory. Bergens Tændstikfabrik was never really successful and changed owners frequently. We know that they exported to the East and that both phosphor and safety matches were produced.

Known Labels:

Labels with red or blue print on white paper.
Logo: A fire breathing dragon between medals.
Text: "Bergen Tændstikker", on the side: "Jens Undahl. Bergen. Norway"
(Jens Undahl was well known in the match industry. See notes on Agnæs Tændstikfabrik.)

Black print on yellow paper.
Logo: On an oblique banner the dragon is placed in a circle in the middle. Medals are to the sides.
Text: "Bergens Safety Match. Bergens Tændstikfabrik. Bergen"

The medals on Bergens tændstikfabriks boxes are from the display in Paris in 1878. This was before the factory in Bergen was started. This may seem strange, but the explanation is that Jens Undahl (the first owner of Bergens Tændstikfabrik) had transferred an earlier prize to his factory in Bergen.

8) Sogndal Tændstikfabrik, 1855-1884

1855 : The Sogndal Tændstikfabrik started business. Owner was Augustus Sjøberg (swedish nationality). He builded a big factory with two floors near a waterfall. Near the village aspen and cheap labour was available.
1868 : He solf the factory to Henrik Krohn from Bergen and civil-engineer M.H.Krog from Sogndal.
1870 : The factory was destroyed by a fire.
1871 : Production re-started.
1872 : Factory had 16 adults and 20 children (under the age of 15) at work.
1875 : Sogndal Tændstikfabrik got corporated and expanded. At this time 110 people were working, half of them women and 20 children (under the age of 15). Export was mainly to England, Holland, Portugal and Italy.
1881 : Economic recession. At 7 may there was a fire and in september the same year another one. The factory was rebuilded with a length of 32 meters and two floors.
1883 : Another matchfactory owner, Jens Undahl, buys the corporative.
1884 : A fire destroyed the factory. The factory closed down.




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