Home About Collections Walks and Talks Publications

The Matchbox Trading Rings

Small Things Remembered

For many years, the inhabitants of two towns have been sending small items, often in matchboxes, between each other. From Angarth, situated on the English-Scottish border, to Nova Angarth, a small town in New Zealand, and back again, there has been a fascinating exchange of things.

This practice, which until now has been undocumented, offers a detailed glimpse of everyday life on two similar yet different islands, separated by 14,000 miles of sea and history. It is believed the practice began in the early 1970s, as a form of communication between two sisters, Hilary and Jean Russell.

Considering the matchboxes, local historian Harold Durie describes them as “a way of bringing together disparate communities, as well as providing opportunities for other types of exchange, which we rarely see in 21st century developed countries”.