These red phosphorus matches were made by the Salvation Army  as an attempt to provide an alternative to the more commonly available matches made with white or yellow phosphorus. Working with the vapors of white or yellow phosphorus caused deposits of phosphorus to build up in the workers jaw bones, killing the bone and resulting in its decomposing and falling apart. The affected bones would also give off a green glow as they were eaten away.  Removal of the jaw bone could save the affected persons life, otherwise death from organ poisoning was the most likely result. This condition was common enough among workers in match factories that it became known as “Match Maker’s Leprosy” as well as “Phossy Jaw”.

In addition to making safer matches, the Salvation Army also campaigned with local retailers to get them to sell only red phosphorus matches. The use of white phosphorus wasn’t prohibited until 1906. 

Advertisement from Phil Mays Illustrated Winter Annual,  1893
Additional info found: Wikipedia, Salvation Army Heritage Center, London Particulars


These red phosphorus matches were made by the Salvation Army as an attempt to provide an alternative to the more commonly available matches made with white or yellow phosphorus. Working with the vapors of white or yellow phosphorus caused deposits of phosphorus to build up in the workers jaw bones, killing the bone and resulting in its decomposing and falling apart. The affected bones would also give off a green glow as they were eaten away. Removal of the jaw bone could save the affected persons life, otherwise death from organ poisoning was the most likely result. This condition was common enough among workers in match factories that it became known as “Match Maker’s Leprosy” as well as “Phossy Jaw”.

In addition to making safer matches, the Salvation Army also campaigned with local retailers to get them to sell only red phosphorus matches. The use of white phosphorus wasn’t prohibited until 1906.

Advertisement from Phil Mays Illustrated Winter Annual, 1893
Additional info found: Wikipedia, Salvation Army Heritage Center, London Particulars