Matches originated during the reign of the Roman Empire, but they were
not self igniting. The matches were composed of thin strips of wood tipped
with sulphur. The sulphurous match head was touched against a hot surface,
such as fire embers or a heated poker, whereupon the sulphur would ignite.
This form of match persisted into the 18th century. These matches were
not an original ignition source; typically a fire would have to be lit,
using steel and flint, to light the match.
In 1786 sulphur matches were sold in Paris and London with a bottle, the inside of which was coated with phosphorus. The sulphur match head was rubbed in the phosphorus and then on the cork stopper of the bottle, thereafter the match ignited.
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