French match strike, the history and purpose of

Updated: Feb 17

During the 19th and early 20th century, match strikes or pyrogènes were a common feature in French bistros.

French match strikes or pyrogènes


During the 19th and early 20th century match strikes, or pyrogènes in French, were a common sight on the tables and bars of bistros all over France.


The purpose of the match strike in the preparation of absinthe


Back then, it was common to see a match strike sitting on a bistro table or bar for customers to use in the preparation of absinthe during the Belle Époque era.


A popular way of preparing this complex drink would be to place a sugar cube on a slotted spoon and lower it into a measure of absinthe. Once dipped into the alcohol mixture the sugar would be lifted out, still on the slotted spoon, and set alight using a match from the match strike or pyrogène. The flame would then melt the sugar and slowly into the liquid below. Once stirred cold water would then be slowly added from a water carafe.

The three features of a French match strike


The match strike itself had three objectives; the upper cylindrical container stored the matches, the ridged side was used to strike the match and it served as a promotional tool for alcohol manufacturers.


Porcelain match strikes made in France today


Unique reproduction French match strikes are still produced in France, made from porcelain and with hand-painted lines and accents. Today however, they are usually used in the home as a home décor item or as a fireside accessory.


We have a beautiful selection of wonderful reproduction match strikes made in France available in our online shop, perfect for those of us who just love French history, home décor and interiors.



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