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French match strike, the history and purpose of

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

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

French match strike

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.

French match strikes from Maison Cherie

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