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Portrait of an old man selling matches from 'London: a Pilgrimage' by Blanchard Jerrold and Gustave Doré. Earlier in the nineteenth century match sellers made their own matches from wooden splints dipped in brimstone. By the time Jerrold was writing, in 1872, improved matches called lucifers were being manufactured and street sellers would buy them direct from the manufacturer and sell on at a small profit. Work in a match factory was hard and unhealthy for the mainly female workforce, with the phosphorus used in the process causing 'phossy jaw', a type of bone cancer. Match girls at the firm of Bryant & May famously went on strike against their working conditions in 1888.
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