Johan Edvard Lundström

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Johan Edvard Lundström (1815–1888).
Jönköpings match industry 1872.

Johan Edvard Lundström (1815–1888) was a Swedish industrialist and inventor who pioneered the production of safety matches.


Lundström was born in 1815 in the town of Jönköping, Sweden. He is recognized for having improved the safety match and making it possible to commercially exploit it. The safety match had been invented and patented by the Swedish chemist Gustaf Erik Pasch (1788–1862) in 1844, but at that time, it was too difficult to produce it. In 1845 Lundström started to experiment with these new type of matches in a small workshop he had rented. In 1846 his younger brother Carl Frans Lundström (1823–1917) joined his small workshop. In 1847 they were ready to set up a production plant and bought an estate on the coast of Lake Vättern where they built a large match factory. Today, their original factory is a museum.

Before the safety match was invented, matches were dangerous for the workers in the factory because the use of the poisonous white/yellow phosphorus that the workers were inhaling, in particular those who worked with the application on the sticks. After some years of exposure they could get infected from the poisonous phosphorus and get a disease called “Phossy jaw” and could lose their teeth. This disease was deadly. When the cause for the disease was discovered, the ventilation in the production process was improved, but the dangerous type of phosphorus were soon forbidden to use for matches. The safety match used the non-poisonous red phosphorus that was placed on the striking surface, not the match itself. The reason they were called “safety matches” was because they would only ignite on the striking surface on the box, nowhere else would the match ignite. The safety match patent included the combination of using red phosphorus and separating it from the stick. Johan made it possible to mass-produce the safety match.

The Lundström safety match got an award at the “World Exhibition” in Paris 1855. Alexander Lagerman (1836–1904), a Swedish engineer that was employed by the Lundström brothers, invented the first fully automatic match machine. The safety match combined with the advanced machines that the company developed themselves, soon made the company in Jönköping the largest match company in Scandinavia and one of the world's largest match production companies.[citation needed]

Lundström left the match business in 1863. It was later renamed Jönköping, then in 1903 merged with other match companies to become Jönköpings Tändsticksfabriks AB, finally sold to Ivar Kreuger in 1917. Kreuger incorporated the business into the company Svenska Tändsticks AB, today known as Swedish Match.

Lundström worked at his cellulose factory, Munksjö Cellulose, in Jönköping that he had founded in 1862 together with Lars Johan Hierta. In 1869 he left the Munksjö factory and founded Katrinefors cellulose industry in Mariestad, but left that business in 1875. He then worked as a government inspector in the match industry between 1875–77 in Sweden and was to a great extent involved in the work to prevent and forbid the use of the dangerous white phosphorus. He died in 1888 at the age of 73, having never married.


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