Prior to the invention of matches (early 19th century), fire and light could mainly be achieved by lighting a taper or a candle. For this, one needed a spark and fuel, and the appropriate item to be lit. This spark was achieved by the use of flint and steel. Special tinder boxes were created for homes that were not easily portable, as well as tiny ones that could be carried on the person. This late 18th century example is a stunning piece. The box is made of agate for the top and bottom mounted in brass with a hinge at the back and a lift lever for opening at the front. The lower section is surrounded with a curved steel rectangle attached to the brass which acts as the steel striker for a flint – a small piece of which is included in the box. This could have easily been fitted into a pocket to be available whenever the owner wished to get fire or light, but would have needed tinder in the form of a flammable fabric or dried vegetable matter. A taper would then be lit and used to transfer the flame. These personal examples are quite unusual. The agate pattern is very attractive and translucent (as can be seen in the images). There are some lines within the agate but these do not appear to be cracks. The two pieces of agate are of differing shades and patterns. The condition is very good for age with just some minimal staining on the steel, but no rusting. This would be a magnificent item to add to a collection of lighting or fire-related items. 2 ins (5cm) x height 1.25 ins (3.2cm) x 0.5 ins (1.3cm). Weight 42 grams. This item appears in my book, “Antique Boxes, Inside and Out” on page 75.
Insured Air Mail Post with tracking to the USA would be $22.00 USD - with no tracking is cheaper. This item is covered by our own insurance policy.
Rarest Agate, Brass & Steel Pocket Tinder Box with Flint, late 18th century
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