The manner of starting a fire in early days was to strike flint on steel, either mechanically or by hand. Both home and traveler usually had a tinderbox containing a steel striker, piece of flint and charred cloth or tow (tinder) to catch the sparks and burn. This is an early blackened pocket tinder box with steel, engraved on the base 'T. O'Hara'. Inside the box is housed an interesting U-shaped steel with curled-in ends. Originally, there would also have been a small piece of flint and possibly some appropriate tinder as described above. The condition is very good for age and use, however the release button is missing - but it still latches and releases by applying pressure to the button area and the hinge. If completely closed it is quite tight to open. These are fascinating historical artifacts and were even considered collectible in the late 19th century (see image from “The Sketch” from 1898).
2.75 ins (7cm) x 2 ins (5cm) x 0.5 ins (1.2cm). Weight 60 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 $32.00 USD - with no tracking is cheaper. For shipping cost to other countries, please contact us.
Early Personalized Tin Tinderbox with Steel, early 19th Century
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