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Tinderbox

Object Number: 
Z.189
Date: 
1816-1830
Medium: 
Iron
Dimensions: 
Overall: 5 3/4 x 1 1/4 x 1 3/4 in. ( 14.6 x 3.2 x 4.4 cm )
Marks: 
impressed: on handle: "IVES/PATENT/BRISTOL"
Description: 
Hand wheel composed of a sheet iron handle with a removable piece that reveals a three-compartment interior; an iron wheel extends from the handle base.
Gallery Label: 
This tinderbox contains three interior compartments to hold the tinder (charred cloth), flint and a short piece of string, and small sulphur-tipped wooden splints. This invention, patented by J.S. Ives in England in 1816, improved on the earlier flint and steel method of starting a fire. First, the flint, string and a splint were removed from their compartments. Then the cover was opened to expose only the tinder. The flint was held against the wheel and over the tinder with the thumb of the hand holding the "handle." The steel wheel was spun with the other hand by pulling on the string that was wrapped around the pulley next to the wheel. Sparks would drop down into the tinder, which would start to glow and then be used to ignite a sulphur-tipped splint. The small splint would be quickly used to transfer the flame to a candle or lamp.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group