Matchsafe of Francis Lewis (1837-1878)

Object Number: 
ca. 1870
Silver plate
Overall: 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (7 x 3.8 cm)
Flattened oval container with hinged top, decorated with flowers and scrolls in relief. Striking pad on bottom. Engraved "F L"
Gallery Label: 
The match safe was owned by the donor's great-grandfather, Francis Lewis (1837-1878), who married Lydia Mount. The simple container, decorated with Rococo ornament, held loose friction matches tipped with phosphorus which could be lit with the striking pad on the underside of the case. As early friction matches were combustible, metal containers were used to hold the matches in pockets and purses. The containers were popular from the 1870s to about 1910, when they were made obsolete by the success of the matchbook. Francis Lewis is a descendant of Morgan Lewis (1754-1844), a governor of New York and the sixth president of the New-York Historical Society. The Society has a posthumous portrait of Morgan Lewis (1910.4).
Credit Line: 
Gift of Carol R. Townsend
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group