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Found this item in a antique shop on the weekend and I am stumped...It is made of bronze and is about 8 inches long....The top is removable and in inside is hollow so it is a container of sorts...Very heavy and  early,  probably early 19th or even 18th century and seems middle eastern or possibly french with the fleur de lis decoration. the wooden section with rope inside is the stopper.   Any ideas would be appreciated.....Cheers   Steve 





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Looks like a container for fire starting material, not rope but wool. Wool yarn is wrapped around wood rod. A small portion is pulled out, fluffed out; a spark lands in it and ignites the wool. Blowing on it increases the spark to ignition point and you have fire. Putting the lid on snuffs the spark by depriving oxygen.

Modern fire starter kits use a metal rod instead of wood. When rubbed against the file-like container wall sparks are created.  With yours one would have to carry flint and steel to create sparks, or matches.

In researching I found a similar length of wool twine wrapped around a wood rod, said to be used for cleaning black powder weapons. I don't know much about the subject but it is a possibility you might want to check.

Thanks for the reply Tom - That certainly sounds feasible.  I assumed the wool was the packing to form the seal but looking at it now it is just loosely wrapped around the wood and appears to have always been loose, like a wick.   It's robust construction also points towards being  used regularly and heavily , food for thought...Thanks   again Steve

I'd guess along the same lines as Tom. Looks to be made in India or the Middle East, due to decoration, and hanging ability might indicate a hanging lantern or oil lamp of some kind?

Thanks for that . I spent 2 hours on Google yesterday and it is definitely some form of igniter. Just need to find out what it lights... I will follow your suggestion of some form of lamp....Thanks Again     Steve 

I had  a similar device that had a flint igniter attached. Was a cigarette lighter for windy days. I carried it skiing and/or boating. My Mother sent it to me from Spain in the early 1960s.

Hey, Stephen and Tom - There is quite a bit of wear ( I think) on the end near where the wick, thingie is) Might that be flint?

Tom - Did yours have a "flint" end like that? It might be a lighter?

Thanks Vicki and Tom....I have uploaded a image of the other end of the barrel where the chain attaches. That end appears to look like it has been hit against something...Might be onto something!.....Steve


Flint is a rock that causes sparks when struck by steel. The sparks ignite gunpowder, wool, or lighter fluid.  Flints wear out (disintegrate) rather quickly and have to be replaced.  I would guess the damaged end was used to strike the flint.

If this is as old as I think, many weapons were flintlocks and flint was readily available.  Was also used to start fires.

My lighter had a wheel like striker like cigarette lighters.  The wheel is steel and spinning it forces it against flint which is pushed outwards with a coil spring.

You say it's bronze, and I think bronze DOESN'T emit sparks which is why it's used in mining. I'd like to know if a magnet sticks to the damaged end.  If it does stick, that part is steel or iron.

If it doesn't stick then it's not steel (or iron) and was not used to strike a flint.

 No it doesnt stick, so thats out...I wonder why that end is damaged....?

Can't say. The fact that it's not steel or iron only rules out that it wasn't used to strike flint.  I still think it's a fire starter.

Yes I agree. Definitely some form of fire starter / igniter.  I still think that bottom end may have something to do with striking. when you remove the cap it makes sense that it would gravitate to the base of the tube, the chain is the right length and connected to the striking end ....Maybe the inside of the tube was for storing flint?


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