Making fire and lighting

Seen from this time, we can hardly imagine how difficult it was to get your pipe lit. Our seventeenth-century ancestors used a coal, removed from the open fire with a fire tong and handed it in a brazier. With the fireplace tongs or a smaller one you could put a glowing coal on the pipe bowl. In other cases a matchstick was used, a piece of reed or twig coated with sulfur that ignited easily and served to transport the fire to the pipe.

A brazier filled with glowing coals was used to move fire in the house. This custom starts with simple fire pots made of red earthenware. Gradually there is more luxury with the copper brazier on a wooden base or with a wooden handle to pass it on in a domestic circle. Suitable for the richer environments, these do exist in silver.

In the eighteenth century the tinder box was used to make fire. A small box containing a flint, a fire steel and a piece of highly flammable tinder fungus. The tinder box was often worn on the belt when you needed fire outdoors. At home there was the tinder pistol, a kind of revolver without a barrel, which only served to make fire with sparks. They are usually provided with a small candle with which the fresh fire bridged the time.

The nineteenth century brought major changes. The firing became a lot easier with the striker or match. These phosphorus-containing matches ignite by friction on any rough surface, such as the edge of the vesta box or the pyrogène. This earthenware match stand was placed on the table in cafes, with or without advertising, so that the drinker could light his pipe or cigar.

Next came the non-sparking safety match, which required a special surface on the box. Finally, there was the lighter. The latter has been around for about a century now and has brought a lot of comfort. After the Second World War, the lighter became the new status item with which you can show your level. You could show off with a silver or gold lighter from well-known chic brands. They, too, became obsolete, even by a trivial article such as the disposable lighter.

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