Candle Snuffer

Don Bull writes: I bought this in Wytheville, Virginia last week. The tag said "Candle Snuffer." That seemed pretty logical to me. It is 2 3/4" tall. There is a leaf decoration on the handle. The only mystery is the cone finishing in a corkscrew twist. Is it only design or does it serve a purpose? Has the object been identified correctly?

Ron: As the twisted portion is tapered and left hand thread I suppose it is just a neat finial on the end of the snuffer. I would have bought it if found and priced correctly!

Don: The price was $29 - 10%.

Ron: Good deal!

May 29, 2002 - a message from Sullie:

Hello Don,

I have had an interest in Corkscrews, and in early lighting devices for many years, and have very small, modest collections of each.

Conical devices, such as the one you bought, were used to extinguish candles, and hence are called "extinguishers" by students and collectors of lighting. Most everyone else does call them "snuffers". There actually are devices called snuffers.

The wick in modern candles is woven such that it curls over into the flame as the wax burns and lowers on the candle. The wick is thus consumed automatically, and the candle does not become very smoky. The original candles had wicks that did not curl. As the wax was consumed, and the flame lowered on the candle, the wick would begin to stick into the top of the flame, and cause smoke - - lots of smoke. So a sissor-like device, usually with a box near the front end of the blades, was used periodically to trim or "snuff" the wick. Done well, the end of the wick would be cut and trapped in the box, the smoking which prompted the action would cease, and the candle would remain lit. Done improperly, the candle would be extinguished or "snuffed out". So to 'snuff a candle' was a sign of ineptitude.

Thought you might like to know. BTW, that was a very nice find, and and most reasonable!!

Regards, Sullie

Return to Q & A Page


Visit The Virtual Corkscrew Museum