Promethean matches, 1828.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Firemaking device patented by Samuel Jones (Strand, London) 1828. Individual glass vesicles with a single drop of vitriol are sealed and wrapped in slips of paper which are coated with a mixture of chlorate of potash, finely-pounded sugar and gum arabic. The paper is then rolled to form a spill. When light is required a pair of pliers is used to nip the end of the match, breaking the vesicle of vitriol and mixing it with the primed paper to create a flame. From the Bryant and May collection of fire making.