Tinder pistol, all steel grasshopper variety. European, 1750-1800.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
European tinder pistol with tapering steel band handle, elliptical button at the end, pin trigger, tinder well, spill receptacle and steel pin feet. Tinder pistols were used to make flame. As in contemporary firearms, when triggered a piece of flint sprang against steel to create a spark which ignited a charge of gunpowder. This in turn set fire to a piece of tinder. Tinder pistols were expensive and were owned only by a small and wealthy minority of households. They were often converted by a gunsmith from ordinary pistols.