Flintlock tinder pistol. English, 1780-1830.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Flintlock tinder pistol with wooden handle, steel trigger and hammer head, brass body, tinder well and cabriole leg shaped rest. 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.