The larger steel pistol was made in Italy in the early 18th century at a time when firemaking devices like this were modelled on pistols. The two smaller tinder pistols are miniaturised forms from Japan which would have been used as clothing toggles and slipped under a belt or girdle. A small bag containing the combustible tinder would have hung from the lower ring. Tinder pistols like these were rare and would only have been used by the wealthier clases - whether in England or Japan.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library