Tinder box, English, c 1750-1820.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This is a typical domestic English tinder box set for household use. It comprises a circular (115mm diameter) japanned tin tinder box with tea-cup handle at the side and candle socket on the lid; a charred rag tinder, damper, flint and steel (the latter converted from an old file). Before the introduction of matches, tinder boxes were used to light fires and lamps. The flint (or striker) was struck against a piece of metal (the steel) to create sparks and ignite dry material, (the tinder).