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. The pistol in the background is 18th century German and is of the earliest pattern. When triggered, the spark ignited a charge of gunpowder from which the flame in turn ignited a piece of amadou in a spring-held socket which popped up vertical and alight. In the right foreground is a 17th-18th century Italian pistol. These examples are from the Bryant and May collection of firemaking at the Science Museum, London.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library