HAMP-917D56: Post-Medieval candle snuffer

Rights Holder: Winchester Museums Service
CC License:

Rights Holder: Winchester Museums Service
CC License:

Image use policy

Our images can be used under a CC BY attribution licence (unless stated otherwise).


Unique ID: HAMP-917D56

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

An incomplete Post-Medieval (1650-1750) candle snuffer, or more accurately a wick-trimmer, consisting of an open box with a flat plate forming a cover, both of which have hinged arms (now broken off byond the hinge) extending to one side.

The box is rectangular, measuring 37.83 x 29.03 x 12.55 mm externally and 31.49 x 24.25 x 9.10 mm internally. The shorter sides are angled slightly outwards as they extend upwards; the longer sides are set vertically. The longer sides are separate and soldered on; the shorter sides are bent up from the base, and one has a notch at one end to accommodate the pivoting arm for the cover.

Of the two separate longer sides, one is a decorative mount, rectangular with trefoil terminals. Each foil has a circular stamped depression, and the terminal is separated from the rest of the side by a pair of transverse grooves. Arranged horizontally between the terminals are four equidistant ring-and-dot stamps, with another pair of transverse grooves between the central two stamps. This mount measures 64.90 x 13.21 x 2.20 mm.

The other side is apparently undecorated. It has a rectangular centre, with a narrower arm projecting at one end, with a pierced V-shaped broken end holding an intact rivet which attaches it to the arm of the separate cover plate. The rivet is 3.4mm in diameter on the outside face of this arm. The arms would originally have pivoted or hinged about this rivet, and although both are now broken they would originally have ended in loop handles, as on a pair of scissors. At the other end of this side of the box, a circular-sectioned projection extends from the top corner, c.5mm in diameter and narrowing to 1.7mm diameter. It has a slight curve, possibly from damage or possibly intentional, and is c.32mm in length. The function of this projection is uncertain.

The separate hinged flat plate measures 31.83 x 24.34 x 2.35 mm. It is undecorated but has tooling marks on the underside (internal to the box). Its arm extends 16.5mm to one side and is c.8mm tall as it runs along the plate; from the end of the plate it also extends c.2mm in the opposite direction, giving a maximum height of c.10mm. This arm also has a V-shaped broken end, and the other end of the rivet which sits on the outside of this arm measures 7mm in diameter. This plate hinges down to sit inside the box, trapping the trimmed wick debris. The whole object measures (max.dimensions) 89.91 x 31.44 x 13.21 mm and weighs 54.55g.

Wick-trimmers would have functioned rather like a pair of scissors and Kevin Leahy comments "Until the invention of bending (thus self-trimming) wicks, candles needed attention to keep them in order. The box of the wick-trimmer was to catch the charred end of the wick to stop it falling onto the table cloth" (pers.comm. December 2013).

A wick trimmer seemingly with such a mount has been found in Southampton in a pit containing datable material c. 1630-1725; a separate trefoil mount was found in the same pit (Scott in Brown and Hardy 2011, 178-180; figs 5.30-5.31, nos 59, 65). The trefoil mounts from these wick-trimmers are often discovered by metal detectorists and have in the past been attributed to strap-fittings and casket mounts. Other incomplete and fragmentary examples of wick-trimmers on the PAS database include SOM-409575, LANCUM-B774E3, WAW-35DFC3, SWYOR-6E9078, LIN-F6A115 and PUBLIC-8BF257.

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: POST MEDIEVAL
Period from: POST MEDIEVAL
Date from: Circa AD 1650
Date to: Circa AD 1750

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 89.91 mm
Width: 31.44 mm
Thickness: 13.21 mm
Weight: 54.55 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 1st January 2000 - Monday 20th May 2013

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Katie Hinds
Identified by: Ms Katie Hinds
Secondary identifier: Mr Robert Webley

Other reference numbers

Other reference: Winchester Museums Entry Form 3620

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South East (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Hampshire (County)
District: Winchester (District)

References cited

Similar objects

Find number: IOW-D85E28
Broadperiod: POST MEDIEVAL
A fragment of a post-Medieval copper-alloy candle snuffer, more accurately a wick-trimmer (c. 1650-c. 1750). The object is sub-rectangular…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Find number: WILT-F418B3
Broadperiod: POST MEDIEVAL
Incomplete copper-alloy wick trimmer, also known as a candle snuffer. It is 95mm in length and comprises two parts joined together with a sep…
Workflow: PublishedFind published

Find number: LEIC-6823A1
Broadperiod: POST MEDIEVAL
Post medieval copper alloy mount from a candle snuffer/wick trimmer, 68mm long and 13mm wide. The object is in fair condition with a green/bl…
Workflow: Awaiting validationFind awaiting validation

Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: HAMP
Created: 5 years ago
Updated: About one year ago

Other formats: this page is available as qrcode json xml geojson pdf rdf representations.