Why are Antique Treen Tinder boxes difficult to find?


Antique treen/ wooden tinder boxes are quite rare ...why? A tinder box was used to store steel, flint and dried tinder, these were needed to start a fire. Steel was held in one hand and was struck by a piece of flint, the sparks that resulted were directed onto dry tinder, which would then hopefully create flames. Wooden tinder boxes hence were not the first choice of material due to the box itself having the potential to catch fire.

A few antique treen/wooden tinder boxes were made they were usually rectangular in shape initially dug out from a piece of wood with a sliding lid, slightly later boxes were wall hanging, divided into two unequal sizes compartments. In the larger compartment flint, steel, tinder and sulphur matches were stored and in the smaller compartment known as the hearth the spark was kindled. Sometimes there is a small lid for the hearth which was used to put out any glowing tinder,.

They were often stored near the kitchen hearth to keep the contents dry, many are found scorched from the fire or from spark production. Look out for signs of carbonisation on the interior of the boxes.

Finding a wooden tinder box is not common preferred materials were metal and the metal canister type were popular in the 18th century. these canisters had a candle socket on the lid and storage of the flint, steel etc inside.

This heart shaped tinder box in image 1 and 2 is extremely rare shape, it has the steel attached to the lid, and being small was probably to carry around in a pocket.

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