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A Candle-by-the-hour Holder

A Candle-by-the-hour Holder

This curious and rare device in wrought and engraved iron belongs to the large category of table candlesticks and is also classified as Candle-by-the-hour Holder since it gave way to empirically calculate the candle flame duration.
This refined object consists of a square-shaped and engraved plate, supported by four thin and partially twisted legs with shell-shaped feet; in the plate center there is a small decorated stem, on top of which there are a sort of elegantly fashioned and engraved spring scissors working as candlesnuffer. A shell-shaped handle, joint to the plate, was designed for moving the lamp from one room to another.
A special candle was rolled up around the stem: a kind of waxed thread ball which end was secured between the scissors blades, protruding a few centimeters. Once the candle was lit, the flame burnt until reaching the scissors that put it out automatically.
Assuming that an inch of candle could correspond to about 15 minutes of light, its duration could therefore be preset according to need, calculating the length of the candle sticking out above the scissors. A whole ball of waxed thread could last up to 70 hours, and this procedure also represented a way of economizing the candle consumption.

CANDLE-BY-THE-HOUR HOLDER
Wrought and engraved iron
Northern Italy
18th century
Cm 11 x 18 x 14 H
References : AA.VV., Antichi Strumenti dalla Collezione Nessi, Milan 2004, p. 334; Vittorio Fagone, Il momento artigiano: aspetti della cultura materiale in Italia, Milan 1976, p. 39; AA.VV., Objets civiles domestiques, Imprimerie Nationale, Paris 1984, p. 430, n° 2064.