Scissor Snuffer

Project details

  • Date

     February 5, 2015

  • Task

     Study Collection

  • Category

     Featured Finds

This is the box to a type of candlesnuffer made in Continental Europe ca. 1650-1700. Missing its top, the box was mounted on a scissor-like blade. The other blade of the scissor would be fixed with a plate that fit inside the box. When the blades were closed over the wick of a burning candle, the candle was snuffed and the end of the wick was cut off into the box. The pointed end of the blade was used to lift the wick for cutting. This artifact was found in an archaeological feature next to the site of Jamestown’s church from 1617 to the mid 18th century, so the candlesnuffer may have been used to snuff or trim the candles used in religious ceremonies.

Introduced in the late 15th century, candlesnuffers were common household implements because candle wicks had to be regularly trimmed to keep the length of burned wick from falling into the candle and creating a large uncontrolled flame. The development in 1820 of the first ‘snuffless’ candle containing a wick that consumed itself as it burned made snuffers obsolete.