Bryant and May collection of fire-making appliances.

Made:
1861-1979 in Fairfield Works
maker:
Bryant and May Limited
Bryant and May collection of fire-making appliances. (fire making appliances)

Creative Commons LicenseThis image is released under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Licence

Buy this image as a print 

Buy

License this image for commercial use at Science and Society Picture Library

License

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

The Bryant and May collection of fire-making appliances.

Bryant and May Ltd was for many years a company world-famous for the manufacture of what was once one of the most familiar of fire-making appliances – the box of matches. From 1861 billions of matches were made at a factory, the Fairfield Works, in Bow, east London until in 1979 the work was transferred to Liverpool (factory since closed). In its earlier years the company developed an interest in the history of fire-making and eventually opened a large private museum in its offices at Bow. The collection was initially formed through the efforts of a dedicated private invidual, Edward Bidwell, and was supplemented in 1927 by additional exhibits collected by J H Daniels. The museum was cared for by Miller Christy, another private collector who brought his own knowledge and enthusiasm to it. Christy compiled an extensive printed catalogue of the collection in the mid-1920s which was published by Bryant and May Ltd in 1926, a supplement following two years later. During the 1930s selected items from Bryant and May’s museum were displayed at the Science Museum and this led to the whole collection being transferred in 1937.

The collection comprises about 1200 separate items. The time span is from the Stone Age until today, and they come from many countries and cultures across the globe – ranging from North American Eskimo fire drills to Hungarian and Japanese fire steels. Among the more primitive means of making fire are a wooden tinder box and home-made sulphur-match holder of crude English make, both about 200 years old. Although probably the commonest types they are intrinsically worthless and few have survived. At the other end of the scale of complexity is Berry’s Instantaneous Light Box, patented in 1824. This shows up the difficulty before the introduction of electricity of obtaining light quickly during the hours of darkness. The device relies on the action of vitriol (sulphuric acid) on a match-head coated with potassium chlorate, which creates flame. Henry Berry designed an ingenious compact mechanism using a cord and pulley to carry out the required movements with the hand staying well clear. At the heart of the collection is a vast number of friction matches of all main types: Lucifers, Congreves, Fusees, Vestas, ‘strike-anywhere’ and safety matches. It includes a rare example of a friction match made by the original inventor, John Walker of Stockton-on-Tees, in 1826.

Two sheets of amadou or "German tinder"

Two sheets of amadou or "German tinder"

Sheets of amadou or "German tinder"

Sheets of amadou or "German tinder"

Piece of the fungus

Piece of the fungus

Tinder made of agave flower stalk

Tinder made of agave flower stalk

Cedar-wood, finely pulverized; as used by some Indian tribes

Cedar-wood, finely pulverized; as used by some Indian tribes

Charred rag tinder. Britain.

Sketch of a Fire-drill in Use

Sketch of a Fire-drill in Use

Model of Fire-drill and Hearth (length 15 1/4 ins and 13 1/4 ins); as used by natives of Sitka

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 15 1/2 ins and 13 ins); hearth shows many pits

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 15 1/2 ins and 13 ins); hearth shows many pits

Photograph, getting fire with a Fire-drill

Photograph, getting fire with a Fire-drill

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 16 1/4 ins and 14 1/2 ins); drill of cane; hearth shows many pits

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 16 1/4 ins and 14 1/2 ins); drill of cane; hearth shows many pits

Photograph of a native of Kivu making fire

Photograph of a native of Kivu making fire

Fire-drill and hearth

Hearth for a fire-drill

Hearth for a fire-drill

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 12 1/4 ins and 15 ins)

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 13 3/4 ins and 14 ins)

Fire-drill and hearth

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 19 ins and 14 1/2 ins); Murray River

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 18 ins and 17 ins)

Two Fire-drills (lengths 16 1/2 ins) and hearth (15 1/4 x 2 1/2 x 7/8 ins); drills

Photograph of an Indigenous Australian using a long fire drill

Photograph of an Indigenous Australian using a long fire drill

1908

Fire-drill and Hearth (lengths 31 ins and 32 ins)

Fire-drill and hearth

Photograph of two Natives of India (Yanadis of Nellore) making fire with a simple Fire-drill

Photograph of two Natives of India (Yanadis of Nellore) making fire with a simple Fire-drill

Model of drill and hearth

Photograph of two natives of India (Kanikars of Travancore) making fire with a simple fire-drill

Photograph of two natives of India (Kanikars of Travancore) making fire with a simple fire-drill

Model of drill and hearth

Photograph of three Natives of India making fire with a simple Fire-drill; two holding the hearth in position

Photograph of three Natives of India making fire with a simple Fire-drill; two holding the hearth in position

Fire Drill and Hearth - Uganda

Fire Drill and Hearth - Nyasaland.

Fire Drill and Hearth - Nyasaland.

Sketch of a Thong Fire-drill in use.

Photograph of two natives of India (Badagas of the Nilgiri Hills) making fire with a Thong Fire-drill

Photograph of two natives of India (Badagas of the Nilgiri Hills) making fire with a Thong Fire-drill

Thong fire-drill and hearth, Port Clarence, Alaska

Thong fire-drill and hearth, Port Clarence, Alaska

Photograph of Drill

Photograph of Drill

Drill, Hearth, and Drill-bow

Handpiece (length 7 1/4 ins) of wood

Thong (length 5 ft 10 ins) of thick leather for rotating a Fire-drill

Thong (length 5 ft 10 ins) of thick leather for rotating a Fire-drill

1893

Sketch of Pump Fire-drill in use.

Sketch of Pump Fire-drill in use.

Photograph of two natives of India (Paniyans of Malabar) making fire with a simple fire-saw

Photograph of two natives of India (Paniyans of Malabar) making fire with a simple fire-saw

Model of saw and hearth

Model of saw and hearth

Hearth (length 7 ins) and Sawing-thong of split rattan

Fire-saw and Hearth (lengths 10 1/2 ins and 16 ins)

Hearth (length 15 ins) of soft wood and Sawing-thong (17 1/2 ins) of split bamboo

Two Strips (length of each 26 ins) of split rattan

Fire-saw and Hearth (lengths 16 ins and 7 3/4 ins)

Fire-saw and Hearth (lengths 16 ins and 7 3/4 ins)

Fire Hearth in form of a Ceremonial Shield - Australia

Fire Hearth in form of a Ceremonial Shield - Australia

Photograph of two Maori people using a fire-plough, Aotearoa, New Zealand

Photograph of two Maori people using a fire-plough, Aotearoa, New Zealand

Photograph of a fire-plough and hearth

Photograph of a fire-plough and hearth

Fire-plough and Hearth (lengths 18 ins and 17 ins); hearth oval in shape

Fire-plough and Hearth (lengths 18 ins and 17 ins); hearth oval in shape

Cast of Nodule of Iron-Pyrites and Flint Flake; originals (now in the British Museum) found by Canon Greenwell

Photograph of two Nodules of Iron-Pyrites

Photograph of two Nodules of Iron-Pyrites

Nodules of Iron-Pyrites

1926

A collection of various examples from Great Britain

Flint Flake

Flint from Vlora, Albania

Flint from Vlora, Albania

One of a group of various worked flints made at Valona

One of a group of various worked flints made at Valona

One of a group of various worked flints made at Valona

One of a group of various worked flints made at Valona

One of a group of various worked flints made at Valona

One of a group of various worked flints made at Valona

One of a group of various worked flints made at Valona

One of a group of various worked flints made at Valona

A very large Strike-a-light (length 2 3/4 ins) of the Albanian type

Various Strike-a-lights of hard flinty stones

A Block of Obsidian

Flint (a small rough lump of chert; length 1 in)

Flint (a small rough lump of chert; length 1 in)

Flint

Flint

Flint, finely worked round edge

Flint, finely worked round edge

Flint

Flint

Flint, steel, and tinder, used by the Batang-Lupar Dyaks of the Kapuas River, Borneo, 1912

1912

Roughly-worked gun-flint

Roughly-worked gun-flint

Flint

Flint

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

One of a series of eighty-one fire-steels

See more

Details

Category:
Firemaking
Object Number:
1937-682
type:
fire making appliances
credit:
Gift of Wilkinson Sword Limited