Volume 5 Issue 1
CANDLES & CANDLEHOLDERS
Candles date back as far back as the middle ages. They, obviously, were a necessity
then as a means of light. They lost their importance for lighting in the early 20th
century. They were then only used in churches or for emergency lighting.
During the 16th century, candles were found in the homes of the middle class. They were
usually sold by the pound in bundles of eight, ten, or twelve. The early Chinese and
Japanese made candles with wax from insects and seeds. Wax skimmed from boiling
cinnamon was used to make tapers for temple use in India. The first known candle in
America is attributed to the Native Americans. They burned oily fish, called candlefish,
wedged into a forked stick. The early settlers of New England used wax from Bayberries.
Tallow was another common candle making material. Although, beeswax was preferred over
tallow due to its odor. In the 1800's paraffin made tallow obsolete, and it is rarely
used in candles anymore.
During the mid-17th century the custom of adding small candles to the Christmas tree
began. It was first widely used in Germany then spread to Eastern Europe. Candles were
glued onto the tree with melted wax or attached with pins. Later, approximately 1890,
small candleholders were used for the Christmas candles. Between 1902 and 1914, small
lanterns and glass balls were used to attach the candles to the Christmas tree. Then, in
1882, the first Christmas tree was lit by electricity.
There was a resurgence for the use of candles in the 1960's for mood lighting or for
special occasions. A type candle that became popular in the 1980's is the tea light.
The holders for the tea lights were made of brass, ceramic, or glass.
There are several styles of candleholders. The earliest type was the picket type, which
has a sharp point to hold the candle and sometimes can be found today. The socket type,
which is used more often today, began to come into use in the mid 1660's. Some other
types are the thin candleholders for tapers, holders for the pillar type candles, and
those for tea lights.
Candleholders are made from various materials. Metal is the classic material. It can be
easily molded into any form and are much more sturdy. After many years of polishing, a
Glass candleholders can be found in many colors. The most popular are blue, clear, and
green. Although, pink is becoming popular and can be found occasionally in depression
Ceramic candleholders can be plain fired clay or simple colored ones. The style is usually
the basic simple form as it best resists the firing process. Clay candle holders have
been found in Egypt, which are dated from the 4th century B.C.
Wood candleholders can be carved, painted, stained, or turned into various shapes. They
tend to have a heavier, masculine look to them. They were initially used in castles and
Candleholders usually followed the style of furniture. So, when attempting to date a
candleholder, remember to determine the style used in the manufacture of the candleholder.
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The Next Newsletter will feature Valentines.
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