of Small Collectors

  Español   Croatian article # 37




by José Luis Muñoz Diaz


Since ancient age the silversmith's activity is characterized by a tireless research of new objects for civil use.
Between the 17th and the 18th century a flourishing request promoted a wide production of uncommon and curious articles: for the table, for personal use or for decorative purposes.
In this article I present one of these amazing objects: the candle snuffer. This is a traditional piece of Hispanic silversmithing, originally reserved to ecclesiastical use but soon spread to domestic use following an ever growing request.
The first candle snuffers were made in the 16th century, but their diffusion dates to the 18th century, when models of various forms were produced following the fashions and the taste of the moment, usually maintaining their scissors form, accompanied by trays or vertical stands.

The scissor portion was used to cut off the burning tip of the candlewick. The flaming tip was trapped and extinguished inside the small box. Modern candlewicks are made of pure cotton and do not need to be cut. In older times the wicks were made of a hollow rush stem and necessitated continuous maintenance to preserve the maximum output of light.

Candle snuffers may be found in museums and expositions and are pieces very appreciated by collectors, obtaining high prices in the antiques market.

a selection of candle snuffers

Museo Patrimonio Nacional. Madrid 1842

Museo Patrimonio Nacional - Madrid 1842
Fabricadas por la Real Fabrica de Platería Martinez, en 1838. Museo Municipal de Madrid. Despabiladera con bandeja con escudo heraldico de su anterior propietario.
Manufactured for the Real Fabrica de Platería Martinez, in 1838. Museo Municipal of Madrid
Snuffer and tray with coat of arms

Despabiladera inglesa de uso cotidiano, con soporte vertical. 1710

English snuffer,
with vertical stand - 1710
Fabricadas en latón con sus bandejas. Colección particular J. L. Muñoz Palmatoria con apagavelas y despabiladera. Inglaterra – Londres. 1810
Brass snuffer and tray. Private collection
J. L. Muñoz
chamber candle stick with estinguisher and snuffer. England - London 1810
Inglaterra, cerca de 1820 en close plating Estado Pontificio - Roma, cerca de 1820, plata 889/1000
England, about 1820 'close plating' snuffer
Private collection Giorgio Busetto
Papal State, Rome (Italy), about 1820,
silver 889/1000
Private collection Giorgio Busetto
José Luis Muñoz Diaz - 2005 -
Muñoz Arce - Plateros
English text: Giorgio Busetto and Jayne W. Dye