A UNIQUE ANGLO-INDIAN PEN-ENGRAVED IVORY-INLAID SPILL HOLDER OR SPILL VASE
India, Vizagapatam, mid 18th century
Of cylindrical shape, with rimmed foot, bulbous and spreading to the rimmed top, with ivory rim, overall decorated with a foliate motif.
H. 17.4 cm
Diam. of opening 6.5 cm
A spill vase is a cylindrical vase for containing splints, spills and tapers for transferring fire, for example, to light a candle or pipe from a lit fire. A spill vase was usually kept on the mantelpiece, filled with spills used to transfer fire from the fireplace to candles, lamps, a pipe or a cigar. Spills are made of tightly rolled paper or thin wood sticks. Spill vases can be made of wood, iron, porcelain, pottery, brass or even glass. Commercial matches surfaced in England during the 1820s, but were a relatively expensive commodity until the end of the 19th century, and therefore spills, for a long time, were a more cost-effective solution to light a cigar.