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History and Use of the Silver Candlestick

History and Use of the Silver Candlestick

The silver candlestick, of the many interesting items crafted by English and Scottish silversmiths, remains perhaps the most famous. Sterling and many other cities in England or Scotland housed silversmiths  unique  in terms of craftsmanship and artistic expression. The Georgian and Victorian eras stand out as the most promising for the quality and beauty of the silver candlestick.  It is  little wonder that on the antique market you can find many silver candlesticks that are for sale.

What is a Candlestick?

Put simply, a silver candlestick is an item designed to hold a candle. For thousands of years, candles were used to provide light in homes around the world. Each culture developed their own candlestick makers.  These were craftsmen who specialized in the making of durable, useful, and often beautiful candlesticks.

Early History

The creation of the candle may pre-date civilization as there is no way to know which culture developed it first. The primary purpose was illumination as the flame was too small to be used for cooking or other purposes.  The ancient Egyptians are the first known to have developed the candle, dating to around 3000 BC. Candles were used to illuminate rooms in the pyramids, palaces and homes of both rich and poor.  However, the development of a proper candlestick to hold the candle did not happen until much later.

Early Evidence

The earliest evidence of an item specifically made to hold candles dates back to around 400 BC. Clay candlesticks were crude, but quite effective. Brass was initially the most common metal used for candlesticks. It is sturdy, durable, and attractive, but silver was simply better. However, it took a combination of factors to make silver the most desired metal used in the creation of candlesticks.

Introduction of Silver

More recent use of silver for candlesticks became prominent in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  This was particularly the case in England and Scotland along with most of Europe. Due to the discovery of new deposits of silver, combined with advancing technology, silversmiths could perfect their work.

The result was the creation of many beautiful silver candlesticks along with the more elaborate candelabras, which hold more than one candle designed more for artistic purposes.

Perfect Metal

Because silver was malleable, beautiful, and resisted the burns commonly associated with candlesticks, it made for the perfect metal. Many elaborate candelabras along with simpler candlesticks were crafted by English and Scottish silversmiths.  The historic value of such objects was not considered as highly as they are today.

Silver Candlesticks Today

Households have replaced candlesticks thanks to the introduction of electricity. With electric light now so commonplace, the silver candlestick has become a relic of the past. The expression found in Georgian and Victorian silver candlesticks still evokes a sense of wonder.  The skill, talent, and techniques used to create these works seems unsurpassed.

You will find plenty of antique silver candlesticks on the collector’s market thanks in large part to their popularity. While not every family needed a snuff box, they certainly needed candles to light their way at night.

English and Scottish Silver Candlesticks

Whether crafted in Sterling or elsewhere, English and Scottish silver candlesticks in particular reflect the talents of the silversmiths.  Antique candlesticks with ornate design and stamp designating their origin and creator give valuable insights into life in bygone eras.

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