Marie Antoinette Online Forum

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Author:  Liza [ Tue Jun 01, 2010 7:10 am ]
Post subject:  Matches

I am having trouble finding out what people in 18th century France used to light fires.
I believe matches of some sort existed.
Any help much appreciated.
Thanks very much.

Author:  jimcheval [ Wed Jun 02, 2010 1:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matches

In France, the match as a stick covered with sulphur is already mentioned in Furetiere's 1690 dictionary:
ALLUMETTE, f.f. Petit bafton de bois fec ou de rofeau trempé dans du foulfre qui fert à allumer la chandelle. On dit, quand on veut vanter du bois à brufler, qu'il brufle comme des allumettes. Une femme avare veut qu'on fane fervir les allumettes par les deux bouts.

Ces mots viennent de la prepofition ad, & de lumen, lu

Dictionnaire universel, contenant généralement tous les mots ..., Volume 1
By Antoine Furetière ... te&f=false

As of 1786, they had lighters:

Briquet Physique. On a [donné le nom de briquet phyfique à une petite boîte de poche, faite en fer blanc, qui contient des allumettes, une petite verge de fer, une bougie & un flacon rempli de phofphore. Pour fe procurer à volonté de la lumière, il fuffit de plonger une allumette dans le flacon, en produifant un petit frottement fur le phofphore : aufli-tôt qu'on la retire elle s'allume , &: communique enfuite la lumière à la petite bougie. La petite verge de fer fert à frotter vivement le phofphore , lorfque l'allumette a de la peine à prendre feu. C'eft vers le milieu de 1786 qu'on a connu à Paris ce petit appareil qui renferme une utile application de la propriété qu'a le phofphore de s'enriammer à l'air libre.

Dictionnaire de physique, Volume 1
By Gaspard Monge, Jean-Dominique Cassini, Pierre Bertholon, Jean-Henri Hassenfratz ... te&f=false

By that same year, "allumette" was also a slang word for the boy-thing:
Dictionnaire comique, satyrique, critique, burlesque, libre et proverbial ...
By Philibert Joseph Leroux ... te&f=false

Author:  Liza [ Wed Jun 02, 2010 7:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matches

Thanks a lot, Jim,
As usual, very helpful information.
Consequenty, I looked up sulphur matches, as I still wasn't sure how someone would light a fire with one of these: ... _match.htm
Sulphur Match
Matches originated during the reign of the Roman Empire, but they were not self igniting. The matches were composed of thin strips of wood tipped with sulphur. The sulphurous match head was touched against a hot surface, such as fire embers or a heated poker, whereupon the sulphur would ignite. This form of match persisted into the 18th century. These matches were not an original ignition source; typically a fire would have to be lit, using steel and flint, to light the match.

So, still not simple? People still had to muck around with steel and flint, then, to light the match?
Interesting point about the slang use of allumette too... now I understand why my kids go around calling this and that girl 'une allumeuse'!
Thanks again

Author:  jimcheval [ Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Matches

I think a girl who lights a man's fire (without intending to extinguish it) can be called a "lighter" independently of any slang for the male. :)

Otherwise it turns out the Encyclopedie not only mentioned other woods for matches, but says they were sold at grain stores and fruitsellers (funny, since I don't think either of those places sold tobacco, which would be an obvious association):

ALLUMETTE S. f. petit fétu de bois sec & blanc, de roseau, de chenevotte, de sapin, soufré par les deux bouts, servant à allumer la chandelle, & vendu par les Grainetiers & les Fruitieres. Les allumettes payent d'entrée deux sols le cent, & un sol de sortie.

And, if I'm guessing right, were subject to a duty of two sols per hundred coming in, one sol leaving Paris.

I don't know that there's anything unusual about having to use some sort of friction to light a match, so I would think the 18th century match was close to the wooden matches some of us once knew.

Author:  DreamersRose [ Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Matches

People have known about flint and steel since prehistoric times.

A "match" in the 18th Century was a slow-burning cord used used to fire a cannon.

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