The Wallace Collection

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Tinder lighter
  • Tinder lighter
  • Felix Meier (c. 1672 - 1739)
  • Vienna, Germany
  • c. 1740
  • Steel, gold, copper alloy and walnut wood, russeted, watered, engraved, damascened and chiselled
  • Length: 26.4 cm, overall
    Weight: 0.505 kg
  • Inscription: 'FELIX MEIER IN WIENN'
  • A1206
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Tinder lighter, in the form of a flint-lock pistol. The barrel is divided longitudinally into two halves; the upper, which is of russeted and watered steel, is inlaid with gold strapwork ornament with a figure of Diana near the breech; the lower half is of gilt brass. On pressing the trigger the upper half opens on a hinge on the left side allowing a corkscrew taper-holder, engraved to resemble a serpent, to spring into position.

    The lock is of russet watered steel; the lock-plate is overlaid in gold and engraved with hunting scenes and inlaid in gold with the name of the maker:


    The cock and steel are similarly ornamented with gold strapwork.

    The stock of burr walnut is carved in low relief with interlacing foliage by the breech-strap and on the fore-end. The mounts are of gilt brass; the butt-cap is chased with strapwork and female masks and has on the end a trap with a hinged cover. The openwork screw-plate is chased and pierced with two hounds pursuing a hare among strapwork. Pressure on the trigger serves also to release a forked rest which enables the instrument to stand on a table. When not in use this rest folds back flush with the underside of the stock. Both rest and trigger-guard are chiselled with strapwork like the butt-cap.

    Viennese, about 1730.

    L' Art Ancien, I, 112 and 587; Musée Rétrospectif, 1865; L' Art pour Tous,
    1866, no. 156.

    Provenance: Frédéric Spitzer.

    Felix Meier worked in Vienna at the end of the 17th and in the first half of the 18th century, and was one of the best gunsmiths of his day. This beautiful little instrument is typical of his work. A tinder lighter by him with similar mechanism was exhibited in the Barking Museum, Eastbury Manor, in 1938, and one was sold at Christie's on 25 April, 1961, lot 235, 'the property of an American collector'. There are a pair of pistols and two pairs of guns by Meier at Vienna, one of which is dated 1740 (Grosz and Thomas, Führer, pp. 234 and 241); a flint-lock gun by him bearing the arms of England in the Musée de l' Armée (no. M 561); a pair of pistols at Turin (no. N 57-8), which belonged to Prince Eugene; and a pair of pistols at Stockholm (no. 855), which are signed on the barrels in the same way as A1206, and have his name on the locks as well. He is also represented in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum at Munich (M 89). A gun in the Gewehrkammer there (M 88) bears the signature, Keiser und Meier.

    The cork-screw-like holder was intended for a sulphur-spill. The long aperture under the butt-trap was presumably to hold such a spill. The lock has no external bridle for the pan-cover.

    Exhibited: Musée Rétrospectif; 1865, no. 2007 (F. Spitzer).

    L' art pour tous, 1866, no. 156, fig. 1485.

    Felix Meier was born in Wangen in the Allgäu about 1672. He came to Vienna in 1699 and was received as a Master in the Gunmakers' Guild there in 1702. His mark was a phoenix (N. Støckel, II, p. 788, nos. a 7891 and a 7823), but he also used his name struck in a crowned rectangle in the Spanish fashion (N. Støckel, loc. cit.. no. a 7890). He married in 1702 Anna Barbara, daughter of the gunmaker Georg Keiser, with whom he seems to have co-operated on at least one occasion. He died at Freysingerhof in 1739. He was famous for his watered steel barrels. This lighter is fully automatic; the charge lights the spill as the top of the barrel opens.