Back
Joya Barcelona Fair 2018 skyscraper.
Goldschmitte 2018 skyscraper.

Fire and Flame. Cultural History Of The Lighter

Exhibition  /  17 Jun 2018  -  06 Jan 2019
Published: 02.07.2018
Fire and Flame. Cultural History Of The Lighter.
GfG
Management:
Christiane Weber-Stöber
Streichfeuerzeug, Germany, form of a Zeppelins, strike area under the gondola.
. Photo by Volker Putz..
Streichfeuerzeug, Germany, form of a Zeppelins, strike area under the gondola.
Photo by Volker Putz.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
An extended exhibition on the development of fire making. Going by the title Fire and Flame, Cultural History Of The Lighter, the visitor is offered an epoch-spanning comprehensive show that unites pieces from before Christ to mid-20th century.
The theme's whole spectrum is addressed by a compilation of over 400 exhibits, which belong to Hamburg businessman Volker Putz's collection of over 4000 objects in total. 2000 years of the lighter's cultural history can be discovered with the presented pieces. Volker Putz, a collector well-known among experts, has been bringing together a broad range of objects for over 25 years. Besides products of unknown origin, precious pieces by Cartier, Dior, Dunhill, and Boucheron, and the like, can be found. The depiction of a wonderfully designed art deco lighter from the 1920's first triggered the collector's passion of Volker Putz. Especially, lighters by Dunhill cover a great range of creative implementation. It shows the producer's highly skilled craftsmanship that included materials like gold and silver. The utilization of enamel, Japanese namiki lacquer art, or the incorporation of clocks underlines these lighters' luxurious character.

The show does not only stretch chronologically, but also presents exhibits of most diverse regions. Pieces from the Orient, India, Asia, North and South America, as well as Europe are testimonies of the respective culture and époques that they originate from. Costly designed, plastically worked fire steels from India and Tibet, partly gilded, reveal the objects' relevance.

Nowadays, lighting fire is a natural matter to us. Though, over several centuries, it has been a laborious process, requiring great skill. The production and controlled usage of fire was one of the most important steps in the history of human cultural development. Inflaming something without effort and at any time has not been a matter of course up until the 19th century. Since the time when iron could be hardened to steel, until the late 19th century, fire steels have been applied for this purpose. By beating these steels against (flint-) stones, sparking would set easily inflammable tinder on fire. The glowing scale could, with sufficient air feed, inflame more material. Fire steels from the Roman period are amongst the earliest exhibits of the show.

During 16th and 17th century, the first wheellock than flintlock lighters, both emerged from weapon technological developments. The procedure of lighting a fire was no longer based on beating or rubbing steels, but on a more elaborate mechanism. Both utilized a valve tensioned by a spring, which had a flint or a pyrite fixated in its two jaws. Depending on the exact technique, the valve would shoot forwards to hit a fire steel or press against a friction wheel to produce sparks. These would inflame tinder stored in a box below.

Later, ignition devices using galvanic or electric principles evolved. One example is the electrophoretic ignition apparatus invented by Alessandro Volta in 1775, or Wolfgang Döbereiner's platinum lighter, invented at the University of Jena, in 1823. Moreover, chemical sources of fire, like phosphorus and sulfur igniters, or sophisticated devices with quite refined mechanisms were engineered in the following time.

The exhibition illustrates a fascinating selection of these diverse lighters, amongst which pneumatic, solar, electric, amorce-lighters, as well as striker and friction wheel lighters of current provenance can be found.


Volker Putz regarding his unique collection and the exhibition:

I have always been a collector that enjoyed strolling through flea and antique markets. When I visited the London Portobello market, over 25 years ago, I bought two art deco lighters by Dunhill, from the 1920's. I was intrigued by the interesting technique, the handcrafted production, as well as the beauty of its decoration. This was when my passion was sparked. I entered the British Cigarette Lighter Collectors Club and developed an interesting network.

I became increasingly aware that the mastery of lighting fires was one of the most important steps in the cultural history of humanity. Generating fire independently of influences of nature was crucial in this development. According to mythological deliverance, Prometheus was the one who stole Zeus' fire and brought this cultural good to humanity. Cultural development was enabled by fire, as such, for example, the preparation and conservation of food and with that the possibility to work with divided responsibilities. Without fire, the Metal Ages (Bronze and Iron) and the industrial revolution would not have taken place.

These realizations motivated me to compile an extended collection on the topic of "
fire making", over the past 25 years. I visited collectors’ meetings in Great Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, USA, and of course Germany. The topic increasingly influenced our travel destinations, to "hunt" on-site, meet fellow collectors and their respective collections at home, cultivate contacts with distributors, or visit museums with exhibitions on fire making.

I constructed the show chronologically. It starts with the subject of fire striking, a method that lasted around two thousand years. Fire striking is associated with fire steels from all cultural areas, tinderboxes,
tinderbags, fire strikers, and Asian "chuckmucks". It follows the topic of solar ignitors by means of burning glasses. Then, wheel- and flintlock lighters were invented in parallel to the production of firearms. Here, the beating-process is mechanized. The wheellock emerged around 1500 and the flintlock around 1610. With the beginnings of chemistry, between 1780 and 1830, electric ignition devices after Volta, Fürstenberger, and Gerzabek were invented. In 1823, the chemist Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner from the University of Jena managed to start a fire with the help of a hydrogen-oxygen mixture on a platinum sponge. This was the origin of the Döbereiner lighter, the unprecedented 19th-century lighter.

A slightly unconventional means for generation of fire is the fire piston. This method employs compression heat. These pneumatic lighters can be found since around 1750, in the South East Asian area from Myanmar to the Philippines. In 1802, the pneumatic lighter was then rediscovered in France, as the so-called "Molet piston", and consequently produced industrially.

Around 1830, the era of matches began. To this, the show "Vesta Boxes" provides examples for boxes with striking surfaces for phosphorus or sulfur matches.
At the time of inventions, between 1840 and 1900, a variety of fire starting appliances had been created, like phosphorus and sulfur applied to fuse, amorce-strips, -platelets, or -discs, ignition pills, and sandstone corundum.

A special topic is the use of short circuits in electric lighters, which were either battery-powered or connected to the domestic power supply.
Around 1903, the Austrian chemist Auer von Welsbach developed the cerium-iron alloy that produced spark which would revolutionize all established ignition techniques, at once. The cerium-iron became the igniter of the 20th century, and up to now, each "throwaway lighter" contains a small round stick of five millimeters length with this alloy.

Since about 1910, this invention had caused the development of the industrial production of lighters, either as striker-lighters or as wheel-lighters. The exhibition shows lighters produced by Dunhill, Cartier, Ostertag, Chic, Sarastro, Boucheron, and the like. Especially lighters by Dunhill demonstrate a great range of creative implementation, manifesting the artisan craftsmanship of their producer. Many countries like Austria, Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, Switzerland, and the USA are represented. Furthermore, lighters in walking sticks, early gas-lighters, and lighters themed with aircraft, cars, ships, and golf can be found.
/  
Volker Putz, Hamburg .


A publication accompanying the exhibition will be available at the price of 10€.
 

Hours

Tuesday to Sunday, between 11 am and 5 pm.
Electric table lighter, battery, wooden base with an integrated cigar cutter, fidibus and ashtray.
. Carl Müller Vienna (optician), Mariahilfer Str. "Casa Piccola"; Austria, ca. 1920.
. Photo by Volker Putz..
Electric table lighter, battery, wooden base with an integrated cigar cutter, fidibus and ashtray.
Carl Müller Vienna (optician), Mariahilfer Str. "Casa Piccola"; Austria, ca. 1920.
Photo by Volker Putz.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Wheellock-Tischfeuerzeug, the outer striker spring and the engraved ornamental sheet over it, which runs out in a bird's head, shows the lighter as a work from the Teschener radius.
. Engraving on the back "Paul Kohl in Kappel". Steel, brass; 1st half of the 17th-century.
. Photo by Volker Putz..
Wheellock-Tischfeuerzeug, the outer striker spring and the engraved ornamental sheet over it, which runs out in a bird's head, shows the lighter as a work from the Teschener radius.
Engraving on the back "Paul Kohl in Kappel". Steel, brass; 1st half of the 17th-century.
Photo by Volker Putz.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Prank Tischfeuerzeug. Painted silver on foot on old perfume bottle from China; Jade, silver.
. Manufacturer of the Parisian silversmith "Maquet"; France, ca. 1920.
. Photo by Volker Putz..
Prank Tischfeuerzeug. Painted silver on foot on old perfume bottle from China; Jade, silver.
Manufacturer of the Parisian silversmith "Maquet"; France, ca. 1920.
Photo by Volker Putz.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Fire steel. Engraving: riders, wild boars and dogs; Persia, 17th-century.
. Photo by Volker Putz..
Fire steel. Engraving: riders, wild boars and dogs; Persia, 17th-century.
Photo by Volker Putz.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Friction-wheel petrol lighter. 18k gold, glass enamel, with clock.
. Manufacturer Cartier, France, ca. 1930.
. Photo by Volker Putz..
Friction-wheel petrol lighter. 18k gold, glass enamel, with clock.
Manufacturer Cartier, France, ca. 1930.
Photo by Volker Putz.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Table Prank Lighter. Bronze on marble base. Fidibus for cigar-smoking, typical for a smoking room.
. Austria, around 1920.
. Photo by Volker Putz..
Table Prank Lighter. Bronze on marble base. Fidibus for cigar-smoking, typical for a smoking room.
Austria, around 1920.
Photo by Volker Putz.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Collector Volker Putz..
Collector Volker Putz.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Appreciate APPRECIATE