'Spunk' box

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made at Kirkpatrick-Durham, Kirkcudbrightshire

Postcard of 'Spunk' box.
© National Museums Scotland

'Spunk' box

This wooden box for 'spunks' or sulphur matches dates from the early 19th century. It was turned out on a lathe at Kirkpatrick-Durham in Kirkcudbrightshire.

The box is in the form of a barrel which unscrews two-thirds of the way up. It has the initials R.I. (for Robert Innes) on the bottom.

Sulphur matches or 'spunks' have a long history, and may have been used by the Romans. Chemical methods of making fire were developed in the late 18th century and in the 1830s the first phosphorous matches - 'Congreves' - were introduced.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-103-604-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.MGP 1
Date: After 1791
Early 19th century
Material: Wood. Inscription: On bottom: R.I.
Dimensions: 3.90" H x 1.30" D base
What: Box, spunk
Subject: Matches, of all kinds and containers (NMAS Classification)
Who: Buchanites, Newhouse, Kirkpatrick-Durham (Maker)
Mother Buchan
Robert Innes (Owner)
Where: Scotland, Kirkcudbrightshire, Kirkpatrick-Durham
Description: Wooden spunk-box in the form of a barrel which unscrews two-thirds of the way up, with the initials R.I. on the bottom, from Newhouse, Kirkpatrick-Durham, after 1791
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