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  • Excavated Marsden and Burrell Camp Candlestick

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    Excavated Marsden and Burrell Camp Candlestick - Inventory Number: REL 115

    This simple iron candlestick was the brainchild of S.L. Marsden and S.R. Burrell, who got a patent for it dated November 26, 1861. They are found plain and with “PATd / NOV / 1861” in raised letters around the rim, likely indicating those were made after the grant of the patent and the unmarked ones before, though it is possible others simply stole the idea and sold their own unmarked versions. This one is in excavated condition, making it tough to tell if it was marked, but is solid and has a good portion of its spike left. The idea, of course was to drive it into a handy piece of wood- they suggested the pole of tent, but it could go into the log in the wall of a winter hut, etc. Their innovation was to cut a screw on part of the spike so that it could be screwed in more securely if necessary and also sold them with bent spikes as well so it could better put fastened into a vertical surface and still hold the candle upright. “For camp purposes the invention will prove to be a great acquisition, as it is portable, and may be instantly stuck into any wood, such as a center-pole of a tent or into a convenient tree or stump. It cannot become casually broken and the cost is trifling.” The patent also stresses it could also be used in a home- driving it into a window frame, or anything handy, and also noted it could be inverted to place the last remnant of candle on the spike. If there were infomercials at the time, Marsdell and Burrell would have been making them. It is a nice example of the privately purchased gadgets purchased by soldiers or presented to them by loved ones to make army life, at least in winter huts, a bit more tolerable.

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    Inventory Number: REL 115