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Synthetic wax, a petroleum product, was not invented until sometime in the 1860's. Prior to that time, the most common candles were made of sheep or beef fat, known as "tallow," and sometimes beeswax was used. In the 18th century, home-produced candles were dipped, but by the 19th century they could also be molded. The user of a mold such as the one pictured here would first thread a cotton wick through a small hole in the bottom of a well in the mold and secure the other end, along with several other threaded wicks, to a stick at the top of the mold. Hot tallow or beeswax was poured into each hole and allowed to harden before removing the candles from the mold. This mold produced 12 candles at a time. The average family burned 1-2 candles per night.


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Candle Mold

date   1800-1830
depth   5.0"
height   10.5"
width   6.12"
process/materials   tin
accession #   #1886.48.05.01

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