Artifact of the Month

This was our Guess the Gadget at the McLeod County Fair this Year:

Donor:  John Mallak

Accession #:  2015-0016-002

History:  Set of 6 wooden spills (coiled wood shavings).  Made by donor John Mallak.  A spill was used for transferring a flame from an open fire.  Spills were used for lighting candles, whale oil lamps, pipes, cigars.  Spills were used before friction matches became commonly available around 1859. Wooden spills could be purchased, but were cheaper to make at home with a spill plane.  The spill plane is unusual in that the shaving is the product, not the waste product.    A container to hold spills was called a spill holder; was usually stored on the mantle, and often had a pattern to match whale oil lamp glass.


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