Object Place: Argentina or Peru
50.5 x 8.1 x 1.2 cm (19 7/8 x 3 3/16 x 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
The cylindrical tube has foliate, bilaterally symmetrical decoration around its middle; foliate gold bands are soldered to the center and each end. A ring soldered at right angles to the center of the cylinder is used to secure the chain. One end of the chain is attached to a stone flint set in a silver mount with a cast form of a silver cow; the other end has a cone-shaped element that seats in the cylinder and is designed to hold the wick.
This flint is illustrated without its wick, which would have been attached to the hook at the end of the chain and run through the small cylinder at center. The spark for the wick was provided by the stone flint, seen here in its setting, adorned with a cast silver cow.
The cylindrical wick holder was typical for South American flints, although animal- and bud-shaped examples were also produced. The cast cow ornament functioned as a grip or handle and is typical of many made in the nineteenth century. The chain seems exceptionally long and may be a replacement. In silver and gold, such a flint would have served as a handsome personal accessory for a gentleman smoker or for use at the table in lighting candles, braziers, and the like.
This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.
Collected in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Mr. and Mrs. Edmund P. Graves between 1898 and 1913.
Gift of Miss Ellen Graves, Mrs. Samuel Cabot and Mrs. Roger Ernst in memory of their father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Edmund P. Graves