Keeping the Home Fires Burning


English Arts & Crafts Hand-Hammered Brass Candle Box with Repoussé Lions Rampant Shield (LEO Design)


150 years ago, before the advent of domestic electricity (1880-1900) or widespread delivery of natural gas to homes (1890-1910), coal, wood and peat were the most common household fuels.  Lighting was provided by candles and oil lamps.  Candles were a domestic necessity—and a convenient storage box would be found in the kitchen, if not several rooms of a large home.  Candles might be used to keep a convenient flame at-hand.  They (or a thin "string-like" candle called a "spill") might also be used to transfer a live fire from one place to another.

When the English Arts & Crafts candlebox, shown above, was made (c. 1890's), electricity and gas were already provided (or about to be) in highly-populated areas (cities and large towns).  Gas and electricity would roll-out to less densely-populated areas over the following decades.

This Arts & Crafts candlebox would certainly have been used.  Nevertheless, the artisan-designer probably realized that such an item was a relic—a happy reminder—of an earlier time and need.  Such was the undercurrent of the Arts & Crafts Movement: to "revive" the past, often in a sentimental and sympathetic way (naturally, executed in the best of taste and craftsmanship). 

The box shows two hand-hammered repoussé Lions Rampant supporting a chevron crest.  One lion is dexter (on the right hand) and the other is sinister (on the left hand)—however, the assignment of right and left are based on the viewpoint of the person carrying the shield (which is the opposite of the person viewing the shield being carried).  The dexter side of any work of heraldry is considered the more honorable position, although, the sinister side (though less important) is not considered a place of dishonor (as the name, sinister, might imply in common language).

The metalwork on this candlebox is well-executed.  Beneath the feline heraldry, the box's lid and two short sides are adorned with fruit, flowers and leaves.  Along the front panel, a quaint village scene is portrayed—homes, a windmill and flocks of birds—between two crossing botanical elements.  Click on the photo above to learn more about this handsome piece.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248