CHINESE FLINT STRIKER
Place of Origin: CHINA
Date: Qing Dynasty (19th Century)
This leather Chinese flint striker (or ‘chuckmuck’) is unusual for its brass fittings which are of better quality than most similar examples.
The brown leather purse of this set is fitted on its top-edge with a plate of brass engraved with floral motifs at either end as well as loops and an engraved bracket, so that the set could be hung from the owner’s belt. On one face, a brass rectangular panel depicts a stylised lù symbol (representing prosperity) at the centre of a geometric design which includes Buddhist swastikas symbolising good fortune. The reverse is then fixed with two Chinese characters within brass raindrop-shaped frames: the left character translating to ‘luck/blessing’ and the right ‘fortune’. Clearly, the original owner of this flint striker was eager to have as much good luck as possible on the battlefield! When open, the purse reveals a sticker marked with Chinese characters – possibly a name – as well as brass plaques with hook and slot for closing the purse.
Attached to the purse by a series of rivets and a brass band of scrolling foliage is the plate of steel which would be used for creating a spark to light the owner’s match, pieces of flint and a small amount of tinder usually kept within the purse.
Examples of these objects with this level of preservation and quality rarely come up for sale and are published infrequently. The British Museum, however, has one such fire-steel (Museum Number As1911,1007.1) which is decorated with a similar symbol (lù) at its centre to our own.