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A rare, George III brass, pocket or lady's lantern, which folds into a book



Dates
Circa 1750
Dimensions
11.00cm wide (4.33 inches wide)
2.00cm high (0.79 inches high)
10.00cm deep (3.94 inches deep)
18.00cm framed height (7.09 inches framed height)
Description / Expertise
Expanding or unfolding on a spring. The vent with decorative piercings, etched to the sides and spine to simulate binding, with two-piece handle fixed to the spine,

Length 11cm Depth 10cm Height x 18cm when open
To illustrate its small size the lantern has been photographed closed in its book form beside an 18th century, sheet glass lantern Length 8.5cm Depth 5cm, Height18.5cm

For folding book-form lanterns of similar date, see R. Gentle & R. Feild, Domestic Metalwork 1640 - 1820 (1998), p. 193, Figures 20 & 21.
Medium
Brass
Origin
United Kingdom
Literature
Rare survival of an object made for practical use, with an attractive and deceptive aesthetic which effectively flat packs and taking up very little space when not in use. Illustrates the ingenious creativity of the Georgian craftsmen, concept of a device and the sophisticated requirements of the Georgian lady or gentleman. Although made over 250 years ago, it is a fabulous example of concept design.
Exhibitions
Although they would have been made in fairly significant numbers, surviving brass lanterns which fold into book form when not in use are rare. The mechanism to open and close is so simple, but hardly and incredibly practical. This example is in excellent original condition and a delight to handle. The design is an ingenious concept for aiding safe movement in the dark around the house or outside without having to carry more bulky equipment around. A gentleman or lady could go to their room or outside in daylight and put the closed lantern into a pocket or bag and use it to illuminate their return by unfolding the lantern and lighting a candle. Folded into a book it is very soft to handle.
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