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DateOriginal Topic
1st March 2005Fire Ligters of the Era.
By Derek C
I stumbled across a web site posted on one of my many favorite news groups. The items in question was about "Fire Pistons", the pre-cursor to the Bic lighter/ box of matches.

Fire, as in cooking, burning down hospitals & kraals etc., was important to both sides. Can anyone tell me what the preferred/modern method was for making fire during the Anglo/Zulu war?

I suspect that the odd fire piston was used, especially considering the ammount of animal horns around? There is a web site that gives demonstrations, if anyone is interested.

1st March 2005Diana Blackwell
Could you give us the link, please?
2nd March 2005Michael Boyle

A good site for the history, mechanics and use of fire pistons :


Although a fire piston was patented in England in 1807 it's widespread use seems to have been mooted by the invention of friction matches in 1827 (called 'Congreves' after the rocket and later still 'Lucifers') and the invention of safety matches in 1855. I haven't yet come across any reference to fire pistons in the middle to late Victorian era.


3rd March 2005Derek C
A link with videos', is..

High speed download is reccomended.

Michael, ....
Any idea as to what the Zulus' using for starting a fire during this era?
3rd March 2005Michael Boyle

So far I've found reference to using the old 'fire-drill' (hard stick twirled in soft wood) as the traditional method,but I seem to recall period references to steel and flint as well.Of course the traders must have offered matches but I'm not sure how popular they would have been.(Life without pockets and snuff instead of smokes!)