This reproduction brass rouge can is a storage container
for rouge that was used to polish the brass parts of the Argand-type
lamps in lighthouses. As on the original, the dividers are made
from tinplate and the inside surface of the can has been tinned.
This rouge can was ordered by the National Park Service for use
as part of a display at one of their sites.
Bulk rouge was stored in larger galvanized containers and
transferred to a smaller brass can such as this which was often
kept in the keepers service basket. The service basket was used
to hold the rouge can, polishing rags, brushes, scrapers, and
scissors that were used to trim the lighthouse oil lamp wicks
and clean the lamps burners.. It is uncertain if a top was originally
supplied for the can - apparently none of the few known surviving
cans have one. It is possible that the three equally sized segments
separated buffing compounds or "rouges" that were intended
for different purposes.
The service basket is a brass rectangular box with two
hinged covers. Some of the information in the 1853 "Instructions
to Keepers" should be of interest to collectors of Argand
lamps made for normal use in homes, shops, and work places. These
instructions are in keeping with others that have been found¹
and which were directed to the average individual using Argand
type lamps: Amongst other items stored in the basket was "A
pair of curved scissors to snuff [trim] the wicks of the lamps."
and "Mandrills to assist in placing the wicks. These
are in a conical form, except for a small part of their base,
which is cylindrical to receive the wick holder." And
last, in regard to trimming the wick, the keeper was directed
to lower the wick to its lowest point and, using the curved scissors,
to cut the upper edge even with the top of the burner in the
"neatest and most regular manner possible."
For more information click here:
At the top of that page you can access the rest of the
site by clicking on Back to Keepers Tools for a number
of interesting details regarding lighthouses.
1. See pages 62 and 63 in Brandy, Balloons, and Lamps
- Ami Argand, 1750-1803 by John J. Wolfe, copyright 1999,
published by the Southern Illinois University Press.