Period Reproductions and Restorations

Rouge Can

Rouge Can

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.


JP - Tinsmith
Joel Paradis
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