Round 2: Can You Guess the History Mystery Object?

Researched and written by Rachel Rabinowitz, Collections Manager and Visitor Services Coordinator, Claire Goode, Living History Specialist, and Teresa Marcus, Community Engagement Coordinator


Guess what the mysterious object from our collections is and learn the truth behind it. This is the second in a new series of short videos focusing on our historic collections. See the first one here.


Spoiler Alert! The Answer is Below


The video features what's called a rushlight.


A rushlight is a less expensive alternative to candles, as beeswax was expensive and those made from beef tallow turn rancid after a short time. Ours is made of iron and holds a rush—the inner part of a common plant that grows by waterways, the rush is then dipped in melted fat (typically leftover cooking grease) multiple times and then left to set. Unfortunately, like the beef tallow candles, burning kitchen grease is another unpleasant smell and dripping, burning hot fat is never a recipe for success. These lights do allow for repurposing of an abundance of cooking grease into a cheap lighting alternative, especially if the household using them rears pigs in any way.


Holder, Rushlight (1974.04.03)- Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lew Coit


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