A few candles give any winter evening that magical, flickering glow. To complete the picture, keep a vintage snuffer at the ready.
The snuffer was said to have been developed by English innovator Christopher Pinchbeck, and patented in 1776. His device was pretty as it was practical: A snuffer could extinguish a burning flame and simultaneously prevent hot wax from splattering onto the tabletop as well as keep the room smoke-free.
Soon thereafter, a snuffer could be found in every home. It became so popular that the poem "Ode to Mr. Pinchbeck, Upon His Newly Invented Candle Snuffers" was penned by Malcolm MacGreggor.
Copper and pewter versions like these are easy to find at flea markets for just a few dollars (sterling silver ones are slightly pricier), and look pretty set on a mantel or coffee table, or hanging from a hook. Whimsical styles can spark conversation: Consider the musketeer helmet with sword (fifth from bottom right), an example of the novelty snuffers produced from the 1920s to midcentury; or the tiny horn (bottom left), which takes after a Colonial design. It would have sat on a matching chamber stick to guide people (clad in stocking caps, of course) from room to room at night — and was perfect for sneaking a glimpse of Old Saint Nick.
Feeling inspired to start a collection of your own? Watch here as Martha Stewart Living's collectibles expert Fritz Karch offers his tips for new collectors: