• Steve Gould

Deep Dive: Exploring the Exhibits

Night Candle (ca. 1869)

This is a Night Candle developed by Johann Gottlob August Glafey, circa 1869.


In the age before electricity, flames provided the only source of light at night. Although affordable candles became available during the late 19th century with the development of mechanized production, keeping a candle lit all night was expensive. It could also be very dangerous. Even today an unattended candle is a fire hazard. To provide an affordable and safe night light, Johann Gottlob August Glafey (born January 17, 1845) developed the Night Candle. These inexpensive tiny candle wicks were mounted on a piece of cork that floated on water. Once the wick burned down, the flame would be extinguished. Glafey sold these Night Candles at his night light shop in Nuremberg, Germany, which opened in 1869. The contents of the small 3” long wooden box included multiple cork mounted candle wicks, a three padded cork and metal float to mount the candles, and a handy pair of tweezers.

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