The History of Vintage Candle Holders

There’s something about candlestick holders that adds the perfect ambiance to any space. It creates an intimate atmosphere that allows you to relax and enjoy yourself. Adding candles to your decor can be difficult due to their potential fire hazards. Over the years, many alternatives have been created to allow people to enjoy candles.

Here, we explore the history of vintage candle holders through various centuries.

The Mysterious History of Vintage Candle Holders: Different Phases

Antiquity – The Earliest Candle Holders

The vintage candle holders can be anything from a simple jar with a small opening on top to elaborate metal holders. They have been around for centuries and have evolved. The earliest recorded mention of a candle holder was from 1699 in England. At that time, the term ‘candlestick’ was used for the first time to refer to an object that held candles.

clear vintage candle holders

Candles became widespread in Europe during the 18th Century. Soon after this, many objects were explicitly designed as candle holders. The most common form of candlestick today is the taper candlestick. It has developed into its current form since it was invented by Jeremiah Colman around 1780.

Candles Became Widespread in Europe During the 18th Century

Soon after this, many objects were explicitly designed as candlestick holders. The most common form of candlestick today is the taper candlestick. It has developed into its current form since it was invented by Jeremiah Colman around 1780. These days, all sorts of candlesticks are available, from candelabras to vintage candle holders. Whatever you choose, your candlestick will illuminate your home with warmth and style.

The Middle Ages – Brass and Iron Candle Holders

Vintage candle holders were initially made from brass or iron. These types of candlesticks were more common in the middle ages. They served a practical purpose as well. If a candle were left unattended, the heat from the flame would create soot on the wall above it. It was unsightly and difficult to clean up. Therefore, vintage candle holders helped prevent this by raising the candle away from the surface.

However, this design also prevented people from seeing how much wax had been consumed. As such, many people would cut into their candles with a knife to check how much was left.

Medieval Candlesticks

In medieval times, if someone wanted to light a candle in their home, there was no easy way to do it. Instead of using an electric lighter or matchstick, people had to use something else.

People began hollowing out small pieces of wood and carving holes in the top to solve this problem. That way, they could push the long wick into one end, so it didn’t drip onto their hands or clothes while trying to light it up!

vintage candle holders candlesticks

These wooden objects became known as candlesticks. Then they helped make things easier by putting a handle on the lit item so people could keep them steady.

Colonial American Candlesticks

Candles were an essential part of the household in colonial America. Many families have two candelabras. One candelabra might be on the table for general use, and one might be on a sideboard or mantelpiece. Vintage candle holders were also sometimes used to hold up oil lamps. Early colonists often referred to them as light sticks. Today, these antique candlesticks can be found at auctions and antique stores. But in the late 1800s, this tradition changed when gas lights became famous.

And when they did, people started using modern candle holders. What was once made from wrought iron was now made from metal tubing that could hold more candles. They quickly became a symbol of wealth and prosperity due to their new popularity.

The Renaissance – Silver and Gold Candle Holders

During the Renaissance, candlesticks were made from silver or gold. They served as decorative pieces in their homes. Candles would often be placed on top of these candlesticks during celebrations.  A popular tradition was to place lit candles in churches on New Year’s Eve. The burning flame represented hope for brighter days ahead. And the flickering light symbolized new life entering the world. During this time, many people believed that the spirits of their loved ones visited them on New Year’s Eve.

vintage candle holders

To welcome them home, it was common practice to leave an empty chair at the table set for one person. Some households left bowls of milk outside the door so that animals could drink. It was also a custom to eat black-eyed peas and cornbread on New Year’s Day for good luck.

The Victorian Era – Decorative Candle Holders

In the Victorian Era, candle holders were often made with brass or silver. This is because these metals were more expensive. The candelabrum was the most popular candle holder used during this time. This type of holder could be made from three to five candles on a stem. These stems were decorated with flowers. They also had a long handle with a decorative knob to carry around easily.

Other popular candle holders during this era included candelabras. It looked like chandeliers but held candles instead of light bulbs and tapers. They were long thin strips that lit a room when electricity hadn’t been invented yet.

Most vintage candle holders were not highly decorated. This is because they needed to serve their original purpose. However, you can find some examples of elaborate ones that had paintings on them.

Modern Day – Candle Holders for Every Occasion

Candle holders have come a long way from when they were used for lighting candles. Today, many candle holders can be used as part of various home décor styles. A simple search for candle holders on Etsy and Amazon yields over 1 million results.

From modern designs to vintage bronze pieces, we’re sure you’ll find what suits your needs. While some prefer traditional pillar candles, others prefer a more unconventional light source.

Christmas tree vintage candle holders

No matter which style of vintage candle holders is best for you, one thing is sure: You’ll be able to create an elegant ambiance with them.


Vintage candle holders have been used for centuries, from the Romans to today. And while they may seem like a simple item, there is much more to their history than meets the eye.

Early candle holders were made out of different kinds of rock and earthenware, and even out of bones! However, as time passed, vintage candle holders became more sophisticated and elegant in their style.

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