Prior to the advent of matches, spill vases were placed on mantels from which a stick or rolled paper would be lit from the fireplace and used to light candles, lamps or even pipes. Spill is derived from the Middle English word spille or small piece of wood. The earliest example of a spill vase goes back to the 1500s and they were commonly found in English homes in the 18th and 19th centuries.
While utilitarian in nature, spill vases were often highly decorative and made in various materials, including, brass, porcelain and pottery. Take this wonderful Staffordshire spill vase with its quaint country theme. The wonderful metaphorical composition of the cow and the calf next to the dead tree, which serves as the vase, is an excellent example of Victorian ornamental design. This and other fine spill vases can be found only at Mill House Antiques.
More than an ordinary experience.