How to Identify an Antique Brass Candle

Updated April 17, 2017

An antique brass candle is a single candle holder made from old brass. These types of brass candlestick were made in the 18th and 19th centuries. The candles were made to be carried by a base with a rounded finger-handle on one side. They were used at night for walking around, or sometimes kept by a bed for reading. There are also large single antique brass candlesticks that are decorative in shape. Brass candlesticks conveyed status and were generally used by the wealthy who could afford them.

Notice the colour of the candlestick. Antique brass candlesticks are a mellow, yellow gold colour. Check to see if there is a patina on the candlestick. If so, the candlestick may actually be bronze, not brass. Antique candlesticks were made in such a way that the brass hardly tarnished.

Look at the stick to see if it has a silver colour. Sometimes brass candlesticks were coated with a thin layer of silver, giving the stick a luxurious look. Take a soft cloth and a small amount of brass cleaner. Sometimes patina may interfere with the true brass colour underneath, and patina may indeed form on un-lacquered brass. Look for any greyish-blue areas.

Place a small amount of brass cleaner on a soft white cloth and rub onto the brass candlestick until the patina lifts and the golden colour of the brass shines through. Do not over-rub with cleaner. Modern-day brass is made up of alloys containing copper and zinc. Brass cleaner may be a bit too caustic on antique brass.

Examine the candlestick bottom after cleaning with brass cleaner. Metals other than brass may have an inferior bottom, which is not the norm on antique brass, which is solid throughout. The brass may be plated, and this would also indicate a newer candlestick, not an antique. Bronze will have a ruddy red or dark copper appearance, not yellow gold like on antique brass.

Feel the shape of the base. A rounded base is indicative of an antique candlestick. Candlesticks from the olden days were made by hand, and hollowed out underneath during the moulding process, forming the rounded shape on the bottom.

Check the sides of the candlestick, especially the stem area. Look for seam marks. A seamed stem on a candlestick will look like a long line. The line should run the duration of the stick. This is the section on the candlestick that was soldered together. Other parts of an antique brass candlestick that may show seam lines are the wax pan, nozzle, sconce, capital, shoulder, stem, column, knop, well and base. Check the candlestick on the side for ejectors or push-up rods too. This would indicate a candlestick dating from the 18th or 19th century.

Things You'll Need

  • Magnifying glass
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About the Author

Linda Stamberger began writing professionally in 1994, as an entertainment reporter for "Good Times Magazine." She has written online copy for The Volusia Community website and is the author of "Antiquing in Florida." Stamberger studied creative writing at Southampton College, where she won a partial writing scholarship.