Here is another What Is It? game from my Facebook page (@AToBVintage).
I posted this glass shoe with a note that this is not just a decorative object but it has 2 practical functions related to that unique sole design. Then I asked for guesses about what these are used for. Responses ranged from candy dish to something you drink out of – the proverbial champagne out of a glass slipper. ;D So what is it? Remember, I said it’s all about the sole. This is a combination match holder/match striker. You keep the matches in the shoe and you light it by striking the match on the rough sole – genius! That rough area is how you know whether you have a lighter or just a pretty shoe.
Creator: Many US and English glass companies. Many companies purchased molds from other companies that went out of business so you cannot always say exactly which company created some of them.
When: This example is 1880s but they were made into the 1900s as well.
The Rest of the Story: These were made for household use in a time when stoves had to be lit and smoking was de rigueur. There were no disposable pocket lighters back in the day and matches were in constant use so they needed to be handier than the back of the kitchen drawer.
Enter the shoe match holder/lighter, a decorative option with a practical purpose. My guess would be that as pocket lighters came into vogue (1930s – 1950s) and stoves no longer needed to be lit the household match holder became obsolete and the match holder shoe lost its rough sole and became a simple object d’art.
Value: For their age, these are an inexpensive collectible. Shoes such as the one above are the most common. Rarer forms such as this glass elephant wall hanger can be $30 and up.