Before strike-anywhere matches and butane lighters were invented, lamps, candles and cigars were lit by transferring flame from the hearth by splints, tapers or spills. Spills are tightly rolled cylinders of paper made specifically for this purpose. They were often kept in spill vases on the fireplace mantel, ready for use. Today, antique spill holders are hot collectors’ items.
To make a spill, just take a square piece of paper and, starting at the lower left corner, tightly roll the paper along the diagonal to the upper right corner and apply a piece of Scotch tape to prevent the rolled spill from unwinding. For a neater result, wind the paper around a pencil.