Brothel candles were used extensively in European brothels between 1880 and 1905 CE. They were also popular in the Western United States during the Gold Rush years. A brothel candle burned for approximately seven minutes. When the candle went out, you were done (even if you weren’t, technically, done). Some ladies would trim the candles down, so they’d burn for even less time.
In the above tweet shared by the user namely ‘Creepy.org’ there was an image of a box displayed with a lady’s picture on it. On top of the box, we can see a pale white small candle placed in a hole made in the box. This post got a whopping 98.9K likes. The user went on to claim that these are called ‘Brothel candles’ which were extensively used in European brothels between the timeline of 1880-1905 CE.
These circa 1900 brothel candles were used as timers.. when the candle melted, the session ended 🕯️ pic.twitter.com/RrnzmBWcvT
— The Thanatos Archive 💀⚰️ (@ThanatosArchive) May 25, 2023
The user went on to add that, these candles were popular in the western US during the Gold Rush years and these brothel candles burned exactly for seven minutes. Also, the claim says, that when the candle went out, the session was over. Some ladies will trim these candles in order to cut down the time. This same post was shared on social media with similar claims can be seen here and here. Come let’s check this naughty claim.
What’s the truth?
When we started our research using the relevant keywords we found that the candles are real but there is no proof or evidence at all for them being used as naughty timers in brothels.
When we advanced our search it led us to a French book which has the reference to “Bougies de poche anglaise” in the 1867 French book “Le dernier mot de Rocambole”, so in France, they knew them as English pocket candles, but the book also says that they only burned for 3 minutes.
Here “Bougies de poche” means pocket candles, that is tiny wax candles in a sort of matchbox that you would light and place in the little hole in the box so you would have a temporary light for when you didn’t have an oil or gas lamp nearby. Some had a phosphorus-dipped tip so they could be lit like a matchstick.
We also got a piece of evidence from the Deutsches Historisches Museum from their X account where they have told that there are other pictures also.
Since brothel candles get a lot more attention than pocket candles, so maybe that’s how the fake history began, with someone making up a story to sell something so normal or regular with a spicy backstory.
Thus we conclude with the above available evidence that these were tiny candles used when you need a bit of light than a single match but not in a mood to use a big candle or light a lamp.
Also, there is no solid evidence to prove that the candles were used in brothels other than it’s a made-up story to sell something ordinary.