Inkwells, Inkpots, Inkstands

From old clay ink jugs to ornate desktop inkstands their purpose was the same - a place to hold ink until needed. The breadth of designs utilized to accomplish that simple purpose is quite astounding. Most of these examples are from mid-1800's through early 1900's.

NOTE: You can click on any image to view it in full size. 

Asprey Travel Inkwell

Nice black leather inkwell with no damage. Larger, box shape. Swingarm lock on side plus button mechanism to open; both working fine. Glass insert in perfect condition; still has cork in neck.

 

"Asprey London"

Asprey Travel Inkwell

Glass travel inkwell with sterling silver fittings. Sterling initials on lid (maybe CEWP). Inside of lid has a cork seal and sterling plate indicating Asprey, 166 New Bond Street. No damage to glass or silver.

 

"CA GA" & full hallmarks for London, 1896 on silver rim (Charles Asprey, George Asprey). Asprey name plate with 166 New Bond Street adress inside lid.

Travel Inkwell - Austria

Spherical pewter or aluminum casing with nice engraving all round the top and bottom. Inside appears to be brass. All in working order and excellent condition.

 

"Vienna Make"

"Basalt" Inkwell

Early 1800’s inkwell in similar style to the Wedgwood Basalt inkwell. Josiah Wedgwood came up with the pure black porcelain by adding manganese to the process and named it Basalt. Other potters soon copied the newly popular method. This one has two quill holders plus main opening and additionl opening with original plug (plug appears to be of matching porcelain material). One tiny knick along top edge. Base imprinted with #3; no maker name although I found references to both “Dudson” & “Robert Wilson” pottery inkwells that were blue (similar to Wedgwood blue as well) that had the same imprinted “3”. 

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Levi Salaman

Tiny sterling silver inkwell in the shape of a bell. Made by Levi & Salaman, Birmingham, 1909. Some tiny dings but nothing serious. Silver is very thin and inkwell seems quite delicate. Glass insert is intact.

 

Hallmarked for Levi Salaman, Birmingham, 1909

Berry's Patent

Nice black leather with no damage. Box shape. Button mechanism to open; both working fine. Glass insert in very good condition.

 

 

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Berry's Patent

Travel inkwell and vesta set. The leather on both is in excellent condition. Travelling inkwells and vestas were often sold as sets as people also needed matches to light the candles in order to see while writing. These would be c1850-1860. Berry was producing travelling inkwells as early as 1832 and this ad from a Glasgow Stationer in 1853 references Berry's Ink & Lights items specifically - “Pocket Guide Through Glasgow” - part of a travel series by John Menzie’s - “Milne's Wellington Despatch Box - Lined Cape Morocco throughout Russia or Turkey Morocco outside fitted with foolscap Writing Portfolio in head large tray, Berry's Patent Ink and Lights, Stationery of kinds, Cutlery, Silver Penholder &c, with Bramah's spring lock and Travelling Cover. Price 5pounds 5s complete. Professional and Military Gentlemen and all who require much space for Documents Private Papers &c, combined with a Writing Case will find this Despatch Box the best article they can have.”

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Coventry/Keene

Early American centre hole pattern molded inkwell; style is referred to as a "Pitkin" style inkwell. A similar patterned inkwell found online was attributed to Coventry Glassworks, Connecticut, dating from approx. 1780-1830. Pattern molding was a process of forming a basic design pattern (typically ribs) on an expanding gob of glass via a dip mold with an engraved design. Several regional glasshouses existed at the time, including Pitkin Glassworks, Coventry Glassworks, and Keene. This one is believed to be from Conventry Glass Works.  This ink was blown in a three-piece leaf mold, has a blow-pipe pontil scar on the base, is 1.5" tall and 2.25"cm in diameter, and has a flattened "disk" type finish (like the Pitkin inkwell above) surrounding the central bore that was formed with simple glassmaker tools.  The body design is referred to as a "geometric" pattern which was a molded take-off or loose imitation of English or Irish cut glassware of the period. Excellent condition with no chips or cracks. Colour is the more common amber (rarer ones are green hues). Base shows some rubbing from 200 years of sitting on desks/shelves. 

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Coventry/Keene

Early American centre hold pattern molded inkwell. This one is attributed to Keene, NH. 1.5” tall and 2.25"cm in diameter, and has a flattened "disk" type finish surrounding the central bore. In excllent condition with no chips or cracks. Small “leak” of glass at the mold seam (not damage, just a minor flaw in production). The colour is the rarer green hue. Base shows normal rubbing from sitting on desks/shelves.

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Travel Inkwell

Burgundy leather with no damage. Square shape. Engraving on copper inside of inkwell. Button mechanism to open and spring loaded cap on bottle; both working fine. Glass insert in very good condition; a couple of tiny chips along glass rim. 

 

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Caricature Inkwell

Staffordshire, possibly New Hall Porcelain Factory Caricature Portrait Inkwell. A variety of different "heads" were made; most dating to 1820-1850. In excellent shape. Minor wear.

 

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Caricature Inkwell - Souter Johnnie

Rare salt glaze inkwell in the form of Souter Johnnie, the character made famous in the Robert Burns poem - Tam O’Shanter (1790). Souter Johnnie was Tam’s drinking buddy. A “souter” is a cobbler/shoemaker. These little inkwells date to the late 1800’s. Excellent condition.


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Crowned Lion

Large inkwell in the shape of a standing lion holding a shield/crest and wearing a crown. It has a UK registration lozenge stamped to the rear but it is impossible read the date. Unsure of the metal. Some of it polishes and some does not. It isn’t magnetic. One that is identical was found online and stamped “Mappin & Webb” although this one does not have any additional markings other than the registration lozenge. Good overall condition; no major damage, just a couple of little dings around the base. Small porcelain ink cup is intact. Since the registration lozenge was not used after 1883, this inkwell is at least that old. 

Registration lozenge indicating 1883 or earlier.

Travel Inkwell - Double

Rare example of a double travelling inkwell that also includes a pen wipe and a flip-up candle. Not sure if this one was ever used as there is no ink residue in the bottles, the pen wipe is clean, and the candle is still present and appears to have never been lit. All mechanisms are in perfect working order. The leather cover shows only minor wear. Internal inkwell release clips are both stamped “K.K. Priv.” which indicates the Austro-Hungarian empire period of 1867-1918.

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Travel Inkwell - "Churchill Hat"

Travel inkwell in a fedora form known as a "Churchill Hat". Good used condition with some ink stains and a bit of shrinkage of the leather but still a very good piece. All trim is brass. Original bottle is present. Mechanisms all working fine. Early 20th century.

 

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Inkwell - Curling Stone

Interesting little inkwell in the form of a curling stone. Appears to be made of some form of earthenware. The lid is a little loose but still connected well. It once was silver plated but most of the plating is gone. No chips or cracks. Purchased from Scotland … of course.

 

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Finnigans

Finnigans travel inkwell & vesta. Finnigans was a high end leather goods retailer (mostly trunks, suitcases, purses) with their main office in Manchester. They opened on Bond Street in London at the turn of the 20th century, making this pair early 1900’s vintage. Used but not abused; some ink stains. Leather is in good condition, with no tears. The ink bottle is present and the inkwell has the extra latch similar to Asprey and other quality travel inkwells. The vesta has a striker plate and a double storage area, 1 for unused matches and another for used. 

“Finnigans New Bond St W"

Clown "Pierrot" Inkwell

Early 20th century; made in France. Excellent condition. Unknown marking for artist/maker. “JX4M”?? No chips or cracks.

 

 

"JX4M"

Travel Inkwell - Umbrella/Top Hat

Souvenir quality travel inkwell containing a hidden, sealed ink bottle, along with a dip pen hidden inside the umbrella handle. The top of the hat comes off to reveal the ink bottle which has a screw cap. Glass bottle is intact. The cane handle pulls out and become a dip pen. Some of these contain both a pen and a pencil; this one was designed to just have a pen. Made of painted metal. Quite a bit of paint loss but no significant damage and no dents. These were not high quality items in their time but their rarity makes them much more valuable today. 

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Heintz

Heintz early 20th century arts & crafts era inkwell. Simple silver detail on bronze. Glass insert intact and in perfect condition. Heintz Art Metal Shop was located in Buffalo and in 1912 he perfected a way to apply sterling silver to bronze without the use of solder; hence the patent date on his pieces. His shop fabricated many different designs and products that are now a sought after collectible. 

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Heintz

Heintz early 20th century arts & crafts era inkwell. Silver on bronze. Glass insert intact and in good condition. Small ding on the lid but is otherwise in very good condition.

 

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Bascule Encrier

Porcelain snail inkwell; made in France. “Bascule Encrier” translates to “Rocker Inkwell”. Late 19th century. Not sure of maker “J L”. No chips or damage to porcelain or brass fittings. Approx. 5.5” in diameter and 3.5” high.

 

"Bascule Encrier"

"J.L."

Satsuma - Meiji

Large porcelain inkwell, with original ceramic pot insert. Believed to be Japanese. No damage. Each side depicts a different scene - various samurai figures on 3 sides and a crane in flight on the 4th side. Lid has 3 samurai figures. Brass fittings. Markings on the base which I haven’t been able to identify (ie. unknown make). Age is likely later 19th or early 20th century. Have come across a couple of almost identical versions with slightly different characters that were identified as “Satsuma - Meiji Period" inkpots. So far unable to confirm accuracy of those references.

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Brass Inkwell

Heavy (1kg) brass inkwell. Glass insert intact. Registration lozenge indicates date of 1858. “7 LB” is stamped on the front. Have seen a few others similar, one that had “4 LB” on it and another that was also 7 LB and had scrollwork engraving on it. One reference found indicates that this type of inkwell was made from old “horse tethers”. The reins would be looped through the ring and the weight would be enough to keep the horse still. Perhaps; or they were simply made in a similar shape. 

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Sampson Mordan

Solid silver travel inkwell by Sampson Mordan. Hallmarked for London 1902. In mint condition. A fine Edwardian Sterling silver travelling inkwell with floral engraved decoration. It has a "twist and lift" lid with glass inkwell inside. Weighs 85 grams excluding the glass inkwell.

 

 

Hallmarked S. Mordan, 1902

Sampson Mordan

Mordan wooden travel inkwell. This is the first Mordan wooden barrel inkwell that I have come across (actually it is the only Mordan product of any kind, made of wood, and marked, that I have seen). “Mordan & Co Makers” was the company name S. Mordan used between 1845 & 1860. This inkwell was turned out of what looks like Rosewood. The lid on this has split (not uncommon with wooden inkwells due to moisture from the ink over time) and it was repaired with wire many decades ago. No damage to base. The lid connects with a twist/lock mechanism (same as on my silver Mordan inkwell that is 50 years newer). There is a threaded wooden “washer” holding the bottle in place (see last photo). The washer is still fine as is the tiny ink bottle.

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Williams's Ink Pot

Rare Williams's Ink Pot - White. All 3 Williams's in my collection were owned by a UK collector for 30 years +. There is apparently a fourth colour - green. Very few WIlliams’s of any colour are known to exist. Red and green versions are the rarest, with at least two differing versions in black with gold banding, one with 'Jarrold lowestoft' on it being the more common version. White has black lettering while all coloured versions have gold banding and gold lettering. Registration # dates the design to early 1899. Pot is chip and crack free; a small chip out of the screw portion of the cap. Glaze is crackled as is normal. 4" tall and 3 1/2" wide.

Williams’s Ink Pot Rd. No. 331808

Williams's Ink Pot

Rare Williams's Ink Pot - Red. Registration # dates the design to early 1899. Pot is chip and crack free; a small chip out of the screw portion of the cap. Glaze is crackled as is normal. 4" tall and 3 1/2" wide.

 

 

Williams’s Ink Pot Rd. No. 331808

Williams's Ink Pot

Rare Williams's Ink Pot - Black. Registration # dates the design to early 1899. Pot and cap are chip and crack free. Glaze is crackled as is normal. 4" tall and 3 1/2" wide.

 

 

Williams’s Ink Pot Rd. No. 331808

Pewter Travel Ink Pot 

Likely 18th century or earlier travel ink pot. Quite heavy for its size, indicating early, heavy lead, pewter. From it’s composition, design, and overall quality, I am guessing that it is late 17th or 18th century. Well used and still full of dried ink. Screw lid with leather pad on inside to seal the inkpot while not in use. An interesting, rare, item that I'd like to find out more about.

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Shagreen Travel Inkwell

Shagreen leather travel inkwell in excellent condition. Button to open casing. All trim is brass. Original bottle is present. Mechanisms all working fine. Mid-late 19th century.

 

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Shagreen Travel Inkwell

Shagreen leather travel inkwell. Nice oval shape. Engraving on inside of inkwell. Button mechanism to open. Spring loaded cap missing leather cover. Glass insert in very good condition. Mid-late 19th century.


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Hat Box Travel Inkwell

Leather travel inkwell in hat box form. Virtually no wear to leather cover and interior is near perfect as well with what appears to have been only mimimal use. All trim is brass. Original bottle is present. Mechanisms all working fine. Mid-late 19th century.

 

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Travel Inkwell

Leather travel inkwell with brass trim. All intact, including glass insert and spring/cap seal. A little larger than some of the other travel inkwells.

 

 

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Travel Inkwell

Leather travel inkwell, larger box shape. Small brass handle on top. Minimal leather loss on back of casing. Internals seem to be chrome or plating of some sort. Contains original bottle. Was told (unverified) that the crescent moon/star marking on the push button is indicative of John Collard Vickery maker.

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Porcelain Inkwell

Hand painted porcelain inkwell; early 20th century. Excellent condition. Unkown artist/maker. No chips or cracks on main inkwell. Porcelain cup insert has repaired rim. Bottom has imprint “103 1/2” but no other markings.

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Ranleigh Inkstand

Ranleigh Art Deco Inkwell. Nice example of 1920’s/30’s art deco inkwell. Made by “Ranleigh”. Near mint condition. Chrome is in excellent condition. Both ink pots (red & black) are plastic or celluloid and in perfect condition. Spring loaded covers over each inkwell. Reminiscent of the 50’s Chevy styling. Black glass base; no chips or cracks. Ranleigh stamp on both chrome fittings. 6” x 9”.

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Pewter Inkwell

Pewter inkwell; late 18th/early 19th century. Fairly primitive construction but solidly built. Two drawers. The original inkpot is missing. Early cube inkwells are fairly rare but I have also seen them from 19th century american makers. No makers mark.

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1893 Chicago Columbian Expo Inkwell

Souvenir inkwell from the 1893 Chicago Columbian Expo, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival. Fashioned as a stack of gold coins, with Columbus’s bust on top, along with “Christopher Columbus Chicago, USA, 1492 1892". Excellent condition considering these were cheap souvenirs, made of low quality metal and covered in some form of gold gilt. No dents, the gilt is near perfect, the bottle is original and in perfect condition. The Chicago Expo opened in May, 1893 and attracted 26 million visitors in just 6 months. A Pittsburgh steel magnate - George Ferris, debuted his 264 ft. “Ferris” wheel here; Pabst Blue Ribbon was also debuted here, as were the dishwasher and flourescent light bulbs.

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Sampson Mordan 

Fine example of a Mordan solid brass travel inkwell. It is in excllent condition. The rubber or cork stopper is missing but the bottle is fine, the button opening mechanism is working, and there are only a couple of tiny dings to the body. It measures 2" square, and is 1.75" high. Beaded brass ring surrounds the inner ink bottle.

 

S Mordan & Co London

Doulton Isobath Inkwell

Gorgeous example of the Doulton isobath inkwell; made for Thomas De La Rue company, around 1890. The hinged inner rubber hemisphere controls the ink level to the dipping spout. One of the scallopped edge is chipped (not noticeable unless you look for it), and the dipping spout hinged lid is missing; otherwise it is perfect. These were made between about 1880 and 1900.

 

Doulton markings, plus De La Rue imprint, and artist's marks

Perryian Gravitating Inkstand

Interesting mid-victorian inkstand by Perry & Co, London. Adverts of the period show this exact inkstand as being available as early as 1842. The ceramic cylinder rolls open for use, and then rolls up to close off and reduce evaporation. There is a small slide under the cylinder that can be pushed in to “lock” the cylinder in the up position. The quality is not very high (thin brass, it looks like lead was added to the base during production to give it some weight) but it is a great looking piece, quite unique, and in perfect condition.

Patent Perryian Gravitating Inkstand

Perry & Co London

Perry Inkwell

Perry & Co. patent office inkwell from about 1880 (advertised in their 1882 Illustrated Price Guide). In near mint condition.

 

 

 

Perry & Co. Patent Inkstand London, Brussels, Asmterdam, Frankfurt and New York

Heart Travel Inkwell

Excellent condition. Very little wear to leather; no tears. Interior is near perfect as well with what appears to have been only mimimal use. All trim is brass. Original bottle is present. Mechanisms all working fine. Late 19th/early 20th century. 2.25" x 1.5"h

 

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Wedgwood Basalt Inkwell

Nice late 1700’s-early 1800’s Wedgwood inkwell. Two quill holders plus main opening and additional opening into main ink area. . The base has the WEGDWOOD imprint plus additional info. This is a tiny one - just 2.0" in diameter and slightly over 1" high.

 

 

"WEDGWOOD"

"3"

"DWS"

Snail Inkwell - Symbols

Very nice porcelain snail inkwell. Late 19th century. No maker’s mark or indication of origin although likely french. No chips or damage to porcelain or brass fittings. Slight wear to portions of the gilding. Approx. 5.5” in diameter and 3.5” high.

 

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G.E. Hatch - Glass Inkwell

This is a great find, as subsequent to the purchase I was able to find the original design patent for this inkwell online. The inkwell is in perfect condition; no chips to glass or other damage. A tiny bit of ink residue remains in the dip hole. George Hatch filed a design patent for this inkwell on December 7, 1875 (the inkwell indicates December 27, 1875 and I'm not sure of the reason for the date mis-match). Design patent # 8,831. The design is a representation of a pear & leaves, connected by its stem to the inkwell opening, which is in the form of a knot in the branch. Appears to have an open pontil base, suggesting it was blown in a mold. The pen holders are solid silver “branches” with leaves forming the pen rests. Hatch worked for the Meriden Glass Co. in Connecticut.

G.E. HATCH PAT'D. DEC. 27, 1875

Charles Rawlings & William Summers - Travel Inkwell

A superb example of a quality travelling inkwell by Charles Rawlings & Wm. Summers. It has crisp engine turning to the top along with an equally crisp cut glass hobnail base. Fully hallmarked for London 1831 with William IV's head.

The inner leather gasket has perished over the years (as was often the case) and there is a tiny chip to the base. Beautiful condition; 1.5" in diameter and 1.5" high.

"CR" over "WS"

Hallmarked for London, 1831

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