My pencil collection consists of a variety of mechanical/propelling pencil designs, manufacturers, and materials used. Over time, I became more interested in the 19th century British manufacturers, primarily focussing on Sampson Mordan, but also selecting unique pieces from a wide variety of other makers. The acquisition of a few early American pieces has resulted in growing interest in this area of collecting as well.
While many of the pieces are not “museum quality”, part of the attraction for me has been those pieces that were clearly valued possessions by their early owner(s). In that context, some pieces show signs of wear, demonstrating that the owner enjoyed the use of the pencil on a regular basis, and for a significant period. The majority of the collection dates to the 1800’s. Considering that many of these pencils are almost 200 years old, every one of them would have an amazing story to share if they could.
A much smaller, but equally enjoyable, part of the collection includes a variety of 20th century pencils. The few Parker pencils in the collection are only a small fraction of the offerings that Parker sold during the 20th century. Their “Duofold” range has a timeless appeal to me as most are just as beautiful and functional today as they were the day they were made, 100 years ago. Many others obviously share this view as the classic Parker Duofold design of fountain pens and pencils is still being manufactured today. Novelty pencils of the 1940’s-1960’s have had a similar appeal. Most were advertising give-aways or souvenir-type pencils. Not particularly high quality, and not particularly expensive at the time, but each creative in their own way.
The collection of inkwells, ink bottles, and related accessories, is a more recent expansion to my existing pencil collection. I had a number of items in this category that I had accumulated over time as I purchased “lots” from auction houses, etc. That led to an interest in finding out more about writing related accessories, and a few years ago I purchased a restored antique writing slope that I now use on a regular basis. And all of that led to my current interest in inkwells & ink bottles.
I’m fascinated by the travel inkwells, likely for the same reason as victorian pencils. Unlike some of the gorgeous antique desktop inkwells and inkstands, the travel inkwells were designed to be more than just a pretty face. Travel inkwells had to be able to carry an adequate ink supply securely during the owner’s travels, whether that was by horse, carriage, ship, etc. without leaking. Ink bottles started to show up in the collection as a somewhat natural progression… I couldn’t resist the variety of ink suppliers, the creative bottle designs and bottle manufacturing processes, and the fact that these fragile clay and glass items have survived the test of time.
It is an evolving, eclectic, mix of writing equipment and related items that I’m thrilled to be the temporary custodian of, and hopefully one day they will pass to new custodians that will enjoy them as much as I have.