Dating old ink bottles

The bottle design was taken from a Colonial American era apothecary jar and was executed in heavy pottery, reminiscent of Early American Colonial dishware.

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The first inkwells were probably just fist-sized stones with depressions in them, offering scribes a natural container in which to mix powdered pigments with various types of solvents for their quills and other primitive dipping pens.

As the art of writing advanced, soapstone, onyx, and marble were cut and carved into elaborate vessels for ink.

Ink was first used about 2500BC in Ancient Egypt and China.

The modern day digger / collector soon comes to realise that our Victorian forebearers spent most of their time either drinking (nothing wrong with that), cleaning house or writing letters..observation is based on what one might find on a typical "dig".

This picture taken during July 2004 shows the better specimens of my ink collection it also shows what a pleasant and interesting display even a small collection can make.

Let us look at the collection again in a year or so. The one on the left was dug in Mossel Bay, the one in the center, bearing a diamond registration mark, was bought from a British dealer (not one of those mentioned below) who unfortunately did not realise that it had been damaged and the neck ground down; it should have a neck as long as the bottle next to it, an extremely rare ice blue version.

Scribe cases were often made of cast brass that had been chased, incised, or enameled.

Lids for the inkwell part of the case were usually hinged while the covers at the end of the pen holder were typically press-fitted.

Designers went to great lengths to prevent the ink inside their travel wells from leaking.

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