Exceptional antique Victorian era Boulle style double inkwell, inkstand or "standish", beautifully ornate reticulated genuine mother of pearl inlays throughout set in a jet black ebony or ebonized wood with locking stationery drawer, two gorgeous & huge cut crystal inkwells and fabulous condition! I'm currently working on getting a few truly superb old French boulle pieces listed so watch over the next week or so. This one not actually "Boulle" but the style of inlay is superb and quite unique in that the inlays are shimmering mother of pearl set in that very Victorian black wood. The contrast is stunning! The inkwells themselves are also superb, huge and heavy with a beautiful shape and deep wheel cut decoration & facet cut tops. Amazing attention to detail and beautifully preserved, obviously cherished works of a true French or English master!
The earliest that we can date the conception of the inkwell is with the Ancient Egyptians, where members of wealthy or upper-class families hired scribes to write for them. These scribes used small ink palettes housed in pieces of stone with round hollows for each separate colour of ink. Over time, these palettes became larger pieces of stone or clay, and gradually were developed into being containers when a stopper was added to protect and add to the longevity of the ink. In Europe, prior to the sixteenth century, a scribe or scrivener would correspond using a quill pen and ink on behalf of aristocracy, as writing was considered to be a lowly task. As the art of writing traveled across the world animal horns began to be used as the material for making ink containers. To begin with, these inkwells were fairly basic and designed purely for purpose, with little ornamentation. The decorative inkwells were introduced during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Gold and silver inkwells began to make an appearance. During the Baroque period, excessive ornamentation was common throughout Western Europe, as was the fashion within most silverware, jewellery and clothing at this time. The inkwell was then further developed as the portable inkwell was devised around the time of the American Civil war, so that soldiers could carry them easily and write their correspondence from the battlefield. Affluent travelers used inkwells specifically designed to be compact, housed within boxes which also held other writing equipment such as quills, ink, paste papers (used to seal letters) and a sander (to hold a fine sand, sprinkled to prevent ink smearing), medications and toiletries. Such boxes were known as compendiums. The invention of the typewriter in the 1870s spelled the demise of the inkwell, along with the first fully functional and reliable fountain pen being patented by Lewis Waterman in 1884. With increasingly practical fountain pens increasingly being produced in the twentieth century, the demand for inkwells fell to the point of obscurity, now being regarded as a rarity which is only owned by collectors. This set being a stellar example of the opulence of some writing related pieces, exceptional in every way and they really do make the finest decorative accents! Enjoy!
Very good to excellent condition! There is a small split and veneer chip on the upper edge, rear right corner and a bit of the ebony finish worn on the front right corner. There is a veneer split in the top center, running from inkwell to inkwell where the center handle is attached. The center stamps compartment lid is faintly warped but still fits in just fine. Also, there are a few smallish chips to the bottoms of the inkwells. Working lock with old skeleton key also. See pictures for all measurements.