This is a wonderful and quite unusual example of an early traveling inkwell. It is made of metal, in the shape of a steep roofed house. The covering, we believe, is faux alligator skin. A button in the front, when pressed, opens the roof of the house to reveal another lid. This one has a spring loaded mechanism that opens with a latch at the side. The ink bottle is underneath. The inside of the lid has a spring which is covered with a leather pad that fits tightly against the top of the ink bottle.

Figural traveling inkwells were made as novelties in the late 1800s and very early 1900s. Not only were they fun conversation pieces, but they were made to be used while traveling on ships or in bumpy carriages as their closure mechanisms kept ink from spilling. This little house is a terrific and fun example of early traveling writing equipment.

SIZE: Height to the top of the roof peak is 2 3/4 inches. The base measures 2 inches by 2 inches.

CONDITION: Condition is very good to excellent, especially considering its 100 plus years of age. The covering is completely intact, with a bit of wear on the corners. Both lid mechanisms are tight and work well. The ink bottle has a couple of small nicks on the outside edges but is otherwise in great condition. There is ink staining the inside of the bottle as well as the leather pad on the lid. We’ve left the ink stains as many collectors appreciate signs of use.


Artful Toys and Antiques

Figural House Shaped Traveling Inkwell, Early 1900s


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since 2006

Artful Toys and Antiques

Philip Lepley and Barbara Bureker
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