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Show Us Your...Inkwells

Discussion in 'The Display Case' started by Widebrim, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. As far as I know, there is no inkwell thread on this forum, and since inkwells were an integral part of most peoples' lives during the Golden Era, let's start one.

    20th century, institutional (common/public use) inkwells were produced by many different companies, some of the more famous being Esterbrook, Morriset, Sengbusch, Fount-O-Ink, and Carter's. Materials used included metal, bakelite, plastic, ceramic, and glass, and they came in just about every price range. They were found in classrooms, home desks, banks, offices, post offices (officially until 1957), on ships, on military field desks, and almost everywhere else. Some had to have the ink poured into them, whereas some used bottles of ink screwed into the base. What gives an inkwell a foot up on a fountain pen is the ink supply; depending on one's writing habits, an inkwell could go far longer without re-filling than a fountain pen (the latter's advantage being its portability.) As far as I know, the last American inkwells were produced in the early-1960s, although their termination date might have been later in other countries. (As late as the end of the 1970s, at least here in the L.A. area, you could still find NOS inkwells languishing in stationery stores.)

    So, what inkwells do you have do show off? I'll begin with one that I currently have on top of my classroom desk:


    This is a Fount-O-Ink inkwell, produced around 1940 (it has a South African patent date of 1939), in the city of Los Angeles. The company existed from at least the late-1930s until at least the mid-1950s (I found a mid-'50s, high-end NOS model in a stationery shop in the late '70s). As can be seen, the bottle was screwed into the base, so one had to either buy a new bottle of the company's ink, or use a small funnel to pour the new ink into the used bottle. The base is heavy ceramic, whereas the bottle cover appears to be celluloid in nature. Utilitarian, but still nice-looking.
  2. I have a glass and nickel (i think it's nickel) inkwell on my desk which I use fairly regularly.

    Photos to come.
  3. Dueling Morrisets.


    Bert M. Morris Co. of Los Angeles produced literally thousands of these Model Bs from around 1940 until about the early 1950s. With the Model B you had to use the company's ink bottle inside the well, but the inkwell came with a small funnel which could be used to pour any brand ink. (My first inkwell was a red Morriset, which I still have.) In addition, the nibs were replaceable, a feature shared with Esterbrook pens holders. Model Bs often appear in vintage movies.
  4. Get a move on it, Shangas. I'd like to see that inkwell. :D
  5. Highlander

    Highlander A-List Customer

    Well, here is one of the inkwells I have: [​IMG]
  6. ^^Very nice pressed glass example. Does it have any markings at all, and do you have any idea as to its age?
  7. To fulfill WideBrim's rabid insistence to see my inkwell, I shall concede, with photographs thereof. I purchased this about five years ago at my first Melbourne Pen Show. I've no idea how old it is, I just think it's cool:



    Yes, that's because I use this on a pretty regular basis. So I keep it topped with ink every now and then.
  8. OK, I'll join in, these were all once owned by my father in laws father.
    This has an onyx base. It's very heavy.
    Unfortunately the base on the glass desk set broke some time ago & the clock hasn't worked for years. The inscription reads, "To Capt C P Leeds from the staff of The Mayfair Theatre, Xmas 1933".
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  9. Those are beautiful, Lolly. There are two Mayfair Theatres. One is the Mayfair Theatre in Dunedin, New Zealand, opened in 1914, and the other is the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, opened in 1932. They were both opened in December. New Zealand one, 8th December, 1914, Canada one, 5th December, 1932.

    Given that you live in Australia, I'd speculate that the Mayfair Theatre in your inkstand is the New Zealand one. Here's a photo:

    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  10. Christos managed movie theatres in Sydney & western NSW for 40 years. He never went to NZ. He was the Manager of the Mayfair (73 Castlereigh St Sydney) from 1932. (great photo though, thanks).

    EDIT - He's a link to a newspaper article showing the days movies listings in Sydney 1933 - The Mayfair is there (though I'd rather go see Gold Diggers of 1933 at The State Theatre!).

    Sorry to get so off topic.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  11. Thanks, Shangas, for finally giving us a show, and a nice inkwell at that! (Or do you Commonwealth people say inkpot?) It's an oldie, no doubt, most likely meant to be part of a dual-inkwell base.
  12. The top set is especially beautiful, Lisa. Does it have a manufacturer's brand on either the base or pens? Looks like a '30s Parker or Eversharp to me...The bottom set is unusual, in that the ashtray looks like it also contains a letter holder; shame that the base cracked, and that the pen holders have broken off. How did your father-in-law's father get this from CPT Leeds, since the former was the owner of the theater, no?
  13. CPT Leeds is my Father in laws father. He managed theatres for a company called Fullers who owned vaudeville theatres in NSW (the Mayfair was one), in the early 30's they converted their theatres to talking pictures.

    I had a look at the base of the onyx desk set, I can't see a makers mark of any kind.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  14. ^^So was Christos CPT Leeds? I know you spoke of the name change when we were at the Cicada, but I can't recall all the details.
  15. Yes, he was a Captain in the British Army. When he migrated to Australia from Egypt he changed his name from Loisides to Leeds. His family continued to call him Christos, but he was known as Chris Leeds.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  16. So that's the story. I knew that his name had been Loisides (your handle). Thanks for the explanation, and let's see some more inkwells, folks.
  17. Highlander

    Highlander A-List Customer

    Other than I think it is Pat Pending Aug 8/88 on the hinge. Wish I knew more about it.
  18. Well, at least we know the relative date for it. Nice period, at any rate.
  19. I've finally taken photos of some inkwells from my personal collection, so here's a Fount-O-Ink:


    The base appears to actually be chrome-plated, while the wells are bakelite. This is obviously one designed for bookkeepers, since the left well is for the black ink, while the right one is for red. Fount-O-Ink inkwells could only use their own brand of ink, a smart way to sell more bottles. c. 1940s.
  20. Another from my collection: A Carter's inkwell in bakelite. The Carter's ink bottle in underneath the cap. These were very popular in the 1940s, and came in many colors.


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