19th & 20th-Century Inkwell Collection

Value (2006) | $3,000 Retail$5,000 Retail

APPRAISER:
What in the world made you collect inkwells?

GUEST:
Well, it's self-defense. My husband collects fountain pens. But I used to teach calligraphy, so I just got really interested in them.

APPRAISER:
You've got a wonderful group here.

GUEST:
Oh, thanks.

APPRAISER:
And they expand from all through the 19th century and then even into the early 20th century. Do you have any questions for me about individual ones?

GUEST:
I would like to know about this inkwell in particular.

APPRAISER:
Sure.

GUEST:
I bought it at an old bottle show.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm

GUEST:
And I know nothing about it and have not been able to find out anything about it.

APPRAISER:
It's really evocative of the mid-19th-century America. It's made out of cast iron. Okay. You can see that leaf form, and then there's that wonderful blown, clear-glass globe, which is probably why the bottle dealer had it. So you'd fill up the globe with ink, and then as you used it, the level of the ink would go down, and it was sort of a curiosity. I would say, um, probably the value on that is about $200 or so.

GUEST:
Okay. Which one is the oldest?

APPRAISER:
Well, this one here is made of gutta percha, so that's a nice early one. There's also the Capodimonte here, which is an Italian pottery, and that as well is 1850 time frame. And it has the Capodimonte mark on the bottom, which is an "N" with a crown on it. So it's a continental piece. But you've got American ones, and you have European ones. You've got some inkwells from the Tiffany Company. I noticed there are two of them here.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
This Tiffany piece in bronze doré, and then also the other Tiffany one up here. You can see the Tiffany mark on the bottom of this.

GUEST:
Is the finish correct on that one?

APPRAISER:
The finish is correct. This is a bronze doré and the "doré" refers to the gilding on it.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
Now, the thing about the two Tiffany pieces, and probably for a lot of these inkwells such as this German one as well, is that they were part of desk sets. And so you would have had a blotter, you would have had the inkwell, you might have had a pen-holder. You've got, for this art nouveau one over here, the letter holder, still.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
I would say that most valuable would be this Tiffany piece, and it's part of the Tiffany horoscope. You've got a crab here on the front of it, and I would say that in a shop, I might see that inkwell fetching $800 or $1,000. I mean, it's really quite a wonderful inkwell.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
I would say that the most pedestrian of them is this little one probably.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And we might see an inkwell like this, maybe $50 or so.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
So for the whole collection, I'm thinking you've got about $3,000 to $5,000.

GUEST:
Ooh.

APPRAISER:
But collecting is so much fun, isn't it?

GUEST:
It is.

APPRAISER:
Where have you found these?

GUEST:
Junk shops, bottle shows, antique stores. I'm going to hit some today. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Skinner, Inc.
Marlborough, MA
Appraised value (2006)
$3,000 Retail$5,000 Retail
Event
Mobile, AL (July 08, 2006)
Period
19th Century
Form
Ink Well
Material
Bronze, Cast Iron

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