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Thread: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

  1. #21
    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paddler View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paddler View Post
    When I use an inkwell with a porcelain insert, I fill it with an eyedropper at the start of each writing session. At the end of the session I empty the ink back into the stock bottle with the eyedropper. The reason to do this somewhat tedious procedure is that you can fill the insert to the precise depth for a uniform dip, given variations in length for different nibs.
    I've considered doing the same, except that I worry about contaminating the original bottle of ink. I may pour the unused ink into a different bottle for re-use, though. That's kind of silly because when I do use it again it might be contaminated anyway, but at least the rest of the bottle will be relatively pristine.

    Maybe you could ask a woodchuck for me? The gophers out here don't even use fountain pens, let alone dip pens.
    I already give Charles most of the non-permanent ink I get at flea markets. This is appropriate considering the temporary residence of Charles here.

    I don't worry about contamination because the ink is contaminated as soon as I take the lid off of a bottle anyway. I learned in a microbiology course that anything that is not red hot has bacteria and mold spores in/on it. A properly formulated ink should contain a growth inhibitor that makes the issue moot.
    It's probably foolishness, but I'm more concerned abut chemical contamination and possible reactions that might occur.
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  2. #22
    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    Find a small bottle that fits inside the inkwell maybe?

    Attachment 50158
    I haven't been able to find a bottle or vial that fits, so I ordered a ceramic insert. I can either follow Paddler's suggestion (or a variant thereof), or get a vinyl end cap for a 1 inch pipe and trim it down so that the lid of the inkwell will close when the trimmed-down end cap is sealing the insert. Or I may find another type of tight-fitting cap. The outside diameter of the insert rim is 25mm (very close to an inch), so it should be easy to find something that will fit over it snugly.

    This is a piece of fine English silverwork. It is hallmarked and was produced by a prestigeous silversmithing firm, and I'm sure it was quite expensive when it was new. I can't imagine it was made to be merely decorative; this was a high end, beautiful, functional item. If inkwells need to seal hermetically in order to be considered real inkwells, then this one must have had an insert with its own lid when it was new.
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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Inkwells were not sealed. Most had loose fitting lids if any lid at all. Ink was kept in corked ceramic bottles (later glass) and when needed, poured into an inkwell. It would be wasteful to store ink in an inkwell for any length of time due to evaporation, so only as much ink would be poured from the bottle as one needed to immerse the business end of a pen

    On the other hand, there were travelling inkwells designed with spill-proof seals.

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    ...This is a piece of fine English silverwork. It is hallmarked and was produced by a prestigeous silversmithing firm, and I'm sure it was quite expensive when it was new....
    Is it Gorham by any chance? My finest inkwell and blotter set was made by that firm.

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Inkwells were not sealed. Most had loose fitting lids if any lid at all. Ink was kept in corked ceramic bottles (later glass) and when needed, poured into an inkwell. It would be wasteful to store ink in an inkwell for any length of time due to evaporation, so only as much ink would be poured from the bottle as one needed to immerse the business end of a pen

    On the other hand, there were travelling inkwells designed with spill-proof seals.
    Fred is quite right. Inkwells like this were originally designed for dip pens not fountain pens. There will never be a seal that will enable ink to be stored in here as well as it is stored in a bottle with a tight fitting cap.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    A friend gave me an inexpensive inkwell set (wish I still had the entire set). The one thing I do still have is the porcelain insert... barely larger than a thimble.

  9. #27
    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Inkwells were not sealed. Most had loose fitting lids if any lid at all. Ink was kept in corked ceramic bottles (later glass) and when needed, poured into an inkwell. It would be wasteful to store ink in an inkwell for any length of time due to evaporation, so only as much ink would be poured from the bottle as one needed to immerse the business end of a pen

    On the other hand, there were travelling inkwells designed with spill-proof seals.
    That makes a lot of sense, and reassures me that I did not receive a defective or inferior inkwell. It also tallies with what I've seen of antique inkwells, both in shops and online.

    So hoorah, and thank you!
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  10. #28
    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Inkwells were not sealed. Most had loose fitting lids if any lid at all. Ink was kept in corked ceramic bottles (later glass) and when needed, poured into an inkwell. It would be wasteful to store ink in an inkwell for any length of time due to evaporation, so only as much ink would be poured from the bottle as one needed to immerse the business end of a pen

    On the other hand, there were travelling inkwells designed with spill-proof seals.
    Fred is quite right. Inkwells like this were originally designed for dip pens not fountain pens. There will never be a seal that will enable ink to be stored in here as well as it is stored in a bottle with a tight fitting cap.
    Right. I intend to use it with dip pens. I have it on good authority that Santa Claus will probably be bringing me a Victorian dip pen made in sterling with an agate handle if I'm a good enough boy. Right now I have over half a dozen dip pens and loads of nibs from the 19th century through contemporaneous.

    I know that ink would evaporate quickly from my inkwell relative to a tightly capped bottle, but I'm not sure exactly how quickly that would be. I guess I'll need to experiment a bit and see for myself.
    Last edited by calamus; October 18th, 2019 at 03:16 PM.
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    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    ...This is a piece of fine English silverwork. It is hallmarked and was produced by a prestigeous silversmithing firm, and I'm sure it was quite expensive when it was new....
    Is it Gorham by any chance? My finest inkwell and blotter set was made by that firm.
    According to the seller it was Asprey and Co. They've been around since 1781, and have made crowns, coronets and scepters for royalty around the world as well as partnering with Ferarri's Formula 1 racing team in the 1990s.
    Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. — Horace
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Can you get a close-up picture of the hallmark? It will give so much information.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    Can you get a close-up picture of the hallmark? It will give so much information.
    There are four of them in a neat little row. I believe that one of them (the anchor? not sure) means that the piece was made in Birmingham (although Asprey's offices and showrooms are in London). I'll try to take a picture, but I don't have a macro lens and closeups are a problem.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Asprey's could have been the original retailer for a silver item made in Birmingham.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    From what I can tell from researching silver pieces by Asprey from that time period, it appears that they (Asprey's) were either located in Birmingham or at least had their silver operations located in Birmingham from around 1900-1910. (https://www.925-1000.com/bx_asprey_B.html) But the piece is definitely made by Asprey's, and has the classic A&Co hallmark that Asprey's used at the beginning of the 20th century. The other three symbols are an anchor, a lion, and a lower case letter "f" done in a serif type.

    According to their website, "At present, Asprey holds a Royal Warrant from HRH Prince of Wales for jewellery and silver." https://www.asprey.com/us/asprey-today

    Anyway, here's a not very good photo of the hallmarks. I had to digitally manipulate it a little to make it clearer.

    Last edited by calamus; October 24th, 2019 at 12:00 PM.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Today the ceramic insert arrived. Thank you again Fred! When I unwrapped it, it looked too small, almost the size of a thimble, but it fit perfectly when I put it in the inkwell. I just love this inkwell. I was a silversmith for about 30 years, and I am just in awe of the workmanship that went into this piece.

    I still need to remove a little bit of tarnish from the silver, but wanted to post a picture now, so here it is, a work still in progress but now 97% done. I've also discovered that the "dinky dips" vials that I got from John Neal Bookseller fit perfectly in the insert, and allow me to close the lid of the inkwell with one in there. This would allow me to store ink in the inkwell, but the plastic vial in the insert looks cheap and destroys the elegance of the piece. So I'll just be using the inkwell in the traditional manner. Anyway, here's a photo with walnut ink in the well.

    Last edited by calamus; October 24th, 2019 at 12:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    From what I can tell from researching silver pieces by Asprey from that time period, it appears that they (Asprey's) were either located in Birmingham or at least had their silver operations located in Birmingham from around 1900-1910. (https://www.925-1000.com/bx_asprey_B.html) But the piece is definitely made by Asprey's, and has the classic A&Co hallmark that Asprey's used at the beginning of the 20th century. The other three symbols are an anchor, a lion, and a lower case letter "f" done in a serif type.

    According to their website, "At present, Asprey holds a Royal Warrant from HRH Prince of Wales for jewellery and silver." https://www.asprey.com/us/asprey-today

    Anyway, here's a not very good photo of the hallmarks. I had to digitally manipulate it a little to make it clearer.
    Those are very clear hallmarks. The small f means it was stamped in Birmingham in 1905-06.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    ...here's a photo with walnut ink in the well....
    I think that inkwell was made with a BIG desk in mind. I agree that it is a lovely piece of silversmithing.

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  24. #37
    Senior Member calamus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Yes, it has a substantial presence. I may have to buy a desk to go with it, and perhaps a larger house to accommodate the desk. Funny how one thing can lead to another...
    Last edited by calamus; October 26th, 2019 at 11:48 PM.
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