antique combination sketchbook & palette

by | Jun 15, 2022 | art supplies, art supplies, Artistic Endeavors | 11 comments

One of my observant blog readers noticed that I wrote “I bought art boxes” instead of “I brought art boxes” in yesterday’s post.  We both had a laugh at it, but the truth is I have still bought a few things here and there.  Some of it was timed to arrive before we closed on our house and some of it has been shipped to my parent’s house.  I mean, what are parents for if not to get your mail and store stuff in their garage?  (And ask them for your inoculation records when you’re in your 40s.  My mom actually said, “You are in your 40s and I have no idea where your inoculation records are.”  Valid.)  Anyway, in our final week in our house, I received one of my last-minute purchases – an antique combination sketchbook and palette that I just couldn’t resist even in the middle of a move.

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

I browse Etsy and eBay almost daily to see what may have popped up for sale.  Most days, I add things to my cart, think about them, and then remove them.  I try to think about how I will use the item, what it will bring to a collection, and where I will store or display it.  Taking that time has kept me from making impulsive buys.  But, my rules of waiting, pondering, and weighing went out the window when I spotted this piece.  I hit the buy button and flew through the checkout, knowing this antique combination sketchbook and palette was a unique find.

And, let’s be honest…it’s so small.  What’s one more notebook when you’re moving?  Nothing at all.  I made sure Jeff knew that as I eagerly awaited the arrival of the shipment.

I can tell you that this antique combination sketchbook and palette is worth moving.  It was worth one more box in a sea of boxes.

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

It has a wonderful inscription, which I love.  Someone gave this combination sketchbook & palette as a gift.  I assume it was an encouragement of their creativity, art, and to keep a record of life and travels.

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

Of course, I’m smitten with the faded green color of the cover and the ribbon tie.  I wrote an entire ode to how much I love ribbon ties on sketchbooks HERE.

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

But the biggest delight of this antique sketchbook is that it’s not just a sketchbook.  As I gave away in the title, it’s a combination sketchbook and watercolor palette.  Tucked just to the right of the block of watercolor paper is an enamel box that you might miss unless you were paying attention…

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

The lid flips open to reveal a petite watercolor palette and a place to store a brush…

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

And this antique combination sketchbook and palette delights even further when the palette pulls out to reveal a mixing surface and a thumbhole.

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

I have a few antique palettes by C. Roberson & Co. and I know it’s a good brand that has made some wonderful (and highly collectible) art boxes, palettes, and painting surfaces.

I bought this antique C Roberson bijou watercolor palette from Julia of Ponder & Purchase and it is such a cool piece.  It is so tiny that it can just fit in your pocket.

antique roberson bijou watercolor palette | miss mustard seed

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

I need to source some replacement paper to fit in the sketchbook because I do intend to use it!

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

I did a bit of research on this antique combination sketchbook and palette online and didn’t find many examples, but I did find a few, one was a sketchbook by Henry Scott Tuke in the archives of the Tate museum (minus the palette), one was an old eBay listing, and one was on the Royal Trust’s website.  It seems that my watercolor palette is very similar to one owned and used by Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom.  The sketchbook is dated 1884-1889, which makes me happy for a few reasons.  First of all, the sketchbook is old and mine is likely not too far off of those dates.  Second, it took her 3-5 years to fill 19 pages of this sketchbook. That makes me feel better about the sketchbooks I start, neglect, and revisit!

Queen Alexandra's Roberson combination pocket sketchbook and watercolor palette | via the royal trust | miss mustard seed

photo via The Royal Trust

Queen Alexandra's Roberson combination pocket sketchbook and watercolor palette | via the royal trust | miss mustard seed

photo via The Royal Trust

Queen Alexandra's Roberson combination pocket sketchbook and watercolor palette | via the royal trust | miss mustard seed

photo via The Royal Trust

I have even purchased a few antique hand-tied goose quill and natural hair watercolor brushes similar to the one Alexandra used.  I bought them in a lot of unused antique stock from Etsy (the seller is taking a break right now.)

Here is a description of Queen Alexandra’s antique Roberson combination sketchbook and palette…

Description of queen Alexandra's Roberson combination pocket sketchbook and watercolor palette | via the royal trust | miss mustard seed

You can see more details about the sketchbook and palette along with some of her watercolor paintings HERE.

Of course, I had to test out the watercolors in my palette, but I will end up refilling the wells with professional watercolors in a familiar color palette.

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

I did a quick and loose landscape study on some of the old paper and I really love this set.  It’s quite clever and I wonder why something like this combination sketchbook and palette is no longer manufactured.

antique roberson combination sketchbook and palette | art supplies | miss mustard seed

As I’ve shared in many posts before, the tools, materials, and supplies you use matter.  They are a part of your kit, your process, and even your decorating aesthetic.  Everything from the pen you use to write a grocery list to your dish brush should be something that is delightful to use, that makes you smile, and that you enjoy.  I mean…why not?  If you’re going to spend good money on something, it might as well be on something you really love and use.

And that’s exactly how I feel about this combinate sketchbook and palette.

You can read about my collection of antique art supplies HERE.

11 Comments

  1. Betsy

    It’s a beautiful treasure! I see why you had to have it.

  2. Laura Short

    You are not the only person to buy whilst moving house! Thirty years ago, I lived in England, gratis the US Air Force. The three days the packers were there at my house, packing up all my worldly possesions, I was out at my favourite antique dealers (as well as the three Laura Ashley shoppes within an hour drive), buying…buying…buying those last minute treasures I couldn’t live without. After all, we had a generous weight allowance, and, yep! we squeaked by. 😉 I have never regretted any of those purchases.

  3. Cheri

    This is my absolute favorite item you have shared here! Who can you get to make and sell these?!!

  4. Wendy

    Wow, wherever did you find? I collect watercolor palettes and I’ve never seen one like that. What a treasure…Enjoy! Wish you could use your influence and have someone manufacture them again. I agree-super useful!

  5. Irene Kelly

    Enjoy collecting what you love ! ❤️

  6. Mayanna

    Awww!!! Be still my heart. ❤️♥️💕

  7. Loretta

    I love this! You are right, it’s a perfect combo.

  8. Sandy

    Such a beauty! Looked up the site about Queen Alexandra and so enjoyed seeing her sketches. Enjoy your new treasure.
    Super cool!

  9. Rita

    It is a beautiful piece and worthy of your collection. Enjoyed the extra info about Queen Alexandra, an artist in her own right. It would be wonderful to have a modern watercolor book available like this.

  10. Addie

    Aren’t art supplies just the best…ever!!! Of course, I would have to add in old sewing supplies also. I sketch and do watercolors and love to pick up old well loved supplies. This, that you found is surely a keeper!!! I am glad that you use your “new to you” items. That is what they are for. I use mine as well.
    Yes, I had a good laugh about the the brought/bought yesterday….but what I didn’t mention is…4 yrs ago I put my stuff in storage and had to stay a year in my old town for work. I stayed with friends and when not at work I didn’t want to be always hanging around. So… I amused myself with my usual pleasure of visiting thrift and antique shops and garage sales. The husband kept warning me, “How are you going to fit it all in your car?” Well, it didn’t fit…HA! I had to mail several boxes to myself. When I read you shipped to your parent’s house….it made me love you even more!!!!

  11. Anna

    I love that you wrote- everything from the pen you use to the dish scrubber you use should be delightful. So true. It’s the small little bright spots that enrich our lives. Thank you for sharing so much about the sketch books and their history. I’m with you on the ribbon ties.

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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