I have always been fascinated by old things, things that were made before modern manufacturing, before computers and electricity. I marvel at the ingenuity and problem-solving abilities of their creators. I initially bought this inkwell because…well, I just love art supplies, ink wells, beautiful dip pens, and the like, and I had missed out on a similar one a couple of years ago. But now that I’ve played around with it and have done a bit of research, I love it even more. I’d like to introduce you to the clever design of an antique French pump inkwell…
It’s another item I purchased from the Dreamy Whites’ birthday sale a few weeks ago. I initially thought it was an ironstone inkwell and, as I mentioned, I had pondered purchasing a similar one a couple of years ago, but I missed out on it. When I saw it listed in Maria’s shop (and at a 45% discount), I didn’t hesitate.
It is a very interesting, unique piece, so I decided to do some research on it. I discovered that it isn’t ironstone, as I thought, but it’s porcelain. It is very heavy for its size and has the same luster as ironstone, so I made that incorrect assumption. I also learned that it is called a pump inkwell and, after a lot of digging, I found a video showing how it works.
You remove the weight from the inkwell and fill it with ink.
Put the weight back in place and turn the knob on the top…
As the knob loosens, it lowers the weight, displacing the ink into the little well. To drain the well, tighten the knob to pull up the weight.
I was so pleased to discover that mine is in perfect working order! Here is a little video showing how it works…
Isn’t that amazing! What a clever design! I didn’t have the lid on completely straight, but you get the idea of how a pump inkwell works. I have that part figured out now, too!
I also learned that I got mine for a steal. These are very rare, especially in working order and in good condition, so they are expensive when they surface for sale. I haven’t done additional research on the specific maker (the writing on the top is a little hard to read), but this is circa mid-1800s.
So, it goes perfectly with my 1820s sterling silver dip pen I purchased in Paris a couple of years ago.
The kitties thought it was very clever, too.
I love learning new things, even something as small as how a mid-1900th century French woman used her inkwell. Now you learned something today, too!