Posts Tagged ‘ink’

An inkwell

March 10, 2015

Today we look at an item which will not be familiar to people much younger than 60 yet it will bring back memories for the older generation.

Inkwells date from the days of dip in pens and for many of that older generation, their first experience of using a pen was a dip in pen.

Sybil Perry, former pupil AND teacher at Market Lavington school certainly remembered them – they feature in her hand written and drawn memories. In a spoken tape Sybil made she reported that she felt very grown up when she was first allowed to use a pen like these.

A drawing by Sybil Perry

A drawing by Sybil Perry

Her drawing shows a couple of pens which were dipped in the ink put in the well and then used until the ink held on the nib had been used and it was time to dip again. Sybil shows a school room inkwell but there were also domestic or office wells for desks which didn’t have special holes to put them in and that’s what we have at the museum.


An inkwell at Market Lavington Museum

This is placed against a centimetre scale so you can gauge the size.

In this case the well is mounted in a pewter drum and has four holes in which pens could be put. A lid can be shut down over the well to reduce evaporation when the ink was not in use.

We believe this item dates from the very early years of the twentieth century




January 16, 2013

Hands up if you were an ink monitor at school. If you were, you are probably of a more senior age now. It had been your task to make sure that inkwells in desks had a sufficient quantity of this writing fluid.

If you are still a mere youngster then you probably have no idea what the previous paragraph was about.

‘Ink? What’s ink?’ you might say.

Let’s take you back to the 1950s and 60s. Schoolboys and girls had to write with pens using a very liquid, watery fluid just called ink. They may well have started with a ‘dip-in pen’. These had a metal nib attached to a wooden handle. The cunning design of the nib meant that when you dipped it into ink, handily held in a little pot set in the desk and known as an ink well, it held some of the ink. You could then write with the pen, as you might with a pencil. The nib allowed ink to slowly flow as you moved it across paper. When the nib ran out of ink, you just dipped it in the ink again and carried on.

To allow the ink wells to be filled, ink manufacturers produced quite large bottles like this one.

Stephens Ink Bottle from about the 1960s
Stephens Ink Bottle from about the 1960s

Stephens Ink Bottle from about the 1960s

Bottle label

Bottle label

As you got used to writing with a dip-in pen, you felt a need to move on to a proper fountain pen. You had to acquire your own but in those days of 50 or 60 years ago, getting a fountain pen as a present was almost a ‘wow’ moment. It was one of those steps that marked the path to adulthood. Fountain pens had a small rubber bag inside the barrel of the pen. A lever could squeeze the air out of an empty pen. Then you dipped the nib in the ink and when you released the lever, ink was forced into the bag. Your pen was charged!

Your mum was now concerned that with larger quantities of ink you could make a permanent mess of your clothes. So along with your pen you needed a bottle of washable ink. These were much smaller than the classroom bottle – easy to keep in your school satchel.

Now to go back to 1900 when, actually, things were much the same as in the 1950s and 60s. There were classroom bottles of ink. The difference was that back then the bottles were earthenware rather than glass.

A bottle from about 1900 at Market Lavington Museum

A bottle from about 1900 at Market Lavington Museum

Interesting to see that, except for size, the label stayed the same.

You can check out more about Stephens’ Ink on this BBC web page.

An Ink Bottle

October 4, 2010

These days people hardly use pens at all and if they do, it is unlikely to be a liquid ink based pen. But plenty of  older folks will remember ink wells and dip in pens from their school days. Many classes had ink monitors, given the task of filling the ink wells which may have come from a larg bottle containing Stevens Ink. As scholars got older, they progressed to fountain pens with levers on the side to squash air out of the pen’s ink tank so that new ink could be sucked in from an ink bottle. This might well have been a bottle of Quink Ink.

Today we look at a much older bottle which was dug up in the garden of 14, High Street, Easterton. This bottle was given to the museum earlier this year. As can be seen in the photo, it is not in perfect condition.

An ink bottle found at 14, High Street, Easterton and now at Market Lavington Museum

This bottle is thought to date from the early years of the twentieth century. Its clever feature is its shape – the two grooves allow pens to rest on the bottle.

Market Lavington Museum are always pleased to receive donations like this bottle as long as they have a parish connection. They help to tell the story of life in the area and many visitors enjoy seeing items which they once used themselves. If you have items to donate then please contact the curator.