|Inkwell from a 17th century casket. The center hole allowed|
the quill to be dipped into the ink (Private Collection)
In at least two collections (the V&A and a private collection), there are quills that have been decoratively wrapped with filament silk in patterns which fit into the writing tray. These wrappings are similar to what some kids do today with embroidery floss on pencils to help their grip.
|Pounce pot with the half sphere depression and shaker holes |
|Taking very accurate measurements off of over a dozen|
inkwells in private and public collections. This is a
special tool where the measurements show up well
in reflected light under microscopes. (Private Collection)
In other words, these are tiny but complicated when you are thinking of reproducing them. There are six pieces per pot.
I had spent a great deal of time measuring these little pieces and we chose a set that was a good representative size and whose cube bottom would make a good size for our double casket proportions.
The next task would be to figure out what all the pieces were made from and the processes that were used so we could start thinking about re-engineering them.
|Looking through the hole in an ink well at the inside of the cube|
The layers and bubbles in the metal were clues that told us
these were pewter that were slip cast.
Reasoning said that the tops were brass sheet and the bottoms appeared like pewter, which was a common metal in use at the time. Showing detailed photos to Judy Danforth (of Danforth Pewter based in Vermont), she confirmed that the bases were slip cast pewter in a sand mold. The excess pewter would be poured out as it solidified against the sides of the mold, leaving the characteristic ripples we saw in the bottom of the cubes.
|Another piece, looking through the hole|
with a microscope to see the technique of
This is something that Danforth could do, but they weren't sure about how to make or connect the rest of the lids/pins. They had never had experience soldering brass and pewter together.
So while I had a willing partner for the bottom part of the inkwell, I needed to go off and find solutions for the top.
More about those parts tomorrow (We are up to 2012 now...)