Ink Bottle

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Object Name: 
Ink Bottle
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 6.4 cm, Diam (max): 5 cm
Not on Display
Web Description: 
The first American ink manufacturers were established in the early 19th century, and ink bottles were among the earliest products made by American glass companies. This transparent aqua bottle was made in the middle of the 19th century, likely at a factory that concentrated production on bottles, flasks, and other utilitarian items. It was blown into an octagonal mold with a narrow cylindrical neck. The mold was created with an angled base, so the bottle could be tipped to one side during use. The double base suggests that the bottle was both the container to transport ink and the actual inkwell. When writing with this tilted bottle, the user would not need to lift the wrist off the table surface, which allowed for a more fluid, continuous writing motion. The “ergonomic” design eased the strain on the wrist from repeated dipping of the pen (probably a steel or gold-tipped nib) into the container. Inkwells were important utilitarian objects in homes, schools, hotels, and government and other business offices. They were made in a variety of materials, including stone, metal, ceramic, and glass. It was not until 1884, when Lewis Edson Waterman (1837–1901) patented the first workable fountain pen, that demand for ink containers began to decline. Today, when schools are eliminating the teaching of handwriting, this acquisition reminds us of a time before computers, typewriters, and pens. Unsigned. Unpublished. For more information, see Joe Nickell, Pen, Ink & Evidence: A Study of Writing and Writing Materials for the Penman, Collector, and Document Detective, Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1990; and William E. Covill Jr., Ink Bottles and Inkwells, Taunton, Massachusetts: William S. Sullwold, [1971].
Firehouse Antique Center, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Ink Bottle. Transparent aqua glass; mold-blown. Octagonal ink bottle with narrow cylindrical neck. One side of base is slanted so that it can be tipped to one side during use.
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2013 (2014) illustrated, p. 22 (#12);
Notes: Corning Museum Adds Major Work to Glass, Library Collections (2014) illustrated, p. 379, #9; BIB# AI100158