Portable Writing Set

This favorite item from my collections is a miniature portable writing set, c1770.


The tiny tortoiseshell box measures only 2½” by 1½” — so small it might have easily been carried in a lady’s reticule. It is lined in red velvet, and all the fittings are sterling silver.

Inside is everything needed to pen a quick note, perhaps when traveling or otherwise away from pen and ink.

As you can see in the image below, there is a tiny ink bottle and matching pounce bottle, with remnants of ink and pounce in each. (Pounce is a finely ground powder made of fine sand or a powdered mineral, such as sandstone or talc, sprinkled over wet ink to hasten the drying.) A clever articulated sterling pen base expands from only 2″ to 4½”. There are three pen nibs that screw into the pen base, one sand scraper, and one funnel.

Portable Writing Set Figure 1a

As all the parts are so small, I have assumed that this writing set was meant for a woman.

Portable Writing Set Figure 2


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