top of page

Conical Inkstand

By the 1840s, the slate and pencil were less frequently used, replaced by small ink bottles and pens in home and school. A common bottle was the "conical” inkstand, also called the “plain pyramid.” Its production continued into the early 20th century.

The conical inkstand typically has a cone-shaped body that tapers upward to a short cylindrical neck, and it was blown in a variety of colors. The excavation of the SS Republic produced more than 160 examples in clear and aqua glass. Several still contain the remnants of their original red ink clinging to the interior glass. At least one sample holds a red liquid, which may be the ink fluid now mixed with sea water.

Most of the conical inkstands retrieved from the site have a short neck, yet some of the smaller examples have no neck at all. These inkstands were ground down at the shoulder, featuring what is called a “ground-lip” finish. Such inkstands often had a metal crimped top with a hinged cap to cover the bottle’s corked mouth. However, one would expect to see some remains of the original metal affixed to the bottle. To date, none has been found. 

As in the case of most of the glassware recovered from the wreck site, all of the conical inkstands are quite likely of American manufacture, the product of any number of the glassworks operating in New England, the Midwest and Middle Atlantic, the three major glass-blowing regions of the United States during the mid-19th century. None of the inkstands are embossed with company names or retain their paper labels, making attribution to a particular ink company virtually impossible.  

bottom of page