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Lediard's Morning Call Bitters Bottle

The SS Republic carried a large shipment of ink bottles for home, office and school use, but few of the specimens recovered from the site have a manufacturer’s embossment. All are also lacking any original paper label which would have identified the ink maker. The bottles had also once been sealed with a cork stopper, no longer intact.

Nearly 70 unembossed square inkstands were found among the cargo. With its boxy and beveled roof-like corners, many collectors call this distinctive shape a “cottage” or “school house” inkstand. Like other contemporary inkstands, it was designed to be sturdy and attractive, yet is far less elaborate than some other examples produced in this era which feature well-defined windows, doors and rooftops.

Also counted among the Republic’s shipment of ink containers were larger ink bottles called “master inks," many with a distinctive pouring lip, which according to glasshouse catalogs of the period was called a “pour-out.” These larger vessels typically stored bulk ink to fill smaller inkstands when empty.

A few of the ship’s cottage inkstands including this example, still hold their original reddish-purple writing fluid after nearly 140 years on the ocean floor. Over time the ink had coagulated and settled to the bottom, with a pale red fluid filling the remainder of the bottle.

One unique example exhibits a bulging side and an irregular neck, defects that occurred during its manufacture. Given the costs of production and limited industry regulation, it was not uncommon in the 19th century to sell flawed merchandise.

Square Inkstand

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