Ladies’ Portable Ink Well (late 1700s, early 1800s)

image of gold Ladies' Ink Well, from above

A friend of mine, who dabbles as an amateur antiques dealer, passed me this ink well hoping I could repair it. He had been a bit over enthusiastic polishing it, after finding it at a car boot sale. It was a bit sad, the lid had come off at the soldered joints because they had broken at the rear corners of the lid. Any repair looked tricky as any clamping would limit soldering the joint.. These boxes were probably semi mass produced in the late 1700’s early 1800’s using jigs to clamp the parts together whilst they were soldered. In the days before fountain pens and ballpoint pens etc. people used quill pens. They were made from the feathers from a pen swan, the female. These needed to be dipped into ink approximately at a rate of once every sentence. A Victorian Lady would need an ink well to take with her when travelling in order to write, in most cases, in a journal or a diary on her travels. Originally this box would have been covered in leather. The challenge was to re-solder the joint so that the lid was re-attached and particularly the lid catch would work again. I managed to join the lid corners without needing any clamping using a large soldering iron. I succeeded in the catch working again and the box restored.