It was Lewis Waterman who, in 1884, started the industrial-scale production of a fountain pen with the first modern multi-channel feeder that revolutionised the world of writing. Until then, everything had been based on pen, ink and inkwell.
In fact, the quill pen was the absolute protagonist when it came to writing. The feathers came strictly from medium-sized birds like goose, swan, turkey or pheasant, of which only the first three right wing feathers were taken into consideration since they had the ideal curvature to ensure an easy grip. The feather was then tempered using heat, cut and finally sharpened using a special cutter called a quill cutter. At this point, all that was needed to complete the writing equipment was an inkwell.
This fascinating object is a small container, often made of glass, used to store ink, into which the quill and, from the first half of the 19th century, the steel point pen was dipped. The term inkwell is said to derive from the ancient Greek calamos, the pointed end of the bird’s feather used in writing, which was dipped in ink. According to another school of thought, on the other hand, this term is traced back to kalamark, or squid in the Coptic language, a mollusc famous for spraying ink in the presence of its predators.
Whatever the origin of its name, the inkwell remains an undisputed synonym of elegance. It allows writers of all kinds to celebrate a long-forgotten writing ritual in their modern everyday life. A slow, cadenced rhythm made up of obligatory passages that allow our thoughts to come to life on paper thanks to the refined inkwell pens.
An object from another era
From the very beginning, the first inkwells were equipped with a lid to protect the ink from evaporation and possible dust deposits, and this is how inkwells of all shapes and materials developed over time. There are exotic-style specimens from ancient Persia, elegant Renaissance models in hand-painted ceramic, brass or silver inkwells from the imperial era that embellished the desks of lords, up to the more recent Bakelite pieces. In short, there is something for every style and taste, so much so that there are numerous enthusiasts and collectors searching for a connection to the past through a small but meaningful object.
Though school children today barely touch fountain pens, many previous generations of pupils learned to write with pen and inkwell. The physical memory of dipping the nib and giving two taps to remove the excess ink and the hours spent practicing their penmanship as they listened to the teacher’s dictations are still vivid in their minds. The start of the school day was marked by the caretaker refilling all the pupils’ inkwells and accidental ink spills.
It may perhaps have seemed like a liberation to most when Marcel Bich, having met the inventor of the biro Laszlo Biro, took over the patent in 1953 and took the market by storm, undermining the hegemony of inkwell pens. However, if for many it was a big step towards modernity, it is undeniable that the ancient charm evoked by the nib dipped in ink still enchants a large number of enthusiasts.
The perfect inkwell to embellish your desk
Whether in your home study or at the office, nothing will be more suitable to decorate your desk than the glass Visconti inkwell created especially for writers who never renounce class and elegance.
Lovers of a traditional writing experience will immediately enjoy the functionality, aesthetics and passion in this object. One of the main characteristics of the new glass inkwell is practicality: it guarantees an even filling at every single use. This effectiveness is ensured by the Visconti ink collecting system which works thanks to the convenient cylinder inside the ink cup, designed to collect the right amount of ink for one complete refill, even when the ink is running low. Measuring the exact amount of ink needed for each refill helps avoid any unnecessary waste or spillage.
The design of the inkwell is minimalistic and well-proportioned. The glass bottle has a bell-like shape that provides extra stability when handling and placing it on a work surface. The cap, which protects the contents from excessive exposure to the air, is covered by a second larger bakelite cap, a highly heat-resistant material, in the same colour as the ink contained in the bottle. In fact, it is possible to opt for no less than six different colour variants, from classic blue, black and red to the more unusual sepia, turquoise and green. These vivid and intense shades will maintain well over time thanks to the stability of the ink and the excellent sealing system.
The Visconti glass inkwell is the ideal gift to accompany a splendid fountain pen. Together, they bring a writer back to the ancient gestures that those simple but suggestive tools evoke. If these objects used to be of common, everyday use, they now seem to have become the exclusive prerogative of true connoisseurs. At Visconti we want any person interested in the joy of writing by hand to rediscover these soothing gestures from the past, to revive the emotion of the pen dipping in the inkwell and the unmistakable rough melody of the nib scratching indelible curling lines on paper.
The inkwell you can always take on your journeys
Throughout the centuries, craftsmen have been able to indulge in making inkwells in the most diverse shapes. If in ancient times even shells or animal horns were used to hold ink, today great progress has been made in the choice of materials and technologies to make allowances for a changing world in constant movement.
That is why in 1997, we created a new travel inkwell suitable for any occasion. Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, especially when on the move, this ingenious tool makes filling your piston fountain pen easier, cleaner and safer wherever you might be. Make sure your lucky pen never runs out of ink, even when away from home. The travel inkwell is a must-have item designed especially for frequent travellers and commuters.
This truly revolutionary filling method for the most modern writing instruments makes it possible to fill the reservoir of your piston-filled fountain pen quickly and easily. It is not suitable though for vintage pens with rubber reservoirs or lever fillers.
Wherever you are, never run out of ink thanks to the practical travel inkwell that will accompany you on all your adventures and the refined glass inkwell in full Visconti style to match your elegant desk.