Dating old ink bottles

With a near unquenchable thirst for inks with which to write, how would Harvard students and faculty fulfill their needs? It just so happened, however, that the self-proclaimed world’s largest ink manufacturer lay just a stone’s throw away at what is now 245 First St. in Cambridge, having just moved from Boston due to a need for expansion. Carter’s ink produced a wide variety of ink products, ranging from small fountain pen inkwells to the larger cylindrical master ink bottle that is displayed here.

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The first ink containers were ceramic glazed with warm brown tones. They had charming shapes, generally conical or cylindrical.

That was the world in which Harvard students lived in during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when this ink bottle was manufactured.

Harvard students’ demand for papers and inks would have been extremely high, despite the school's reputation as “ ‘the hardest college to get into and the easiest to stay in’.“ (Morison 1935, 369) Towards the end of the 19th century, Harvard underwent a remarkably rapid expansion under the leadership of President Eliot, which would have caused significant rise in materials for academics demanded by the school, including ink (Morison 1935, 373). "Let's Talk About Ink." In Bottles and Extras.

These bulk bottles would have been ubiquitous around Harvard, and would have been used by both students and faculty to refill their inkwells.

Last modified 26-Oct-2019 07:14