Collectible Desk Sets

Interesting article, although I question several of the phrases in the photo caption; “ebonized wood”?, “brass nibs”?, “ornately embossed“?  Can anyone comment on the terms they used?

Antique desk sets

Antique desk sets
Two of these Victorian dip pens are ebonized wood with gold-filled collars and brass nibs.  The third dip pen, in sterling silver, is ornately embossed and also has a brass nib.

Desk sets, intended for home or office letter-writing and other business, used to be commonplace. Do you remember the ones of the 1950s and 1960s? Most had tooled leather or composition blotter holders and perhaps matching scotch tape dispensers or pencil jars. However, a hundred years earlier, desk sets were much more elaborate, consisting of crystal bottles for ink, special places for pens and letters, engraved openers for letters and probably matching scissors (or, if really old, an elegant brass candle holder and snuffer!). Such older desk sets are often available in antique stores….

…Another vital part of antique desk sets was the inkwell. For hundreds of years, writing on a paper was accomplished by dipping some sort of stiff bristle—a reed or quill—into inks. In the Renaissance, pointed brass nibs in wooden, brass or silver handles became available, at least to the elite. Finally, the fountain pen was invented in the early 19th century. For decades, writers required handy jars of ink for dipping or refilling. Eventually, ink cartridge refills became commonplace after WWII, and a few years later, the ubiquitous ballpoint pen was refined; it stopped smearing and then dropped in cost. Within another decade, ballpoint pens took over writing on paper around the world.

Collectors of antique dip pens admire them for their grace and elaborate engravings. Others seek out luxury fountain pens for their imaginative casings: Many pen casings were plastics in handsome patterns before plastic was a common word in our language, and some pen casings came with precious metal or jeweled decoration….

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