Liquid ink, a mixture of the blackening and liquid, made a different type of inkwell necessary. A traveling man had a pen and ink in a leakproof container made of ceramic, glass, shells, or later, metal or plastic.

The era of the inkwells that interests most collectors began in the 18th century. Elaborate ceramic containers to hold ink on a desk as part of a set in an inkstand were important accessories. Soon all inkwells were glass set in metal or other leakproof containers that could screw or clamp shut.

One of the most unusual is the porcelain “snail,” a revolving, tilting inkwell. It looks like a snail shell on a metal frame standing on a saucer. The bottle revolves so the snail’s head tilts up, exposing the opening for the pen. There are even twin snail holders.

When the fountain pen was invented by Lewis Waterman in 1880, the need for inkwells vanished. Then, in 1939, the ballpoint pen debuted.

Few now use pen and ink, but collectors search for old inkwells. A snail inkwell sold at a Glass Works online bottle auction in New Jersey recently for $156. It was made of white porcelain and decorated with hand-painted multicolored flowers.

I inherited over 30 Bossons wall head sculptures and I don’t really want them. Could you recommend an organization or collectors group that might help me find a buyer for them?

Bossons character wall masks were made by W. H. Bossons, Ltd. Company in Congleton, England, from 1946 to 1996. W. H. Bossons and his son, Ray Bossons, trained as potters and designed the pieces. After W. H. died in 1951, Ray ran the business.

The company also made figurines, shelf ornaments, plaques, lamp bases, bookends, wall clocks, thermometers, barometers and more.

There is limited interest in the wall sculptures today, and they are hard to sell. Try contacting the International Bossons Collectors Society at to reach collectors. One sculpture could sell at retail for $35 to $100.

Current Prices

Rumrill, bowl, green, stacked rings, tabs at shoulders, 7 3/4 inches, $25.

Medical fleam, brass, lancet-shaped blade, spring mechanism, leather box, 2 1/2 inches, $105.

Ride-on toy, St. Bernard, hard plastic, painted steel frame and wheels, handle bar, England, c. 1905, 19 x 24 inches, $325.

Teco vase, matte green, yellow speckles, handles, 11 inches, $515.

Tip: Never store a rug in a plastic bag. The fibers need to breathe. Wrap the rug in a clean white sheet. Don’t store rugs in a hot attic.

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit © 2019 King Features Synd., Inc.


Load comments