What Is It! #25

These are some of my antique desk ink wells and pen and nib carriers. The use of pens dates from the Second to the Sixth Century and follows the invention of paper. The early writing implements were made from reeds.

By the Sixth Century, pens were made from geese or swan quills. In fact, the word for pen comes from the Latin word for feather. The writing tips (nibs) were carved from swan or goose quills.

This remained the source until replaced by the much improved and less expensive steel nibs invented in 1822. The need for more speedy writing brought several messy fountains pens on the market.

But it was Lewis Waterman in New York City who perfected the truly functional fountain pen in the 1880’s.

The first photo is of an old glazed ceramic ink well. The second item is a brass nib and quill holder. Maybe a Scriber or lawyer carried it in his brief case. The larger brass inkwell in photo two is for a desk and may be from the 18th Century.


(Editor’s note: Palisades resident Howard Yonet has an interesting collection of curios from around the world and with his permission, Circling the News is publishing one a week. About the collector: Dr. Howard Yonet was born in Brooklyn in 1934 and attended Brooklyn College. He went to Baylor Medical School and then returned to do an internship at Bellevue Hospital. Yonet completed his residency at the Manhattan V.A. and the Montefiore Hospital. During this time he went skiing in Vermont and the Catskills, and while traveling found barns filled with early American pieces. This led to his interest in American Antiques.

In 1965, he married Daniele, who was originally from Nancy, France. During the Vietnam War, Yonet was drafted as a medical officer and stationed in Landstuhl, Germany (1966-1969). This was close to the French border, which meant he and Daniele and could visit her family.

While abroad, the Yonets took weekend trips through France and Italy, purchasing many interesting pieces at flea markets.

The family settled in Pacific Palisades in 1970 and Yonet practiced general radiology until 2006. He continued to acquire antiques and collectables at estate and garage sales and the Salvation Army Store. He also enjoyed looking for collectibles while traveling in Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Massachusetts. Daniele’s family helped add to his collection.)













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One Response to What Is It! #25

  1. M says:

    INTERESTING…..thank you

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