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Vintage Ink and Ink Bottles - Pendemonium!

Updated September 11, 2021

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Carter's Ink Cubes

This is the place to be for old ink bottles from the early 1800s up to the 1960s. Many of the bottles we have listed are strictly for the ink bottle collector. We also have a number of older ink bottles that still contain useable fountain pen inks which many fountain pen aficionados prefer over modern day inks.

In addition to our selection of vintage ink bottles on this page, you'll also find related items such as ink eraser fluids, rubber stamp inks and traveling ink bottle containers.

Vintage & Collectible Inks

I1054 Bottle $25

I1054F. Werer Co Waterproof Drawing Ink, clear oz dropper bottle with black and white elaborate label. Embossed on bottom: F Werer Co Phila and in the center a quite detailed embossing of a Sphinx. Very dried up ink inside bottle. Cork style lid with dropper is loose. Some specks of ink on the label, but overall not too bad and quite unusual.

I1280 $10

Parker 61 Instant Ink - ca. 1961. General consensus amongst the Parker gurus is that these are far more rare than the Parker 61 pens they're designed to be used with! Rarity does not always equate to expensive and these are much less than a Parker 61 fountain pen! Parker Instant Ink is a Super Quink Ink concentrate for use with the Parker 61. The idea was to plug the Instant Ink cartridge onto the end of the capillary filler, dunk in water, let it mix with the ink and feed into the pen. Ink cartridge is still sealed in the package. I doubt the ink concentrate is still usable, but I'll leave that for you to try if you decide to do so! Most of package is missing, ink cartridge intact.

I1412 $10

Carter’s Rytoff Bottle - Rytoff was one of many names Carter's used over the years for their vast line of Ink Erasers and Ink Removers. This small concave sided amber glass bottle would have once been part of a kit inside a Carter's tin. Black faceted bakelite lid. There is liquid inside the bottle, but this stuff was taken off the market many decades ago, I don't think I'd try it. Bottle measures about 1.75 in side at base and is 2.75 inches tall. Very good condition with a great label.

I1435 $10

Carter's No. 495 Rytoff Ink Eradicator, ca. 1970s, amber cone shaped bottle with black plastic screw on cap. Red, white and black box. Measures 2 in dia and 2 1/8 in high. Bottle is empty.

I1457 $10

Carter’s No. 481 Indelible Cloth Marking Ink Outfit - Complete boxed set includes wooden stretcher, red, white & blue labeled bottle of Indelible ink (ink dust inside), wood mini dip pen and Carter’s steel nib. Complete instruction pamphlet also included. Box measures 4.25 x 2 x 2.5 inches tall. Great graphics and a nice little kit from the late 1940s.

I1512 $5

Higgins India Ink Bottle No. 4415, ca. 1970s, 1 ounce clear glass dropper style bottle with black and white label. Small amount of India Ink in the bottle. Includes black and white box, but it is well worn. Bottle in very good condition. This dropper style bottle makes a good bottle when cleaned up for ink mixing and storing your special colors.

I1536 $40

Sanford's Xit Ink Eraser, small amber glass bottle with brown rubber lid inside a tin printed in yellow, red, white and black. The Sanford's Xit logo and markings are on three sides, one side has lengthy and detailed instructions along with warnings for using on paper or cloth. No matter which brand of ink eraser or eradicator, it always came with a lot of warnings! I am certain that the liquid inside the bottle has degraded and is no longer useful. Tin shows just some light wear to edges, it is in very good condition.

I1558 $15

Stephens’ English Ink Bottles - ca. 1950s Stephens' Ink Bottles were made in England. These came to us in the large box pictured which originally held 24 bottles. Clear glass oval shaped bottles have a black metal screw on lid. The lid is embossed Stephens’ in script across the top. The dark blue and white label indicates these are No. 696 Stephens’ Blue Black Writing For Every Make of Pen. All that remains in the bottles is a bit of blue-black ink dust, the ink has evaporated. Labels in very good condition. Minor bits of rust showing on the high points of the lids. Each bottle measures 2 x 2 3/8 inches at widest base points, height is 2 7/8 inches. Fluid ounces not marked on bottle or label, but these appears to be about 2 ounce sized bottles, your average desk stop ink bottle size. These bottles have fared very well over the past 60-some years helped along by the fact that they were tucked away in their original box. Nice little piece of post-war English history. Clean them out and refill with new ink or use them to mix your special colors in. (We have several available.)

I1652 $10

Sanford’s Wood Panel from original shipping crate.  Wood panel measures 18 x 5.75 inches and is printed with Sanford’s logo.  It is rough along the lower edge, someone didn’t take the time to remove it carefully from the crate.  None the less, it is rare to find old ink boxes, this one would have dated back to the late 1890s - early 1900s. It’s a heckuva lot less expensive than a fully intact Sanford’s wood shipping crate which runs $100-$200 depending on age and condition and of course if you can find one!   

I1731 $15

Parker Super Quink Ink Bottle, ca. 1950s, Canada, 2 ounce, clear glass, white, black and bright blue label for Permanent Blue Black Super Quink. Black screw on metal lid with silver imprint - Parker and the oval arrow logo. 2 ounces. No ink in bottle. Comes with original box marked Don Mills, Ontario. Both bottle and box in very good condition.

I1875  $10

Carter’s Waterproof Drawing Ink No. 358, clear glass dropper style bottle. Bright marigold yellow/orange label with black print: Carter’s Drawing Ink, Waterproof Violet No 358 Made in USA. Bottle measures 1.75 in diameter, height is 3 in. Original box is included – illustration front and back of drafting tools, side panels read: For Artists, Architects & Draftsmen. Carter’s bottles were always little works of art. Violet ink dust in bottle, cork stopper is very tight in neck of bottle.

 

I1891  $50

Sanford's Solvene Type Cleaner Faceted Bottle with soft applicator brush on one end.  Light blue, dark blue, yellow and white label is in excellent condition and as typical of the 1920s, the wordy wording on the label tells you everything you could possibly want to know about Solvene Cleaner, especially how to use it. Clear bottle measures 4.5 inches, adding the length of the brush applicator it is 6 inches long. Eight facets. One faceted panel  is embossed  Sanford's INKS and Adhesives. Excellent condition.

I1893  $20

Carter's Two Solution Ink Eraser No. 942 USA, Perfect dark blue metallic gold and white printed metal container for Carter's Two Solution Ink Eraser, Clear and amber bottles with black bakelite lids rest in a divided white metal holder inside the tin.  Tin measures  2 in diameter, height of tin is 3 inches.  Original instructions and informational pamphlet is folded and inside the tin.  Near mint condition.  Please Note:  We are certain that whatever ink eraser chemicals were used in this vintage product have long ago degraded, we advise against trying to use!

I1896  $40

Carter’s Black Fountain Pen Ink No. 584, Clear 4 oz cylindical bottle with hard ubber cork stoppe embossed with INX logo. Metallic gold label with black and white lettering. Little bit of dried black ink inside bottle. Comes with original box, however flaps were cut off at one time. Bottle measures 2 5/8 inches diameter and height is 3 1/8 inches tall. Bottle and label are in excellent condition.

I1897  $20

Waterman’s Tip-Fill Ink Bottle, Canada, pastel yellow label with dark blue price, illustration of the world with a Waterman fountain pen, Noir/Black ink, ink stain along top and left edge as noted in photo. Two ounce bottle. Bright yellow metal screw on lid. Bottom of bottle is embossed: Waterman’s 2 0z Registered Made in Canada. Very good condition, this bottle is not often seen.

I1905  $10

Camel Ink, ca. Early 2000s, fairly recent production, India, Black fountain pen ink. Cool bottle with embossed ribs along top section of bottle and “Camel Popular” embossed below. Not marked, but looks to be about 1.5 ounce. Bottle is about 2/3 full of usable ink – We just tested it out and it smells like it should and writes like it should, a nice deep, dark black ink.

 

I1912  $35

Sanford’s Desk Stand Ink Bottle No. 279, ca. 1940S, Curved eight panel bottle with raised feet at base. Black bakelite screw on lid. Light blue label wraps around three panels and is marked: No. 279 4 oz., Sanford’s Fountain Pen Ink, Permanent Royal Blue, Flows Freely, Will not clog pen. Bottle is clear, no ink stains inside the bottle or on label. Measures 3 1/8 in in height, base diameter is 2.5 inches. Excellent condition.

I1914 $35

Parker Super Quink Ink Bottle, ca. 1960s, Cobalt Blue diamond shaped bottle with white plastic screw on lid. 2 ounce bottle. Permanent Blue NO ink. Very good label and bottle. Super Quink bottles in the cobalt blue are beautiful and make great little inkwells on your desk! 

I1932  $10

Carter’s Quickset Indelible Cloth Marking Outfit No. 481, great graphics on the original red, white and blue box. Inside is a small bottle with black bakelite cap, no liquid ink inside, just ink dust. While the outer cover shows this bottle with a red, white and blue label, there is no label on the actual bottle, nor are there any signs of there ever being one there! Small wood disk which you would secure your fabric around with an outer wood ring, the ring is missing. B&W Directions for Using the Carter’s Quickset Indelible cloth marking outfit. Small 3.5 inch long wood dip pen with Signature No. 6 gold plated nib, firm extra fine point. Great little set in original box. So glad there are easier ways to mark cloth if needed in our modern days!

 

I1937  $500

Carter Inx Materials Wood Box with nine bottles of materials used in making Carter Inx Products. Wood shipping box has dovetailed corners and is printed on all four sides in black. Inside are different labeled bottles of materials Carter’s used in ink making and one un-labeled bottle. 1) Blue Pigment Comes from the United States Made from Coal Tar Used in Making Carter's Vel Vet Show Card Ink 2) Green Pigment, Comes from the United States Is a Combination Prussian Blue and Chrome yellow The former made from Iron, The latter made from Lead, Used in Making Carter’s Vel Vet Show Card Colors 3) Bichromate of Soda, Comes From the United States Made by Electrolytic Process From Chrome Iron, Used in Making Carter’s Koal Black Ink and Black Lettering Ink 4) Carter’s Vel Vet Show Card Colors, Black (empty & clean bottle), 5) Gall Nuts Comes from Turkey, Syria and China, Used in Making Carter’s writing Fluid 6) Tannic Acid Comes from Turkey (see Gall Nuts, Use in Carter’s Blue Black Inks, Such as Writing Fluid and Fountain Pen Ink to Give Permanency, 7) Red Pigment, Comes From the United States, Contains Coal Tar, Used in making Vel Vet Show Card Colors, 8) Copperas, Comes From New England, This is a Bi-Product of Steel Wire Making. Used with Tannic and gallic Acid in the manufacture of Carter’s Writing Fluid. Last bottle 9) Clear glass bottle with bright blue stain inside and golden lid, no label. Box measures 9 inches across x 7 inches deep. Looks as though originally there were 16 bottles, now there are 9 bottles as listed above. Rare Carter's memorabilia, the only one we have ever seen! We found no other references to this when researching. We’re fairly certain that this box of ingredients would have been shown to retailers to explain their Carter’s ingredients used in making their inks. I’d date it to the late 1880s, perhaps even a little earlier.

Vintage Ink & Bottle Related Resources

Evan Lindquist's Gallotannate Ink Recipe
Evan Lindquist, artist, printmaker, penman and retired Professor of Art at Arkansas State University has experimented extensively with Gallotannate and other old style inks. We invite you to visit Evan's website to see how inks of days gone by were made. http://evanlindquist.com/othermedia/oldink.html

Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors
This association site offers up all sorts of ink bottle information as well as info on glass in general. http://www.fohbc.org/

Pottery Ink Bottles
An article by Ed and Lucy Faulkner, well researched text and many illustrations of early ink bottles. http://www.fohbc.org/PDF_Files/PotteryInks_Faulkner.pdf

The Carter Ink Company
An article by Ed and Lucy Faulkner, history of Carters, many photographs of unusual early Carter's Ink bottles. http://www.fohbc.org/PDF_Files/Ink_Sp2003.pdf

The Original Higgins Ink, A Nevada Invention
An article by Fred Holabird, fascinating account of the first Higgins ink bottles (not the ones made in Brooklyn!) http://www.fohbc.org/PDF_Files/HigginsInk.pdf

Dating Older Ink Bottles
Digger Odell has some excellent general antique bottle information on his website, in particular a good section on how to determine when your ink bottles were made based on bottle characteristics such as mold seams, embossing, type of lid, etc. http://www.antiquebottles.com/dating.html

Old Inks in Your Pens

Many people ask us if they should use old ink and we believe this is another one of those common sense issues! We use 50+ year old ink frequently in new fountain pens and vintage fountain pens with excellent results. Before using old inks, you need to take a few precautions.

Vintage Ink Precautions:

1. Check to make sure there is no sediment, mold or other non-ink substance floating around or in the bottom of the bottle. Solids don't flow well, keep them in the bottle and out of your pens.

2. Look at the color of the ink, if it has taken on an odd hue that just doesn't look right - keep the ink in the bottle.

3. Unscrew the lid and take a little sniff, if you notice any unusual odor, screw the lid back on and refrain from using the ink.

Vintage Blue and Blue-Black inks
seem to have survived the years better than other colors of inks and are a pretty good place to start if you're looking to try vintage inks. Older Sheaffer Skrip, Parker Quink and Carter's Inks are generally pretty stable inks and we've had good results using these.

Never, never, ever use Drafting, Drawing or India Inks
in a fountain pen - these contain shellac which can gum up the insides of a fountain pen quickly. Early iron gall based inks can also be very corrosive to a fountain pen and I urge that you try them out with a dip pen or glass pen instead of a fountain pen.

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