Inventory no.: 3683

Ottoman Reed Pen Box


Ottoman Reed Pen Box Finely Engraved with a Scene of the Bosphorus

Ottoman Empire

circa 1860

length: 31.7cm, diameter: 3.1cm

This rare reed document holder or pen box has been engraved in the finest possible way with a stylised topographical depiction of what most probably is the Bosphorus and Istanbul. The depiction is extremely fine showing public buildings, palaces, an aqueduct and so on as well as numerous sailing vessels, but it is not accurate and is either impressionistic or copied from an impressionistic engraving. Once engraved, the design has been in-filled with dark ink.

The box opens at one end – the end has been cut with an interlocking jigsaw-like design and it closes tightly and in a sheer manner.

The box has been made from a single, hollow segment of the Giant Reed (

Arundo Donax Macrophylla), a perennial that is native to the Mediterranean basin, and the Middle East.

Possibly, the box was made in Istanbul itself – although if this was the case then the depiction of the Bosphorus and its environs would have been more accurate. Thus, it is likely that the box was made elsewhere in the Ottoman empire, perhaps northern Africa.

The box is in perfect condition and is without cracks, chips, or repairs.



UK art market

Inventory no.: 3683