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Mughal Brass Writing Box

Northern India
18th-19th century

length: 26.2 cm; height: 15 cm



UK art market

The box comprises two separate tubular pen holders, and a cylindrical inkwell with a domed cover topped with an elaborately cast finial that shows obvious architectural influence.

The cover unscrews to reveal the inkwell. A pin amusingly cast in the shape of an eating squirrel holds a double lid to the pen compartments in place. The box is cast with foliage and floral scrollwork and has a beautiful soft patina.

Such a pen box could have been used by a wandering scribe, with the box being slipped under the belt of the user whilst walking.

This is a fine and charming example of a rare Mughal Indian writing box.


McWilliams M. & D. Roxburgh, Traces of the Calligrapher: Islamic Calligraphy in Practice c. 1600-1900, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2007.

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