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Ottoman Calligrapher’s Pen Box

Ottoman Turkey
circa 1850

length: 25.5cm, diameter: 3.2cm



UK art market

This elegant and sleek calligrapher’s pen case comprises a steel tube, with variously fitted compartments, overlaid with gold. Sections unscrew to reveal a tube in which quills or reeds were stored, an ink pot (with ink residue) and a sander, used to sprinkle sand on the written word to help it to dry without smudging. The sander and the ink pot have their own lids.

The tube is decorated with borders and cartouches of floral and leafy scrolls and arabesques.

There is a small maker’s mark in Arabic to one end.

Such an item would have been used by an important calligrapher who was tasked with writing Koranic verses or important government documents.

The gold is applied by first scoring the surface of the steel and then impressing the gold onto the scored surface.

The set here is in fine condition with almost no loss to the gold overlay.



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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