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Barton Inkstands

Posted on 22 May 2018



Thomas Barton’s frequently labelled his work but even in the absence of a label, his Tunbridge Ware is amongst the easiest to identify. Distinctive designs and choice of veneers, often including a liberal amount of green wood that has been attacked by fungus, are characteristics of much of his work.


Our Object of the Month for June is one such example. Veneered in coromandel and with typical Barton borders, this inkstand has many of the familiar characteristics associated with his work.This has got us thinking about Barton’s inkstands and how many we have seen over the years. We have therefore chosen a few from our image library, which we hope you might enjoy.




Barton seemed to favour fairly large rectangular inkstands with one or two inkwells. It is interesting to note that the same geometric border occurs on many of his inkstands.





The border on this inkstand is however, a scrolling foliage pattern, very typical of that used by Edmund Nye and probably inherited by Barton, when he took over Nye’s business in 1863. 






Less frequently found is this small rectangular inkstand illustrated below with a detachable carrying handle, doubling as a seal and with two containers for sealing wax. 





The most unusual Barton inkstand that we have owned is this fine hexagonal example, again with the same geometric border, which features on a couple of the inkstands above. 





We are interested to note that we do not have an example of a small circular or very small rectangular inkstand by Barton. Have we just missed owning one? Or did he simply not make them? I am sure someone will let us know!