A smaller than standard size, nickel plated Patent Casket Ink by De La Rue & Co.
The outer 'casket' case of this portable inkwell gives it the belt and braces effect to make doubly sure that it doesn't open during travel and spill. The casket is hinged to open and lined in a thin leather skiver to give a tight fit to the removable inkwell. The inkwell lid opens by depressing the sprung button to access the glass bottle inside.
The casket is marked De La Rue & Co. Patent Casket Ink to the round window. Below that its also marked Manufactured in Paris, Thos. De La Rue & Co. London & Paris. The other side of the casket has a rectangular window which is sized for the inkwell to stand up in to give it added stability when used. The inkwell has the same information noted as the casket.
A number of unnamed inkwells were made to a similar design to this inkwell but they didn't give the outer case. De La Rue made this a selling point with the inkwell being far safer to avoid spillage than others.
This inkwell is smaller than the standard size De La Rue Casket by approximately 1/4 inch all round. The standard sized Casket can be seen in our Archive section under Desk Items or simply search De La Rue in the box above. Circa 1900.
Thomas De La Rue formed the company in Guernsey in 1813 before moving to London in 1821 to set up as a printer, stationer and fancy goods manufacturer.
The business was a great success and innovative. By the middle of the 19th century they were producing both fiscal and postage stamps for the government before moving into the printing of money. They became London stationers of great renown that produced a large variety of items from portable inkwells and business cards to pocket travel chess sets and playing cards.
A number of retailers sold their wares including the Army & Navy C.S.L., Edwards & Sons of 161 Regent St. London (stationers & dressing case makers) and Harrods.
As far as travel items are concerned, they are perhaps best known for the Ransome Patent Inkwell, several of which are illustrated on this website. The inkwell was designed by Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies Ltd. in 1861 but didn't take off until De la Rue licensed the design. It was made in at least 3 sizes and we have seen examples in leather, all metal and silver. They also sold sets of inkwells to hold various different colours of ink.
The company is still in existence.