Digger Odell Publications 2008

Ink bottles are popular with collectors because not only do they come in a variety of dazzling colors, shapes and ages but they reflect America's past. Inks are a diverse category and were made in many forms and media. One can find the lowly unembossed clear ink bottles of the turn of the century which were made at the same time as the Tiffany Studios in New York were making decorative artistic glass inkwells covered with Art Deco designs. Perhaps more than in any other category of bottle collecting, ink bottles and inkwells reflect the full range of socio-economic levels. Unlike other bottle collecting category, ink bottles often were personal. They sat in full view on desks and counters and because of this much thought was put into the design. Ink bottles were to be seen and so they are often colorful and gracefully shaped unlike their cousins, bulk inks, which were more utilitarian in nature and less attractive in form and design. Because of their attractiveness, many 19th century ink bottles have survived.

Collectors have divided ink bottles into a number of categories based on their size, such as master inks and bulk inks or their shape, such as umbrella inks, sided inks, cylindrical inks; and other characteristics like pottery inks and foreign inks. Inkwells as opposed to ink bottles are another category. Inkwell were to be refilled from ink bottles but some ink bottles bear a resemblance to inkwells with their decorative styles.

What inks are the most valuable? Like in other bottle collecting categories, color, size and age dictate the market. Below are a variety of the kinds of ink bottles and wells that are highly sought after.


 Get Your Copy Today


248 pages -1480 photos

Teakettle inks, like the ones above are more inkwell than ink bottle.  While many of these were manufactured in foreign countries, many were also made in America.  Teakettles are highly collectible and one identifying characterisitic is the spout off one side, giving them a "teakettle" sort of look.  Teakettle Ink bottles such as those pictured above will sell for many hundreds of dollars.
Among the earliest ink bottles are the blown geometric ink bottles.  These colorful and decorative pieces were being collected even in the early 1900s. They generally date in the early years of the 19th century and are mostly found in the Eastern States wee they were blown in many early glass factories. Unusual coloration and decoration are key signs to look for in determining the value of these beautiful artifacts. Examples like the one on the left in cobalt, will sell for thousands of dollars.
Figural inks are also very popular with collectors.  These come in a wide variety of shapes and colors which can make for a fascinating collections. Cottage inks and barrel inks are the more common types.  The example on the left is an English cottage ink. most figural inks sell for hundreds of dollars.
It is not hard to see why collectors like umbrella ink bottles.  they are one of the most attractive designed bottles and come in a wide range of styles and colors.  Most were made between 1840-1870.  collectors like the odd colors and unusual shapes as seen in the first two examples.
Master inks trump all with their color, size and age.  The Harrison's shown at the left sold for $30,000 (thirty-thousand) dollars!!! But who could resist a nice Eastern bulk master ink like the puce example shown at the right.  No embossing but a great color.

Learn more in Digger's 2008 Ink Bottle Price Guide.

248 pages - 1480 photos