Museum Stories on Saturdays: "From a goose-quill to a fountain pen" (video)

Writing appliances history dates back to Ancient East, then they appeared in Ancient Greece, and from there they spread throughout Europe.

Since the 18th century, when private correspondence became fashionable on the top notch of the European society, writing appliances gradually became a real centerpiece of the desktop. Artisans created writing sets to fit every taste - massive and graceful, pretentious and elegant. The cases were made in different styles and from various materials - gold, silver, ivory, mother-of-pearl, wood, decorated with diamonds, pearls, enamels and painting. Sometimes writing sets were marked with the owner coat of arms or monogram, were supplemented with clocks, mirrors or small secret built-in drawers. The correspondence confidentiality and security was maintained by usage of personal seals attached to the device. Writing appliances quality and value reflected a person cultural and social status.

The 19th century in Europe and in Russia became the heyday of writing sets and cabinet décor production. Travel writing sets appeared as well. A travel device was a wooden case that could be covered with leather or fabric. The items necessary for writing were located on velvet cradle inside the case – a fountain a pen, a pencil, a paper knife, an inkwell with lid; the device could include a personal seal or some other items. The small size made it easy to place the necessary stationery in the smallest space.

Unlike a travel writing set, a desktop writing set could have the most whimsical shape - it could be stylized as a particular piece of interior, it could have the shape of a house or a turret, repeat the shape of a musical instrument - everything depended on the imagination of the author or a customer desire. The device could be made of silver or other metal, or it could be carved from decorative stone. Writing sets with a built-in musical mechanism were created as well. In addition to the items necessary for writing, the table device could include blotting-books and matchboxes, ashtrays, stamp boxes, bells and even sand.

You will learn more about the story behind writing sets in the new issue of the "Museum Stories".

Writing sets are presented in the museum Collection in the sections "Objects with Movement” and “Russian Metal Artworks”.