This inkstand is part of a collection of some 60 items of historic Government silver, most of which were transferred to the Government Art Collection from the Privy Council Office. Many of the items were supplied by the Jewel House, the department of the Royal Household responsible for producing silver for British Government use.
The style of this inkstand, made in the late seventeenth century, is known as a 'Treasury' inkstand, named because of its use by the Privy Council. It is composed of a delicate silver box with two hinged lids to conceal the contents. Within the inkstand there is a specific place for each of the many items of apparatus used for letter writing at the time. There is a container for an ink pot, a compartment for a pen and another for pounce (a powdered gum used to prepare the paper). More commonly, inkstands would be in the form of a tray into which each of the writing accessories would fit.
The Royal Coat of Arms and the monogram 'AR' (for Queen Anne) are engraved on one of the two lids of the inkstand. On the other lid, the Royal crown and cipher (interwoven initials) can be seen. This piece is thought to have been made during the reign of James II, rather than Queen Anne. However, in the years after its production the earlier monarch's initials may have been erased and the inscription updated.
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