Writing Instruments

This category contains tools as varied as the ancient stylus and quill pen through to the fountain pen and typewriter. It can also include related paraphernalia such as inkwells and writing cases.

Ian Fleming’s specially created gold-plated Royal Quiet Delux typewriter which he used to write at least some of his legendary 007 books is a prime example from the top-end of this sector, selling for over £56,000 at a sale held by Christie’s London in 2007.


Waverley typewriter,

Pick of the week: Short production window is key to typewriter’s rarity

27 November 2023

The writing was on the wall for the Waverley not long after it entered the market in 1895.

Declaration and seal

Ivory seal deemed to be of ‘outstanding’ value comes to Cirencester auction

02 October 2023

The sale at Moore Allen & Innocent on October 11-12 includes a series of personal items relating to William Duke of Clarence, later William IV (1765-1837).

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Desirable Doulton: inkwells and ashtray

28 August 2023

The most eagerly contested lot in a recent sale at Potteries Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) was a Doulton stoneware Isobath inkwell.

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Dip into the Grand Tour with a sarcophagus inkstand

21 August 2023

This 19th century carved Siena marble inkstand is fashioned in the form of an ancient Roman sarcophagus.

Mottisfont seal matrix

Rare medieval seal matrix bought by the National Trust at auction returns to its original home after 500 years

01 August 2023

A rare medieval seal matrix that was found by a metal detectorist in a field and offered at auction will now go on display at its original home.

Kangxi jardiniere

Chinese jardinière selling for 194-times estimate features in our pick of five auction highlights

26 May 2023

ATG’s weekly selection of items that caught bidders’ eyes includes a Chinese blue and white jardinière that sold for 194 times its top estimate.

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Edison Electric Pen turned out to be good for tattooing, not so for copying

20 February 2023

Thomas Edison’s electric pen might not have flourished as planned for the purpose of duplicating documents but if you have a tattoo you can be thankful.

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Top stories this week – including news of an auction record for a Dunhill ‘aquarium’ lighter

08 January 2023

The most popular stories on this website over the last week included news of a Dunhill ‘Aviary’ lighter sparking a bidding battle at Chiswick Auctions.

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Dunhill ‘Aviary’ lighter sparks a bidding battle at Chiswick Auctions

02 January 2023

An auction record was set for an Alfred Dunhill ‘aquarium’ lighter at Chiswick Auctions.

1616359 Inkstand, NTI James Dobson

National Trust snaps up Castlereagh’s silver inkstand ahead of exhibition

11 August 2022

The National Trust has acquired a silver inkstand used by Viscount Castlereagh (1769-1822), the Anglo-Irish politician and statesman.

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Qwerty spelt the end for the Niagara

11 April 2022

The Blickensderfer Typewriter Co of Stanford, Connecticut, introduced the Niagara ‘index’ typewriter in 1902.

Charles I inkstand

Rare silver inkstand makes its mark among latest London auctions

12 July 2021

The overall performance of the latest London sales of Old Master pictures and ‘important’ works of art was fairly mixed but the auction houses did at least welcome the return of some big-ticket items.

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Fountain pens: How the East and West signed up to a lucrative deal

08 February 2021

The 1920s deal between Ryosuke Namiki and Alfred Dunhill to make luxury pens for the Western market created some of the most collectable fountain pens.

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Qwerty minded: typewriters tempt bidders in German sale

27 April 2020

Specialist auction house sells early versions hailing from the US

Jackson Type I typewriter

Jackson Type I typewriter, Waterloo officer’s pistols and Lord Mayor’s letter – five auction highlights that caught bidders’ eyes

10 April 2020

ATG’s selection of hammer highlights this week includes a rare early typewriter that sold above estimate in Germany.

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Rare offering of fountain pens draws bidders in Cornwall

09 December 2019

In a large collection of fountain pens offered at Cornish auction house Barbara Kirk (15% buyer’s premium) most well-known makers were represented, but among the rarer ones were no fewer than 19 by the Italian manufacturer Omas.

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Hammer to go down on 40 years of collecting hole punches at Lichfield auction

19 August 2019

Antique stationery fans have plenty of purchasing choices: from writing slopes and desks, to ink stands and stationery boxes. But for the true connoisseur have they thought of collecting hole punches?

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Early typewriter pushes all the right buttons at German auction

27 May 2019

An example of the first commercially produced typewriter – one of only five in private hands – has sold for €100,000 at auction in Germany.

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Young visitor numbers on the rise at Bloomsbury pen fair

24 September 2018

The annual London Writing Equipment Show at the Holiday Inn in Bloomsbury on Sunday October 7 will be a sell-out, says coorganiser Jeremy Collingridge.

William Morris pen

William Morris’ pen and paint brush sell for £2200 at Dorset auction

23 July 2018

A quill and paint brush belonging to William Morris drew significant interest at Duke’s latest Art and Design sale in Dorchester.

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