This leather case is fitted with dividers to hold a set of 6 Ransome's Patent Travel Inkwells.
Each inkwell is marked for an ink colour and the set comprises of Green, Yellow, Blue, Red, Brown and Black. They are a snug fit and the pull cord is necessary to lift them out of the case. As can be seen the central metal section of each inkwell is pushed through and moved along to sit at a right angle to the mahogany frame, for use. A push button releases the top. When not in use, the central section is held in place by a sprung ball bearing catch. The inkwell was designed by Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies Ltd. in 1861 but didn't take off until the stationers 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. However, this is the first set that we have seen and it can be considered rare.
By repute this set of inkwells originally belonged to an accountant on the White Star Line's Olympic. He also fought during WWI. It is possible he used them on board ship with the number of different colours useful in his accountancy work. Early 20th Century.
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.