SOLD 19th Century Antique French Snail Ink Well and Pen stand


Novelty French encrier (inkwell) in the form of a snail

Out of stock


Put all thoughts of Escargot out of your mind, this 19th French snail has a higher purpose than being part of the food chain. This particular snail forms part of a combined ink well and pen stand. The base is a brass dish with raised central boss on which sit two very stylised arms with forked ends to take a fill pen (these appear to be bronze but could be ormolu or even dulled brass). Between the arms is a disc with rope edge design which forms a “stopper”. This stopper is butted by the “snail”; cast in white ceramic/porcelain and mounted on an axle, the snail is the repository for the ink.

The design is such that the ink can neither spill when open or closed and the disc stops the ink from drying out when not in use. ON the side of the snail, forming the axle mounts discs inscribed “encrier (inkwell), J.L. Bascule, Paris”. This is not a unique item but still charming in its own way and a lovely collector’s item.


The piece is in fully working order, but has some signs of age…mostly through use there is ink staining on the brass where a stray nib has exuded before being applied to paper. I have not tried to clean this as it is a sign of the piece’s history but also at the risk of damaging the item. The ceramic is in fine condition for age with no chips, nibbles or cracks to the glaze.


  • 3.8 inches (9.75 cm) base diameter
  • 2 inches (5 cm) at highest point.
  • 2.75 in (7 cm) x 1.6 in (4.5 cm) snail
  • 2 in (5 cm) pen stand width


Parcel A – £8.50

Customers outside the UK, please contact us quoting the stock number and your location for a quote