Another Thrown-Away Field Treasure


I find it hard to credit that this pretty little Victorian ink bottle was a throw-away item, of no more value than the empty juice cartons, tins and the general supermarket packaging trash that we junk attempt to recycle. They were cheap of course, perhaps a penny or two. The base is only 1.5 inches square (4 cms). When it was bought it would have had a cork stopper, suitably sealed. But once opened it was eminently functional. The neck is angled for easier nib dipping and then there are ridges across the top for resting one’s stick pen, and the ridged sides and heavier base would also make spillage less likely.

The one in the photo was found behind our old privies when we were having a hedge of alien snowberry dug out. Graham had a fine time pretending he was on Time Team and excavated quite a little stash – mostly medicine and condiment bottles. But this is my favourite find. It reminds me of Roman glass and I love the colour. I haven’t been able to get its innards quite clean of Silurian clag, but it’s just the thing for a single small flower, a rose bud for instance, one that some careless gardener has knocked off while not paying due care and attention.



Line Squares #30

47 thoughts on “Another Thrown-Away Field Treasure

  1. a veritable treasure trove behind the privie – this is a real gem and I particularly liked the bent bottle neck for ease of use – those Victorians thought of everything. Such a practical generation. Now I dread to imagine what our troves might look likewhen someone digs up our privies in years to come
    p.s. the field finds you turn over are also marvels (in previous post) – love the patterns and the sense of history under your feet.

    1. Hello Laura. That’s just it – the sense of history under one’s feet. But as for the ‘archaeology of us’ – the prospect is somewhat hair-raising. What will our discarded stuff say about us?

      1. I agree, Laura. We were out on the Severn Valley Railway yesterday, and all the stations on the line had been invaded by ghosts and ghouls, devils and skellies. Though part of me also thought it quite funny!

  2. What a wonderful find. Keep digging.
    In the space we once had a large garden we found buckets of stuff. Mostly nails and other metal objects.It was clear that the place was once someones dumping ground. Nothing as grand as an ink well.

  3. I too love the colour and also the ridges along each of the sides. The photo makes it look so much larger. I’m trying to imagine this tiny little bottle only an inch and half square.

      1. Well … chuck out all that stuff in Mister G’s shed for start and now you have space for you museum.
        Charge 5 quid a throw and before long you’ll have … ooh … a tenner!

      2. Moving in on THE shed is so tempting. Tho chucking out the lathe would require several able bodied chaps, and that might just be met with some serious resistance.

    1. Yes, and especially in relation to our cottage, and who might have lived here. We have a huge open hearth which makes us wonder if there was some industrial cottage industry going on here. Would the little bottle of ink have been used for keeping accounts? Tantalising questions.

    1. You are absolutely right about the biro. I used to have a very neat and legible hand when I used a fountain pen. Better connection between hand, pen, page and thought processes perhaps too.

  4. Love these things. I wondered why the neck was slanted… How clever.
    I learned to write with a “plume Sergent-Major” and a similar ink bottle.
    Couldn’t find the translation… a metallic quill? πŸ™‚

      1. You were lucky. Rather messy things. Imagine at 6, dipping the quill in the ink bottle. Splashing ink on your sheet, etc… πŸ˜‰
        Have a nice week-end, Mensahib

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.