Skip to main content

Collection The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

Lincoln Inkwell

A 360 degree rotational view of the Lincoln inkwell; a gift from Charles D. Proston.. Requires Flash.

Move mouse across image to rotate | Click to zoom in or out

Lincoln inkwell. A gift to Abraham Lincoln from Charles D. Poston in 1865. Posten was Arizona Territory's first Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Made of sterling silver from Poston's mine. Impressed or otherwise affixed on the inkwell: Abraham Lincoln. Charles D. Posten, Arizona 1865. Ditat Deus. E Pluribus Unum.

The inkwell is sculptural with three figures atop an architectural base with ball in claw feet. The central figure (Columbia, dressed in toga with sword, wreath and shield) is attached to a hand bell which is removable from the base. The side figures depict a seated Indian (right) and a seated frontiersman (left). At the four corners are lamp-like architectural ornaments. Each is numbered below the base and under each ornament (visible when dismantled). They may have been intended to hold pens.

The front of the base is engraved with "Abraham Lincoln" and the back "From Charles D. Posten Arizona 1865." In the front around the circular center ring is a relief: "E Pluribus Unum: surrounded by an incised line. On the ring below this is engraved "ditat deus".

The inkwell is composed of many parts which are removable from the base. The appendages are held by screws. Behind the front and back engraved name plates are compartments. The front one has two holes accessible from the top and would seem to be for dipping into ink. Each hole has a small saucer dish which is easily removable. The drawer in the back has a lid (removable), and may have been used for extra pen nibs or possibly sand. Each drawer is held in place by a small lever.

 Back to top