Antique Austro Hungarian Leather Travel Inkwell & Desk

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  • Item Category: Tools
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Mar 11, 2008
  • Channel: Auction House

This is an antique leather travel desk. It was made between 1867 and 1918. The insignia on the metal lid of the inkwell has a dolphin around the anchor and a two-headed eagle above. Those are actually two symbols. The eagle is a symbol of power, and the double-headed eagle represents dual power. The dolphin around an anchor is a literary symbol - as in writing - as in traveling writing desk and inkwell.

"K.K. Priv." was the mark of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (which were represented by a double-headed eagle). The K.K. stands for Kaiserliche und Konigliche, which mean imperial and royal. The entire thing means imperial-royal privileged.

After the Compromise of 1867 (Ausgleich) established the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary, K.K. was used for and comprised agencies and institutions in the western part of the Habsburg empire ("kingdoms and lands represented in the Reichsrat") but not for the eastern part. The Dual Monarchy lasted until 1918, when it was dissolved in the aftermath of World War I.

The "desk" is like a notebook with an inkwell on top, along with a compartment for stamps. The inside has pockets for documents and paper and a writing board. T is also a loop on the outside for a pen. The tooled design denotes travel. At the top, t is a lady with a donkey, a flute playing man, a pig, a boy eating, and palm trees. Farther down, it looks like a Komodo dragon, a Polynesian warrior, a palm tree, monkeys, and a Polynesian king or queen. Farther down, t is a fish that is fishing, a ship, 3 fishermen, and a man riding an ostrich. Still farther, it looks like I see a man dressed like Cortez or De Soto greeting others, 2 people, ? , and ? At the bottom, t is an igloo, a reindeer, an eskimo or Russian with a sled, and what look to be missionaries in front of a building. (Close-up photos of these are below.)

The inkwell can come out. On the side of it is a crocodile, and on the bottom is an elephant. Inside is a glass bottle.

The desk is 11-1/4" long, 5-3/4" wide, 3/4" tall to the top of the "desk", 1-1/4" to the top of the stamp compartment, and almost 2" to the top of the inkwell. The inkwell itself is 1-1/2" wide and 1-3/8" tall. The stamp compartment is 2-3/4" long, by 2", and 13/16" deep. The back is strong material. The brown material inside feels like it might be silk. The pockets are leather. One lower edge is torn, and another lower edge is torn part way. The stamp compartment is made of leather. Its handle has lost a small piece of leather. T is some dried ink inside the bottle and the lid, and t are a few ink marks on the writing pad surface. The inkwell lid opens with a slight pull, or you can open it with a button if you take the inkwell out. The inside lid opens and closes nicely.

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