Friday, 4 May 2012

Pen, Paper, and Office Supplies: A Charles Dickens Collection

The Law-Writer

“On the eastern borders of Chancery Lane, that is to say, more particularly in Cook’s Court, Cursitor Street, Mr. Snagsby, law-stationer, pursues his lawful calling. In the shade of Cook’s Court, at most times a shady place, Mr. Snagsby has dealt in all sorts of blank forms of legal process; in skins and rolls of parchment; in paper – foolscap, brief, draft, brown, white, whitey-brown, and blotting; in stamps; in office-quills, pens, ink, India-rubber, pounce, pins, pencils, sealing-wax, and wafers; in red tape and green ferret; in pocket-books, almanacs, diaries, and law-lists; in string boxes, rulers, inkstands – glass and leaden – pen-knives, scissors, bodkins, and other small office-cutlery; in short, in articles too numerous to mention, ever since he was out of his time and went into partnership with Peffer.”

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, 1852-1853.

See the explanations of such terms as follscap, whitey-brown and green ferret in Orange Crate Art.

Photo: Charles Dickens' desk. By Lito Apostolakou. Courtesy of Charles Dickens House Museum.


  1. Pounce is still around; I saw draftsmen using it back in the 1970s. Those "pins" I'll guess refer to banker's pins, long straight pins packed in a cardboard cylinder and used to fasten papers together. They were still available in the States as recently as the 1980s. Jack/USA

  2. This post shows that there are great artist on the late are. And the things that their use is like what we use now.

  3. This reminds me of my grandfather's office. At the time, I thought I would be using similar supplies when I grew up, but instead it's all laptops and glitchy software. At least I still have desk like Dickens.

  4. Palimpsest, Carrie, tyranid---years ago in Connecticut I saw an exhibit that included the desk used by a Spanish conquistador. It was small, possibly a shipboard desk, but if my memory's okay, lathered with precious metals and decorative jewels. I've seen nothing like it since. Jack/USA

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