Pen Case

1652 (made)
Pen Case thumbnail 1
Pen Case thumbnail 2
+1
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery
Artist/Maker

Object Type
This portable brass case would have held quill pens, sealing-wax and a glass bottle for ink. In the past it was convenient to carry writing materials for correspondence, as such items were scarce. The base of the case is engraved with the owner's seal and would have been used with sealing wax for letters and documents.

Maker
This brass pen case is one of a group of small brasswares produced by a craftsman working in Sheffield in the mid-17th century. This is one of the earliest dated items from the group and like the others has na‹ve foliage and scroll designs in punchwork.

The brasswares this craftsman produced bear dates ranging from 1652 (the date of the pen case) to 1656. The punchwork inscription 'I was in Sheffeid made & many can Witness: I was not made by any man' has been linked to another inscription, virgo me fecit ('a maiden made me'), found on similar small brass wares. Both refer to a maker of brasswares named Maden or Madin. A family of cutlers with this surname was working in Sheffield in the late 17th century and this craftsman was probably one of their forebears.

Design
Some of these sealing-wax cases are decorated with distinctly Royalist symbols, such as crowned portraits of Charles I. All the brass cases by this maker discovered so far bear dates within the period of the Commonwealth (1649-60). It has been suggested that they were made specifically for Royalist supporters. The cryptic inscriptions in Latin were an ingenious way of concealing the true identity of the maker at a time when Royalist sympathies were unfashionable and dangerous.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Pen Case
  • Inkwell
Brief Description
Pen-case and inkwell
Dimensions
  • Height: 11.2cm
  • Width: 2.5cm
  • Depth: 4cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Inscribed 'Virgo me fecit in Sheffield 1652'
Gallery Label
British Galleries: BOX, PEN-CASE AND SEALING-WAX CASE
A Sheffield craftsman named Madin or Maden made these pieces, who signed his work 'Virgo', a pun on 'maiden'. The sealing wax case carries a portrait of Charles I on the hinge. If Madin worked for Royalist clients this may explain his disguised name and cryptic inscriptions.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by the Rev. E. F. Russell, on behalf of Frederick Gill
Production
Signed and dated 1652
Summary
Object Type
This portable brass case would have held quill pens, sealing-wax and a glass bottle for ink. In the past it was convenient to carry writing materials for correspondence, as such items were scarce. The base of the case is engraved with the owner's seal and would have been used with sealing wax for letters and documents.

Maker
This brass pen case is one of a group of small brasswares produced by a craftsman working in Sheffield in the mid-17th century. This is one of the earliest dated items from the group and like the others has na‹ve foliage and scroll designs in punchwork.

The brasswares this craftsman produced bear dates ranging from 1652 (the date of the pen case) to 1656. The punchwork inscription 'I was in Sheffeid made & many can Witness: I was not made by any man' has been linked to another inscription, virgo me fecit ('a maiden made me'), found on similar small brass wares. Both refer to a maker of brasswares named Maden or Madin. A family of cutlers with this surname was working in Sheffield in the late 17th century and this craftsman was probably one of their forebears.

Design
Some of these sealing-wax cases are decorated with distinctly Royalist symbols, such as crowned portraits of Charles I. All the brass cases by this maker discovered so far bear dates within the period of the Commonwealth (1649-60). It has been suggested that they were made specifically for Royalist supporters. The cryptic inscriptions in Latin were an ingenious way of concealing the true identity of the maker at a time when Royalist sympathies were unfashionable and dangerous.
Collection
Accession Number
M.201&:2-1914

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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