This intriguing Black Forest inkwell has been meticulously hand carved from wood and dates to 19th century Switzerland.
The piece depicts two men attempting to milk a cow. The man wearing a hat is struggling to control the cow by pulling on the bovine’s tail; his bespectacled partner is situated next to the cow in an attempt to milk it.
The ground immediately beneath these three figures is a rocky formation of varying height. Below this is a wooden terrain that also has quite a lot of depth. Among the forest-like environment, there are two indentations that house the colored and cut glass inkwells. The colored portions of the mushroom-shaped wells are a rustic orange that ties in nicely with the dark brown wood used in the carving. The wells are then capped with silvered lids. One of the glass containers has a perforated top, which would have held the pounce or sand (pounce pot). This would have permitted the writer to sprinkle the sand on the paper before inking to aid in the drying process. Excess pounce was often poured back into the container.
The milk cows are an important part of the Swiss culture and not often portrayed in Black Forest carvings. The cow seen here is most likely a Braunvieh, which was a type of cow from the Alpine region that were bred for three specific uses: to aid with farm labors, to be milked, and to be used as food. This type of cow is sometimes referred to as a Brown Swiss. The milk from these cows is highly sought after, due to the fact that the cream takes longer to rise, making this an ideal milk for making cheese.
The detail of the motifs, as well as the different layers of carvings, is what really make this Black Forest inkwell special. It would look wonderful on an office desk or in a library/study.
CONDITION: Very good condition with minor rubs and wear. Small loss to milking stool leg.