In the Victorian classroom, children started to use an ink pen when they were old enough to write in a copybook. Victorian pens had steel nibs, which had to be dipped constantly in an inkwell. Each school desk had a hole for an inkwell at the top right hand side. The inkwell was a small ceramic pot. One child was chosen to be ink monitor and was responsible for filling the inkwells for the whole class. The ink was kept in a large bottle and it was the monitor's job to pour ink from the bottle into each pot. These were then taken round the classroom and put in the hole in each child's desk.
The inkbottle shown here is made of ceramic. The label on the front says it is:
'Stephen's Blue-Black Writing Fluid', which is "pleasant to write with, retains its fluidity, and eminently suitable where permanence is essential".
A label on the back states that the bottle must be returned to the supplier when empty.
There are many tales of the problems caused by the use of ink and pens that needed to be dipped. Copybooks could be easily blotted (which was often a punishable offence) and ink would freeze during cold weather, making writing on paper impossible.