The Crab Inkwell is one of the most unusual examples of metalwork produced by Tiffany Studios. Unlike the majority of inkwells produced by the company to coordinate with a larger Desk Set, the Crab Inkwell is a standalone design.
This striking cast bronze desk accessory takes the form of a Atlantic blue crab, an aquatic species native to the eastern seaboard. The highly naturalistic form is enhanced by chased details on the legs and claws. The carapace hinges open to reveal a recess for pen nibs, while the claws support a round inkwell with beaded rim and a hinged lid mounted with the original natural oyster shell. Both species were prevalent in New York Harbor at the turn of the twentieth century.
This unusual object may have been designed by Wesley Trippett, a metalworker who designed for Tiffany Studios in the 1890s, though a watercolor sketch of a similar crab species by “Tiffany Girl” Agnes Northrop may also have been utilized.
This example may be an early version of the model, or perhaps a prototype. The inkwell is signed with firm’s monogram and model number.
An example of this form is part of the Lewis Collection of Decorative Arts at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (85.84).
Height: 4 inches (10.2 cm)
Width: 7 ¾ inches (19.7 cm)
Depth: 7 ½ inches (19 cm)
John Loring, Louis Comfort Tiffany at Tiffany & Co., 2002, p. 195.