Antique Gillott Nib Boxes – Pretty Irresistible

TWO WEEKS !  I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted.  I don’t know how you daily posters do it.  (slaps hand to forehead as a sign of frustration)

So what have I been doing?  Nibs.  Gillott nibs to be exact mixed in with my love of little boxes.  A few years back I found some boxes of nibs at a second hand store.  I knew what ‘nibs’ were – those little metal pointy units you put on the end of a ‘pen holder’ dip in ink, and beautiful copperplate writing just flows out like magic.


Anyways, these boxes of nibs were just soooo gorgeous and tiny.  Each one of these boxes had a decorative paper cover that was a beautiful blue and white oriental motif and regardless of what was inside, I had to have the pretty little boxes.

Well, as it turned out I wound up with a rather rare nib – The Gillott 604 EF, as well as, those boxes.  A new passion was born within me and is reflected in my Etsy shop Old Raven which now has an extensive Gillott’s nib selection.  Click the link below to investigate my “Calligraphy & Pen Items” category.


Joseph Gillott made nibs from the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s and was awarded the title “Pen Maker to the King”.  Based in England, Gillott manufactured literally millions of nibs which he sold in England of course, but also exported in mass to America as we didn’t have any pen (aka nib) makers here, yet.  But even when America started producing her own nibs they were nothing like J. Gillott’s which were then, and are now, simply the best.

So do you like my nib box collage at the top of the page?  That’s where my attention has been for the last couple of weeks – tracking down and buying Antique Gillott Nibs (with boxes) which are not easy to find and generally fairly expensive when you do.


At Old Raven, I’ve decided to expand my Antique/Vintage Gillott line.  No one knows just how many different types of nibs old Gillott actually made over the years but if there was a need for a nib to perform a particular function – Gillott met the challenge.


And for the calligrapher, artist or nib neophyte I have steadily been building an astounding collection of Vintage Gillott nibs, but know that I’m in the grip of obsession here and will continue to enlarge my selection as often and frequently as possible.  Not only are these nibs the highest quality of their era they’re each and everyone a little time machine.  Imagine writing with a nib from the time when nibs were at the pinnacle of their perfection.  Pure artistry.


But of course, that’s not all.  Look at these little boxes – they’re beautiful.  I’ve always seen those days of one hundred plus years ago as being brown, black and beige.  But these boxes are truly lovely and rich with color.  There’s everything from metallic embossing, to dreamy watercolors to detailed monochromatic art.


And remember, these are small boxes meant to hold small nibs.  A full box of nibs was called a “gross” or 144 nibs.  You could also purchase quarter gross boxes.

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This little red and gold box is only 1½” x 1″ – tiny! (and quite adorable)

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But this one is my favorite (so far).  It’s no secret that I love an aged patina and this one came with a floral pattern on a crackle tone look – right up my “distressed” alley.  I love it!

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The oldest boxes came with an ornate band or seal each of which had the information of what type of nib was inside, but they also ‘factory sealed’ the box.  The seals and the decorative papers make each one of these little boxes a tiny present to be opened.

Did you notice the smaller little blue box?  This one was shaped more like a match box and was probably from the latter days of Gillott’s, perhaps the 1910’s or 20’s. It’s not as pretty as it’s predecessors but you have to admit – a Zoo Pen?  But though I’ve researched to the best of my abilities I can’t come up with a clue as to what ‘specialty’  a “Zoo” pen performed, exactly.


However, for all the art and color on the front of these boxes, the backs were serious.  Unfortunately, it isn’t just our century that has knock offs and unlicensed product floating around out there.  This was J. G.’s answer to those who would attempt to trade unlawfully upon his good name and reputation.  Each box had very clear labeling declaring how to spot the real deal and the ripoffs.


You can’t get much clearer than that!  But WOW – check out all those colors!  I’m hooked – I love these boxes and have spent a LOT of time tracking down information about the nibs they contain and in the process, have learned much about the man and his company.   Not only did Gillott use the finest steel for nib production, he employed hundreds of workers (many of them women) of whom he paid well, offered very good working conditions (especially for the time) and was very progressive in thinking that a good wage and happy work place equaled superior product.

But don’t think I’m going to let those pretty boxes just sit.


The top box is the original Antique cardboard box and the bottom is a metal tin nib storage container.


I copied the original box front and back and then glued each section securely and finished with a clear sealer.

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Most nib enthusiasts have multiple varieties of nibs that they favor and these tins are a handy way to keep them separated and organized.  But of course it’s not lost on the collector that they’re nib storage is an exact replica of an 1800’s nib box.

Each of my latest box/nib additions are currently in the process of being converted into these handy storage tins.  These also make great little pill boxes or mint tins, too.

And before I go, what are my spoiled animals up to today?


What’s a blog without something a little racy?  Can you say ‘slut puppy’?  Bella is happy to snuggle with her current favorite toy while she gets brushed out after a hike in the foothills, which was obviously quite exhausting for her.


While Smokey claims the center of a King size bed and her ‘Love’ pillow.  Yeah, it’s a rough life for critters in this house.  I’m so ashamed.

Thanks for cruzin’ with me – have a good one. – Kriss



2 thoughts on “Antique Gillott Nib Boxes – Pretty Irresistible

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