This flowered inkstand-dish was conceived by George Bullock (d. 1818) as a golden libation-patera. Its mosaiced compartments of flowered arabesques of Roman acanthus are boulle-inlaid in rose-coloured shell after the George IV or Louis Quatorze fashion. Its meander border of native honey-suckle vine wreaths a pen-feather tray and glass-crystal ink-jars (now lacking).
A rectangular tray ink-stand conceived from the same drawing (inscribed 'Mr. Boulton') as the present ink-stand was supplied to Matthew Robinson Boulton (d. 1842) for Tew Park in 1817 for the sum of £12 and sold by the late Major Eustace Robb, Tew Park, Great Tew, Christ ie's house sale, 27-29 May 1987, lot 13 (£7,700). Alternatively, the pattern may have been invented for Queen Charlotte, who was a visitor to Bullock's premises that had been established in the Grecian Rooms, Piccadilly in 1812. One such inkstand described as 'A very sumptuous circular ink-stand, of the late George Bullock's Buhl manufacture with richly cut glass' was included in the Queen's effects sold anonymously in these Rooms, as 'The Remaining part of a valuable Collection of Curiosities [works of art]…', 24-26 May 1819, lot 38. Following his death 'at his house in Tenterden Street, Hanover Square' George Bullock was described as having 'carried taste, in the design of furniture, to a higher pitch than it was ever carried before in this country' (Annals of the Fine Arts, VIII, 1819, pp. 321-322). The Royal ink-stand is likely to have comprised this version of the pattern partly flowered in white mother-of-pearl. One such inkstand, similar to the present lot, was sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 13 April 1989, lot 6 (£28,600) and again at Christie's, London, 16 November 1995 lot 317, (£17,250) and illustrated in M. Levy, 'Taking up the Pen', Country Life, 23 April 1992, p. 61. Patterns for the bowl of the plate and its raised rim feature in the Bullock Wilkinson tracings in the Birmingham City Museums and Art Gallery (M.3.74).
This pattern of ink-stand, but lacking the mother-of-pearl embellishment, was most recently sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 10 April 2003, lot 1 (£10,157).