This inkstand forms part of a distinct group of hitherto unattributed ormolu-mounted inkstands which all share a distinct similarity of design suggesting a common parentage. Included in this group is an example of ogee outline sold from the collections at Harewood House, Christie's London, 10 April 1986 lot 10 and subsequently in the
Gerstenfeld collection. The attribution is based on the existence of
two closely related silver-mounted inkstands dated 1808 bearing the
marks of Matthew Robinson Boulton (1770-1842), the son of Matthew
Boulton (1728-1809) the founder of the famous Soho Manufactory, Birmingham. Furthermore two designs for related inkstands in silver, each with very similar arrangement to the top and with gadrooned edges have been discovered in the Boulton Pattern Books, which are preserved in the Birmingham City Archives.
Whilst the elder Boutlon's acclaimed 'or-molu' production was in decline from 1778 and is thought to have slowly petered out in favour of other more profitable endeavours. In the early 1780s we know that the firm retained the ability to produce such wares after this date by the existence of a console table supplied to the elder Matthew Boulton and invoiced from Soho in 1799. This table interestingly included the mix of ormolu with gilt copper as we see in the present example with typical ormolu mounts to the lower part and a gilt copper tray to the top. It seems that by the time of the production of the present inkstand and its counterparts that the running of the business was probably entirely in the hands of the younger Boulton, who after the death of his father would continue with the business, largely focusing on the production of silver.
For further objects by Matthew Boulton see lots 548-551 in this sale.