The Victoria and Albert Museum
The set consists of an inkstand, a candlestick, a penholder, a seal, and a card holder. The inkstand is rectangular, veneered with rectangular plaques of mother-of-pearl and inlaid with a horizontal stringing of ebony. It features hollowed-out areas to support the candlestick and penholder. The candlestick takes a similar rectangular shape. It, too, is veneered with rectangular plaques of mother-of-pearl, the whole length of which is inlaid with two vertical strings of ebony per side. The top offers a circular silver-plated inset to hold a candle.
The matching penholder is veneered with similar plaques of mother-of-pearl and strings of ebony with the top boasting a circular silver-plated inset to hold pens. Meanwhile, the seal of matching materials has a top with a square silver-plated inset. And, finally, the card holder is rectangular with one side higher than the other, the sides are veneered with rectangular plaques of mother-of-pearl, and inlaid with vertical stringing of ebony. The sloping top features a rectangular inlaid pocket of leather.
Small luxury objects such as this, veneered in mother-of-pearl, were produced in great numbers in Vienna in the Biedermeier period (1815-1840). About sixty years later, the designers of the Wiener Werkstätte Co. reintroduced the material, but the shape of the early Twentieth-Century pieces is squarer with more geometrical applied adornment. By 1912, sets such as this one sold for tremendous amounts of money.