As I was studying this summer, I de-stressed from time to time by engaging in a little retail therapy. Among the pen related items I purchased was this fantastic vintage pen tray. The seller advertised the tray as an authentic lacquered piece with gold accents from the early 1800s.
In years gone by, before the age of the fountain pen, when dip pens were the primary writing tool, writers needed a place to put their pens to prevent ink from getting all over their table, blotter, or writing surface. Their solution: the pen tray.
It was typical of finer pen trays to have arms, or a small rack, protruding from the tray [example 1, example 2] to hold the pen above the tray's surface, to avoid getting ink all over the pen. My tray doesn't have this feature, so it's possible [example 3] that it was not originally intended as a pen tray at all. It is possible that my little tray was instead used as a calling card tray - to present visitor's cards to the lady of the house holding visiting hours in her parlor [example 4]. Then again, it's possible that this tray just isn't authentic at all.
While the tray certainly is lacquered, and it does have some wear and tear, it's unclear to me whether it is faux vintage or authentic vintage. It would be neat if the tray actually were 200-ish years old, but I'm not going to put many eggs in that wishful basket. Oh well, whether it's an authentic piece from the turn of the 19th century or a great buy from TJ Maxx, I still can't wait to display it on my future desk.