In 2001, a remarkably rare and beautifully embossed ink bottle sold at auction for $18,700. It was one of the rarest ink bottles in the USA and was made by R.L, Higgins in Virginia City, Nevada. It was most likely made in the early 1870s, but no later than 1875 after a fire devastated Virginia City and Rufus Higgins' business. Rufus Higgins left Virginia City a year later, and records of him hiss ink seem to end there.
In 1880 Charles Higgins in New York began to sell Higgins Ink. The Higgins bottle we know and love came into being and was patented in 1899. This has become the iconic shape and size ink bottle that has been used, with various revisions, into the 21st century. Did the two men know each other? Were they related? We can only speculate on the origins of the ink, but the bottles themselves have had a long history.
The following are the design plans of the early
New York Higgins bottles.
Scroll through the gallery to see the early patents on the designs and an early bottle
Charles died in 1929, and his son Tracy took over the business. Since then, it has changed hands several times until Chartpak, Inc. purchased the company from Sanford, who had converted the bottle to plastic and sold it under their Design line of art products. Chartpak restored the branding to the original Higgins name in 2007.