Q: Why is there a mirror on my inkstand?

A: Inkstands, common desk accessories in the 18th and 19th centuries, held a container for ink, a pen tray or holder and other items needed for writing letters. Some had a candleholder and a pounce holder or sander for fixing the ink. The candle could be used to light the page, but it was also used to melt the wax that sealed the envelopes. We’ve seen traveling inkwells with hinged mirrored lids, and recently we’ve seen some inkstands with mirrors. While travelers may have used the mirror to check their appearance, we’re not sure why some inkstands have mirrors. A mirror does increase the light a candle throws, but there may be other reasons. Perhaps our readers have other suggestions.