Wooden Tray for Writing Tools

Wooden Tray for Writing Tools

Wooden Tray for Writing Tools

Each of the 100 desks in the Senate Chamber holds a detachable wooden tray made for writing tools. The recessed trays are located in the upper right corner of each desk (with one exception) and contain three distinct compartments.

The inkwell, located in the far right section of the tray, consists of a metal box with a hinged lid and a cobalt-blue glass liner for ink. The sander, located in the far left section of the tray, is made of clear glass with a perforated twist-on metal top for shaking blotting sand. Between the two compartments is a concave basin to accommodate pens and pencils.

When ink quills/pens were commonplace pounce or sand was gently sprinkled on freshly written documents to absorb and quickly dry the ink. By the early 20th century, sanders and inkwells were made obsolete with the use of blotting paper and fountain pens. However, in keeping with tradition, the Senate has retained its inkwells, sanders, and trays which date to the 1930s. An integral aesthetic and historic part of the desks, the wooden trays and their containers play an important role in telling the history of the Senate Chamber desks.