The box was acquired at a thrift shop, no known provenance. It consists of a metal body with curved sides and a lid with a small handle that sits on top without being secured in any way. The inside is unmarked.

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It has two symbols - one that appears to be a hotel logo (possibly a stylized monogram of a G with an inset F) and a strange skull or head with a small body.

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The box is too small for business cards, too big for matches, and not deep enough to fit more than a handful of cigarettes. It also doesn't rock well enough to be for blotter paper.

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I've tried searching for relevant terms and come up with nothing.

  • 1
    Fountain pen nibs?
    – Spencer
    Nov 25, 2023 at 22:51
  • 2
    A small sponge to moisten gummed postage stamps or envelope lids?
    – ccprog
    Nov 25, 2023 at 23:38
  • 7
    An ink pad container?
    – Steve Bird
    Nov 26, 2023 at 0:32
  • 1
    No definite answer, but it could be a container for a small soap bar, maybe used in a hotel somewhere?
    – arne
    Nov 26, 2023 at 21:03
  • Is there any chance of de-ciphering the apparent lettering over the head of the little person? It is more noticeable in the pic with the ruler. Or is it actually on the ruler? Between the 1 and the 2.
    – FlaStorm32
    Dec 2, 2023 at 3:05

3 Answers 3


I did not find the actual product, but the company in question seems to be satoshoji, with its character "Martian from the fourth planet of the Sun"

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  • Good find! Ought to provide a clue to when the box was made. When was Satoshoji founded? ( I didn't see it on the web page and google fails). That might provide additional clues.
    – MCW
    Nov 27, 2023 at 12:56
  • 1
    @MCW in their about page it is stated that it was "reorganized into Sato Shoji Corporation in 1949" - and the character had its 75th birthday in 2021, so it was created even before that in 1946. Nov 27, 2023 at 12:58
  • 3
    I've just dropped them an email, explaining, and seeking help. YNK :)
    – OldPadawan
    Nov 27, 2023 at 16:12
  • 1
    Also relevant is that the page says it can be found on cutlery at fancy hotels, which is supported by the hotel marking shown. Perhaps it's a toothpick holder.
    – user71659
    Nov 28, 2023 at 5:50
  • It looks like they're a company that make products out of metal, both industrial and domestic, it could well be "generic container {size} with lid"
    – Separatrix
    Nov 28, 2023 at 14:11

You thought it could be something but discarded the idea because it couldn't rock well. It seems to me that you were indeed right, this is probably for blotting paper, but it's missing a part. As you can see on this picture (even if it's a silver model), you would only have the brass/metal part.

I don't think it can be for powder because it's missing holes, to refill and to sand.

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Very often, as it's used and more fragile, the part with the paper is missing. Here are some models that look like yours.

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I keep searching, and it could also be ( /!\ opinion-based thoughts):

  1. a small soap box (but many boxes of the first half of the 20th century had an hinge)
  2. an ashtray
  3. a jewelry box

After @Christian found the origin of the stamp, I dropped the company an email. Here's their answer:

Thank you for your inquiry.

We make equipment used in hotels, but we do not know when this product was made. Also, we are no longer making this product. I'm sorry that I can't help you.

Thank you very much.

Best Regards,



  • So far, neither my knowledge/archives or Google lens have been fruitful regarding the monogram or the little person (which I've seen before, decades ago, can't just recall where...) so I can't help about the where it comes from part...
    – OldPadawan
    Nov 26, 2023 at 11:20
  • 4
    At times where ironing shirts was done with steel irons (especially collars and cuffs, which were often starched), I've seen small irons filled with embers that women/tailors would use to make a last minute dovetail on the collar/cuffs. It could be something a hotel would provide his rich customers with.
    – OldPadawan
    Nov 26, 2023 at 13:50
  • 1
    I like the suggestion, but I'd have expected a blotter to have been more curved underneath: the idea is that it would be /rolled/ over the writing to be blotted. A lot depends on whether any trace of clips etc. to hold it together can be seen. Nov 27, 2023 at 8:16
  • The hotel logo looks like a crescent moon. to me. The little man is a bit like the "wot no..." or "Kilroy" sketch, but alternatively could be a "squashed man" lending weight to the blotter suggestion. Nov 27, 2023 at 8:19
  • 2
    @OldPadawan: You may note that the blotter in the picture you posted is solid. It has a solid rocker on the bottom to apply pressure to the blotter and the paper. It has a large knob on top to put pressure on the blotter. The one in the question is hollow. It has a little bitty knob. The thing in the question is clearly not a blotter. It is a lightweight, hollow box of sheet metal with a lid and a little knob suitable for lifting a light lid. It is not suitable for applying the pressure needed to use a blotter.
    – JRE
    Nov 27, 2023 at 16:09

It's very likely a pounce pot, as described in another answer

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as a shaker, or in this Sotheby's auction

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as an actual pot matched to an inkwell and described as "English Cast Brass Inkwell and Pounce Pot Set, Circa 1800"

As noted in the other answer, pounce was any of various powders used to dry wet ink in place of blotting, or to size the surface prior to writing.

Modern pounce is generally coloured chalk, applied with a pad, often for transferring stencil patterns onto fabric.

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