This is a fine old plain undecorated utilitarian Yatate from the last Edo period, circa 1839-1850. It measures 8/ 3"long - the stem is 1.2: in circumference and the inkwell is 1 1/4I diameter - it weighs 130 grams. The condition is generally fine. There are a couple of dents in the stem from long use and age - but the piece is still quite usable. You can still see cakes of the ink in the ink holder at the end of the yatate. What might appear as a crack in the lid of the ink holder in photo # 3 is actually caked ink.
Yatate (矢立) are small personal smoking-pipe-shaped writing sets from medieval Japan which provided a carrying box for the ink cotton, and a shaft for a brush (and possibly a letter opener). Japanese writing was traditionally done using the writing set inspired from China: an inking stone, a small stick of solid ink (sumi) (which is turned to usable liquid ink by grinding on the inking stone and watering), and brushes. The complete set was easily portable and took time to prepare the materials for writing.
During the Kamakura era (1185–1333), the idea of ink-saturated cotton was developed. By touching a calligraphy brush to the cotton, one could ink the bristles with reduced risk of dripping or spilling ink. By enclosing the cotton in a little box ("sumi tsubo"), a writing set was made convenient and portable. The first yatate were long boxes, with the ink compartment in the axis of the pen. The "smoking pipe" shape was designed to increase the quantity of available ink.