In a story by Denton Welch I came across this fragment:

"... and playing with the scent bottles, matchboxes and engagement tablets of old cracked ivory-the cracks were black, like my nails when I was sent to scrub them". [Denton Welch, 'The Trout Stream']

What are "engagement tablets"? I can guess it's something small, ivory-colored, with cracks. Engagement ring boxes, perhaps? :)

1 Answer 1


I found this online. It appears to be an elaborate pocket book with an ivory page for each month. Presumably you could write down your engagements (appointments) for that month in pencil and wipe the page clean for re-use when the month was over.

  • Many thanks, Kate! It remains to find an equivalent in my language. Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 11:10
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    @DmitryAcemonte The modern term for the equivalent would be "diary, datebook, daybook, appointment book, planner or agenda" Check the "Languages" section of the corresponding Wikipedia page (lower left of desktop site/near top of mobile site) for foreign language equivalents.
    – R.M.
    Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 22:46
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    @R.M. - Don't forget that the passage the OP is asking about describes an antique object made of ivory, not a modern pocket diary! Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 8:24
  • @KateBunting That seems to be a fancy holder for the book.
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 14:11
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    @Barmar - The description says "ivory tablets in a tortoiseshell cover". It's my impression they are wipe-clean sheets of ivory. Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 14:20

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