It has been rightly said by Mark Twain, “The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice”. Ink was originally used to draw and paint on the walls of caves. Eventually, it became a means to spread knowledge, when Johann Gutenburg invented the printing press in Germany, in the mid-1500s. Ironically, there is no definitive history of ink, even when it is, in itself, a medium to preserve historical archives. It has been in existence since the dawn of humankind. Some early methods of preparing ink included using a mixture of soot from wood smoke and oil that was thickened with gelatin from the animal skins and musk. Read on further to know more interesting and amazing information on the history, origin and background of ink.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Ink
Over 1700 years ago, the Chinese developed solid ink, in the form of sticks or cakes. They used soot and animal glue to produce it. They then shaved off bits of it and mixed them with water, to produce instant ink whenever they had to write something. This ink was used throughout East Asia for traditional calligraphy, with brushed or bamboo pens. Various colored juices, extracts and suspensions of substances from plants, animals and minerals, including alizarin, indigo, pokeberries, cochineal and sepia, were used to develop ink at that time. For centuries, soluble iron salt was mixed with an extract of tanning and used as writing ink. This is still the basis of modern blue-black inks.
In the 11th century, the Chinese developed block printing with heavier, more gelatinous inks. In Medieval Europe, scribes used parchments instead of paper. But, since parchment papers were greasy, carbon inks performed poorly on them. Various experiments were carried out to produce a suitable ink and finally, iron gall inks were invented, by mixing tannic acid with an iron salt. They came into use around 9th century. This ink was initially transparent and when applied to the parchment, the acid and salt in it chemically reacted, to leave a dark residue that penetrated the paper and left permanent markings. Gum Arabic was added as a water-soluble thickener, to improve the ink’s flow and longevity.
In 1772, the first patent for making colored ink was issued in England. By 19th century, chemical drying agents came into existence, thus making the use of a wide variety of pigments for colored inks possible. Inks based on new ammonia aniline dye technology began to appear in the mid-1800s. These inks could be converted into an unprecedented array of colors that were less corrosive to paper and pens. They were left in the light to fade, as they could smear when still moist. Consequently, varnishes of varying stiffness were developed for inks, to be used for different papers and presses. When high-speed newspaper presses were introduced, the mineral oil got replaced with varnish. The oil-based ink penetrated newsprint rapidly and dried quickly.
With the beginning of the 20th century, making ink had become a complicated, chemical-industrial process. Today, one can find fountain pens and ball point pens in the market. The introduction of home computing gave way to home printing as well. In developed nations, most residences and businesses have a printing capability. Therefore, buying ink in the form of printing cartridges has become a part of the day-to-day shopping experience. Large, official printing companies offer ink refilling services for printer cartridges. This refilling of ink cartridges and use of continuous ink supply systems for inkjet printers is very common in most countries, United States being the exception.