Who invented the ink?

Who Invented Ink? Who invented the ink?

History of ink manufacture. Make your own ink - from antiquity to HP cartridges. The production of ink began in ancient Egypt and to this day ink is an indispensable means of writing for us. Recipes from antiquity to today ...

Long before printing shops or even domestic equipment began to string letter after letter, writing involved laborious work: cave drawings were created in lengthy processes, scripts from the Orient, cuneiform scripts of the Babylonians, using wooden pens on clay and clay, no less.

When papyrus was discovered as a writable material in ancient Egypt, ink became necessary for writing. However, this still involved effort ...

Still, making ink is ultimately not as difficult as one might think. And above all: A handwritten letter with a pen and self-made ink should, strictly speaking, be of much higher value than using conventional Pelikan or HP cartridges ...

The story of the ink

5000 years ago the Egyptians wrote on papyrus with rushes. Black and red inks already existed back then - they were made from soot or earth containing iron oxide, vinegar, water and vegetable gum.

A type of Indian ink, called Indian ink, was created in 1000 BC. Invented in the Far East. This was made from the soot of burnt coniferous charcoal and lamp oil and mixed with a glue made of gelatine, pressed into sticks and dried. The ink stick was rubbed with water until the desired opacity was achieved, a method that has been used in calligraphy to this day.

The Arabs developed the black iron-gallus inks in the 3rd century AD, which are still used today. The first descriptions of the production of such an ink were provided in the same century Philo of Byzantium.

Among the numerous traditional ink recipes there are some whose origins may not seem entirely understandable at first glance:

Sepia is the name of the dark brown dye that still comes from the ink bladder of the sea creature of the same name. After drying, the dye was pulverized in a mortar, and for writing, the powder was mixed with rainwater and the binding agent gum arabic. However, sepia ink was not known everywhere in Europe, only Cicero (106-43 BC) reported it.

In the Middle Ages, some formulations with different colored pigments were developed. For example, arsenic (III) sulfide was used, which was reacted with mercury to obtain a gold-colored pigment. This was intended for particularly splendid and lavishly designed manuscripts, but gold ink made of finely ground gold dust was sometimes used, and people were often content with a substitute.

An original recipe for making one can be found in a manuscript from the Heidelberg University Library from the 16th century (Codices Palatini germanici 489, volume 83 - cf. recipes for making ink).

Cut bird feathers were used as writing implements, which had to be cut regularly with a sharp knife, the penknife, since the hard tip softened over time by the ink and thus became unusable for writing. The spread of quills later also led to the development of thorn-bark ink, which did not dry up as quickly as iron-gallus ink and therefore clogged the pen head less often.

Until the introduction of paper in the 13th century, parchment remained the most important material for writing on. With him came the goose quill and new inks were created based on minerals, plants and animals. Medieval alchemists experimented with soot and powdered minerals, egg whites and wine.

Different shades of inks or dyes were mainly achieved through the use of different minerals and natural substances. A number of native plants were available for yellow, green and blue colors. Presilge, a dye wood from Brazil, often formed the basic material for red colors. From some plants, such as buckthorn, you could even get different colors, depending on which substance was added to the sap.

The black and waterproof iron gallus ink was still considered a writing medium for eternity ...

Iron gall ink consisted of powdered gall apples, iron or copper vitriol, gum arabic and solvents such as water, beer, wine or vinegar.

The only disadvantage of this ink was that when it got older it released sulfuric acid, which dissolved the paper - the so-called ink corrosion arose. For example, many of Johann Sebastian Bach's notes are threatened with decay, as he did not always use good paper and mostly iron-rich ink for his writings, and as a thrifty house father he also made extraordinary use of the individual pages of his music paper.

When the first metal nibs were used from 1750, the ink recipe had to be changed: the salts in the ink soiled the steel nibs that they began to rust after just a short period of use.

The era of standards began in the 19th century: In 1888 the German Chancellery published “The Principles for Official Ink Testing”, which with the addition of 1912 are still valid today. Along with the massive development of modern chemistry at the time, a large number of dyes were discovered and, if possible, also used for writing and painting.

There is a wide range of inks available today for various uses. The invention of automated systems also made inks necessary that combine special properties in order to combine different miscibility and extremely fast drying times.

The production of inks

As a rule, the scribes made inks themselves. In the text “Haimliche und Verborgne Cancellei” (* cf. Box III) around sixty recipes are listed. One of them names the following ingredients:

“Half a measure of water

the other half of a measure of wine

also so vil white vinegar

al then nim pounded six loth galloepfel into small pieces

four loth victril also encountered

four lots of gum arabic put into small pieces "

Some of the liquid should be used to make a brew from the crushed gall apples and after three or four days this should be mixed with the other substances also dissolved in the liquid. After another three days the mixture was strained through a cloth - "So you have good dinner". It took about seven days from the preparation to the straining of the finished ink.

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