What gives ink its different colors

The history of ink and its manufacture

A rubbing of soot and gum and water was used in Greece under the name (Greek) black ink, in Italy as atramentum scriptorium in addition to the sepia ink prepared from the juice of the squid.

But colored inks were also in use, especially red from Minium for headings and initial letters and also the sacred purple ink sacrum encaustum, which was obtained from the juice of two types of snail or conchyllium, the purpura or pelagia and the buccinum or murer. This ink, the dye of which was probably indigo, was only allowed to be used by the Byzantine emperors; everyone else was forbidden to use it on the death penalty.

Gold writing also played a very important role in antiquity, and chrysography, or gold writing, became a widespread handicraft that was eagerly practiced even by Eastern Roman emperors as a hobby. Either the entire script was written on purple parchment in gold ink, such as the holy writings of the Jews for Ptolemy Philadelphus, or only the heading and the rest of the text in silver ink, such as Ulfilas' translation of the Bible in the famous Codex argenteus.

That a kind of iron gall ink was already known in antiquity goes from a communication by Philo of Byzantium from the 2nd century BC. About a secret script that consisted of writing with gall-apple solution, letting it dry and then wetting the script with a solution of an iron-containing copper salt.

The black soot ink usually used, however, did not adhere firmly to parchment and papyrus; it was easy to wash off and scrape off and, at its high price, took advantage of this by writing on the document again after removing the first writing. Such manuscripts are known as palimpsets, they often form the most valuable pieces in our archives.

Unfortunately, however, many of them have faded and rotten in the course of time, have become difficult to read or have already completely disintegrated; the same applies to many simply described manuscripts. Since these are often documents of the highest historical value, which are irreplaceable, this already shows the importance that is to be attached to the durability of the writing materials to be used for documents.

The fact that the soot ink did not adhere firmly to the writing material, easily crumbled off by itself and could easily be removed was probably the main reason, along with its poor writing ability, why it gradually had to give way to the more and more naturalized iron gall ink. As early as the 3rd century AD, according to Graux, it was rarely used on parchment, and it has usually not been used since the 15th century.

Iron gall ink, on the other hand, became more and more popular in the Middle Ages, with the introduction of paper instead of parchment and papyrus having a major impact. They soon began to work out rules for their preparation; Good ink was a very sought-after item, and the monks in particular did a great job of making it, whose occupation also primarily included written work.

In the “Schedula diversarum artium” of the presbyter Theophilus in the 12th century, but especially in the “Liber illuministarium” collected at Tegernsee around 1500, we find a multitude of regulations for the preparation of inks of all kinds.

In the 16th and 17th centuries it was especially Italians, mostly doctors, to whom we owe records of this.

Among them are primarily Cardanus alerius, Pedemontanus, Porta and Caneparius, of which the latter wrote a thick book "De atramentis cuiuscunque generis" (On inks of all kinds).

In addition, the great English natural scientist Robert Boyle provided various explanations about the chemical reactions taking place in the inks, as did Otto Tachenius and Lemery. Father and Son, have studied the chemistry of ink.

An in-depth systematic study of writing inks was then published in 1763 by the Englishman William Lewis, followed by the French Ribaucourt in 1792 with an equally detailed work.

The discovery of gallic acid by Scheele and of tannin by Deneur enabled important explanations about the chemical nature of the tannic and gallic iron that forms in the gallus ink, which we have given a number of German, English and French naturalists, as well as the great Swedish chemist Berzelius owe them.

In 1855 August Leonardi began the production of the alizarin ink, as the first representative of the modern iron gall ink, and ten years later the aniline or tar color inks appeared on the market as one of the achievements which can be attributed to the powerful development of the tar color ink. Industry has to thank.

But also the durability of the official documents and the possibility of their forgery was paid attention by authoritative sources in the 19th century.

In the first half of the same, the French government had extensive investigations carried out in order to gain possession of ink and paper, which were supposed to offer the greatest possible security against the perishability of age as well as the often occurring attempts at forgery, and towards the end of the same In the twentieth century, the Prussian government also took steps to prevent the premature expiry of the documents as far as possible.

She was prompted to do this by suggestions from professional circles, and the August Leonardi company played a major part in this. In several petitions to the Reich Chancellor and other competent Reich and Prussian authorities, in the interest of the durability of the documents, the same asked for the introduction of official principles for ink testing, and by your chemists to carry out detailed studies on the chemistry of inks according to strictly scientific principles For the same reason, have professional methods published for testing the inks for their documentary value.

At this point the modern ink was born. Further developments in writing and, in particular, printing technology prompted the ink manufacturers to develop a high-tech liquid over the years, the further development of which continues to this day. Ink is produced in many places today. The real ink development, however, remains carried out by a few companies. As in all branches of industry, development is one of the most cost-intensive areas of business.