The earliest inks were essentially suspensions of soot (carbon) in a gum. They were very suitable for use with papyrus, which was porous enough to absorb the vehicle and entrap the pigment between the fibers. Under these conditions the writing would be permanent, indelible, and harmless to the papyrus. This type of ink was in common use until the 11th century when IRON-GALL INK began to come into prominence.
The introduction of PARCHMENT as a writing material was probably the reason why an ink other than a carbon-gum solution became necessary. Carbon ink would not adhere to the greasy surface of a material such as parchment, and, in any case, it was too easily removed by sponging. See:PALIMPSEST .
Examination of parchment manuscripts from the 9th to 15th centuries indicate that all were written with iron-gall inks in which no trace of carbon could be found. Carbon inks, however, continued to be used for documents, probably until the advent of the "blue-black" ink period. From these somewhat indefinite beginnings, simple iron-gall inks were the predominant inks until about 1860, when the introduction of aniline dyes brought about radical changes in ink manufacture, stemming largely from the fact that in the case of an ANILINE INK , the need for partial oxidation of the ink no longer existed. i Since then the manufacture of ink has become extremely complicated.
Most modern inks are manufactured to overcome one or more of the disadvantages inherent in blue-black inks, including their acidity, muddiness, and less than adequate permanence. When considering permanence it is important to distinguish between printing inks and writing inks, because, as prepared today. the former are more permanent than the latter. Writing inks, having a high degree of permanence, can be made to meet special requirements, but such inks are harmful to the fountain pens. In general, the introduction of writing inks colored with an aniline dye has made the typical modern writing ink less permanent than its predecessor of a century earlier. The stability of good quality printing ink, on the other hand, is such that it usually outlasts the paper, and this is as permanent as it need be. See also: CARBONACEOUS INKS ;CARBON INK ;CHINESE INK ;COLORED INKS ;PRINTING INKS ;SEPIA INKS .
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