More On Ink

My husband tells me that in 1957 when he and his fellow-pupils were issued with dip pens the big bottle the teacher filled their inkwells from was Stephens Blue/Black. Later, when there were still shops that sold ink there was a choice: Parker Quink Blue or Parker Quink Black.

Since then there has been an explosion in the inks available. What used to be fountain pen discussion boards are now mostly devoted to talking about inks. I like ink and have quite a few bottles, old and new but for practical purposes I don’t use many: Quink or Aurora Blue, BSiAR or Diamine Oxblood for red and Herbin Lierre Sauvage for green. They stand out well on the textured paper I prefer for correspondence. I don’t have much use for pale, shy and retiring inks. I like the simplicity of Indian ink for my dip pen.

Chinese calligraphers were even more simple in the ink they used. They used lamp black (soot) with a binder. This came in the form of an ink stick which was rubbed on an ink stone with water. It was part of the calligrapher’s art to work the ink up to the correct consistency.

I suppose it’s worth saying that Chinese calligraphers traditionally used a brush to create their characters rather than a pen but at least they share the use of ink and paper with us.

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