Old fashioned printing: ink

Ink for the rolling-press is made of linseed-oil, burnt just as for common printing-ink, and is then mixed with Frankfort black, finely ground. There are no certain proportions, every workman adding oil or black to suit. Good ink depends most on the purity of the oil, and on its being thoroughly burned. Test it occasionally by cooling a drop on the inside of an oyster-shell; feel it between the thumb and finger, and if it draws out into threads, it is burnt enough. Weak oil well charged with black is called stiff ink. Oil fully burned and charged with as much black as it will take in, is termed strong ink. The character of the engraving to be printed determines which is suitable. It is cleaned out with spirits of turpentine.

_Another Method._

Instead of Frankfort, or other kinds of black commonly used, the following composition may be substituted, and will form a much deeper and more beautiful black than can be obtained by any other method. Take of the deepest Prussian blue, 5 parts, and of the deepest colored lake and brown pink, each 1 part. Grind them well with oil of turpentine, and afterwards with the strong and weak oils in the manner and proportion above directed. The colors need not be bright for this purpose, but they should be the deepest of the kind, and perfectly transparent in oil, as the whole effect depends on that quality.


Ten or 12 galls. of nut or linseed-oil are set over the fire in a large iron pot, and brought to boil. It is then stirred with an iron ladle; and whilst boiling, the inflammable vapor arising from it either takes fire of itself or is kindled, and is suffered to burn in this way for about 1/2 hour; the pot being partially covered so as to regulate the body of the flame, and consequently the heat communicated to the oil. It is frequently stirred during this time that the whole may be heated equally; otherwise a part would be charred, and the rest left imperfect. The flame is then extinguished by entirely covering the pot. The oil, by this process, has much of its unctuous quality destroyed; and when cold is of the consistence of soft turpentine; it is then called varnish. After this, it is made into ink by mixture with the requisite quantity of lampblack, of which about 2 1/2 oz. are sufficient for 16 oz. of the prepared oil. The oil loses by the boiling about 1/8 of its weight, and emits very offensive fumes. Several other additions are made to the oil during the boiling, such as crusts of bread, onions, and sometimes turpentine. These are kept secret by the preparers. The intention of them is more effectually to destroy part of the unctuous quality of oil, to give it more body, to enable it to adhere better to the wetted paper, and to spread on the types neatly and uniformly.

Besides these additions, others are made by the printers, of which the most important is a little fine indigo in powder, to improve the beauty of the color.

_Another Method._

One pound of lampblack ground very fine or run through a lawn sieve; 2 oz. of Prussian blue ground very fine; 4 oz. of linseed oil, well boiled and skimmed; 4 oz. of spirit of turpentine, very clear; 4 oz. of soft varnish, or neat's-foot oil. To be well boiled and skimmed; and while boiling the top burned off by several times applying lighted paper. Let these be well mixed; then put the whole in a jug, place that in a pan, and boil them very carefully 1 hour.

_A Fine Black Printing ink._

Less turpentine and oil, without Prussian blue, for common ink.

_Best Printing-Ink._

In a secured iron pot (fire outside when possible), boil 12 galls. of nut or linseed-oil; stir with iron ladle, long handle; while boiling put an iron cover partly over; set the vapor on fire by lighted paper often applied; keep stirring well, and on the fire 1 hour at least (or till the oily particles are burnt); then add 1 lb. of onions cut in pieces, and a few crusts of bread, to get out the residue of oil; also varnish, 16 oz.; fine lampblack, 3 oz., ground indigo, 1/2 oz. Boil well 1 hour.

_Good Common Printing Ink._

Take 16 oz. of varnish, 4 oz. of linseed-oil well boiled, 4 oz. of clear oil of turpentine, 16 oz. of fine lampblack, 2 oz. of Prussian blue, fine, 1 oz. of indigo, fine. Boil 1 hour.

_Printers' Red Ink._

Soft varnish and vermilion with white of eggs not very thick. Common varnish, red lead and orange. Colcothar is indelible.


Prussian blue and a little ivory-black with varnish and eggs very thick. Common indigo and varnish; then wash off with boiling lees.


Sesquioxide of chromium (chrome green). This is the ink used in printing Greenbacks. It is indestructible, and cannot be photographed.

_Perpetual Ink for Inscriptions on Tombstones, Marbles, etc._

This ink is formed by mixing about 3 parts of pitch with 1 part of lampblack, and making them incorporate by melting the pitch. With this composition, used in a melted state, the letters are filled, and will, without extraordinary violence, endure as long as the stone itself.

_Ink for Writing on Zinc Labels._

Horticultural ink.--Dissolve 100 grs. of chloride of platinum in a pint of water. A little mucilage and lampblack may be added.

Another.--Mix thoroughly 2 parts (by weight) verdigris, 2 of sal ammoniac, 1 of lampblack, and 30 of water. Always shake well before using, and write with a quill pen. Writings made on zinc with this ink will keep many years.


Let ivory or lampblack be mixed with a small portion of Prussian blue or indigo, for a blue-black, and let the same blacks be united with raw or burnt umber, bistre, vandyke or any other brown, instead of the blue, for a brownblack. These should be mixed together in a weak gumwater (perhaps matt-work would answer the purpose better), first levigating them very fine, in common water, on a marble slab. When dried to the consistence of a paste, let the glutinous matter be well mixed with them; that will be found sufficiently strong, which binds the composition so as to prevent rubbing off by the touch. Indian-ink drawings should be handled as lightly as possible. Too much gum in the composition will create an offensive gloss.

_Another Method._

Isinglass, 6 oz.; and 12 oz. of soft water; make into size; add 1 oz. of refined liquorice, ground up with 1 oz. of genuine ivory-black, and stir the whole well. Evaporate the water in balneum maria, and form the sticks or cakes.

_A Substitute for Indian-ink._

Boil parchment slips or cuttings of glove-leather in water till it forms a size, which, when cool, becomes of the consistence of jelly; then, having blackened an earthen plate, by holding it over the flame of a candle, mix up, with a camel-hair pencil, the fine lampblack thus obtained with some of the above size, while the plate is still warm. This black requires no grinding, and produces an ink of the same color, which works as freely with the pencil, and is as perfectly transparent as the best Indian-ink.

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