The History of Ink: Including its Etymology, Chemistry, and Bibliography (1860)

This delightful little book — the creation of Thaddeus Davids and Co, one of the largest ink manufacturers of its day — is a wonderful example of form matching content. Not only is the main body text in a kind of a cursive type that points to many hours of labour with pen and ink pot, but the pages are also adorned — in the titles, headers, initials, etc. — with a multitude of typefaces that combine to boast of the sheer variety of their subject's history. As the subtitle indicates, the book comes at ink from a number of different angles, and is full of surprises, including a page (see below) — before the plates at the end — listing different inks ("Blackwood's Black", "Harrison's Columbian", etc.), each written out in that respective brand, and exposed to sun and rain for five months to test their staying power. Needless to say that "Davids and Co Limpid Writing Fluid" stands out amid the competition. The extensive plates at the end are also a delight, providing writing samples from the "oldest Hieratic writing extant — about the 15th century B. C." to "Wellington, April 21, 1834". We are also treated to three pages detailing how more than fifty different languages say the word "ink".

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