Saturday, 22 July 2017

ink inc

The Public Domain Review shares a find from 1860—a publication of New York’s Thaddeus Davids and Company—called The History of Ink, Including its Etymology, Chemistry, and Bibliography that seems like a thoroughly modern, deep-dive portrait of a topic, obsessively specific that one might take for granted.
The effort (almost all the content is hand-written with calligraphy), artistry and scholarship (plate after plate of historic reproductions) that went into producing the little tome excuses the fact that said publishers was also one of the leading ink (which for some inexplicable reason, Davids marketed as “chemical writing fluid”) purveyors at the time. It’s comforting, I think, how signatures are what’s binding, by convention, and that those really important documents, like diplomas and certifications aren’t entrusted to the flawless polish of the printers—or at least made to appear so—and that ink is imbued, either by reputation or in deed, as having an archival permanence that does not easily fade away.