The Inks of De La Rue & Co.
and their introduction of synthetic and aniline ingredients c.1850–1910

By Peter Young FRPSL

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Retail price £59, Members Price £53.


Peter Young

432-page hardback (ISBN 978-1-913015-09-1)

Identification of bank notes, stamps or postal stationery is primarily by colour, as are labels for grocery products, railway tickets, or other paper ephemera. Obviously, printing on them may spell out their denominations or reasons to exist, but it is colour that the eyes identify first. But that is determined by the inks used which, in turn, are determined by their ingredients and recipes. Yet the subject of inks has been the least studied aspects in printing history despite some shades of colour being more eagerly sought by collectors than others. 
The book starts with a general outline of printing in the second half of the century to provide an insight into the innovative methods and techniques of the De La Rue company, and puts their use of synthetic dyestuffs into context. Ink production by the company is then considered, especially their development of pigments from dyes, and how they used additives, paper, printing presses and plates. Discussion follows of the recipe ledgers, of their colour trials and samples, stability experiments and fading, their postmarking inks for the Post Office, and of fluorescence or ‘bleeding’ of their aniline inks. Finally, a gazetteer, an index of the ingredients and an extensive general index aid collectors. The second half of the book, though, details the recipes, ingredients, varnishes or oils, quantities and ink-makers comments of nearly 2500 inks and as such makes the book a notable work of reference.
This, then, is the first study to consider De La Rue & Co.’s inks in detail, and their choice and application from an historical, scientific, economical, and manufacturing point of view, and uncovers their ‘secret’ ingredients – especially for their Unique Selling Point, their Fugitive inks. It should appeal to both philatelists, notaphilists , or collectors of ephemera, as well as printers and social historians wanting to know more about printed products in previous ages.

 After graduating in Pharmacy from Bristol in 1962, Peter focused on drug addiction in Chester and mid-Cheshire, as well as developing an consultancy advising major supermarkets on their NHS contracts, and acting in courts and at oral hearings on their behalf. After selling his last pharmacy and retiring in 1997, he took up walking, undertaking walks of over fifty miles a day, and climbed all our recognised mountains. In between, he studied for higher degrees at Liverpool University in Geology and Victorian Studies (Art and Architecture), eventually graduating with a PhD in History.
After dabbling in many collecting areas during his teens in Bournemouth, he started to focus on ephemera. A philatelic exhibition in the Guildhall in July 1966 where displays of De La Rue’s Surface Printed issues, especially their brightly coloured Jubilee Issues, were to decide his main collecting interest, part of his collection of proof material being displayed to the Royal Philatelic Society, London, in 2007. 
His first published item was at the age of 11, since when he has published widely on many subjects. His first philatelic study appearing in the GB Journal of the Great Britain Philatelic Society in 1968, and numerous studies of De La Rue’s methods and products followed. He has been the ‘Victorian Surface Printed Consultant’ for that society for fifty years, with correspondents throughout the world. Over the years, many have asked him to authenticate some shade or other - but he always declines to do so.

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Glossary vii 
Part 1 – General Introduction
-Chapter 1 – Victorian Inks and Printing on Paper
-Chapter 2 – The Primary and Secondary Sources
Part 2 – History and the People
-Chapter 3 – The Genesis of Synthetic Inks
-Chapter 4 – The Firm of De La Rue & Co.
-Chapter 5 – The Printing Activities of De La Rue & Co.
-Chapter 6 – The Hugo Muller – Heinrich Caro Correspondence.
Part 3 – Technical aspects of De La Rue’s Inks
-Chapter 7 – Paper, Printing Presses and Plates
-Chapter 8 – The All-Important Vehicles and Varnishes
-Chapter 9 – The Production of De La Rue’s Inks.
-Chapter 10 – Security Aspects: Dusting and Fugitive Inks
-Chapter 11 – The ‘makings’ of Cochineal Dyes, Pigments and Inks
-Chapter 12 – Notes on some coloured inks and their ingredients
Part 5 – Standards, Tests and Sales of Inks 
-Chapter 13 – Printer’s Samples and Ink Exports 
-Chapter 14 – Testing Inks for their Suitability 
-Chapter 15 – Post Office Obliterating Inks
Part 6 – Other Aspects of the Inks 
-Chapter 16 – Fluorescence
-Chapter 17 – The Recipe Books and their Inconsistencies
-Chapter 18 – The larger picture
-Chapter 19 – A Gazetteer of De La Rue’s ink recipes for postage and security printing. 
End Matters 
-Appendix The Ingredients and Ink Recipes of De La Rue & Co. 
-Index of ingredients to recipes shown in the Appendix 
-Main Index

Sample pages (click one to enlarge)