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.