Ink. A product that is used world wide every day by billions of people. Yet it is rarely given a second thought. Perhaps that is a true testament to a product that has radically changed the course of human history.

Early inks were made from natural materials such as berries, bark and soot. ( Ever write with the end of a burnt stick? ) Certainly used by the ancient Egyptians and Chinese as early as 2500 B.C., ink, in my opinion predates even these cultures. The remarkable cave drawings of North American Natives, as well as other World Native cultures, utilized a substance that can rightfully be called ink. Since these early times the substance we call ink has changed dramatically. Now made from synthetic chemicals, ink comes in a wide variety of types and colours, ranging from the common disposible ball point to the amazing colour possibities of the ink in your printer.

Even more fasinating then the developmnent of ink, is the array of containers used to hold it. As the use of ink by the general public became widespread, the common container was made of pottery. These pottery bottles were, for the most part, imported to North America from the United Kingdom. Soon after the turn of the 19th century, American glass houses started producing glass bottles for ink, as did manufacturers in other parts of the world. And it wasn't long before the imagination of the glass blowers took hold and a delightful array of ink containers arrived on the market.

The area of ink bottle collecting is vast, and is made even more inviting to collectors as a nice collection can be made by those with limited space. Inks come in a variety of colours, from the common aqua through shades of amber, cobalt and clear. As with other bottles, the rarer clours, such as cobalt, will command a higher price. As well as pleasing colours, the shapes of ink bottles are varied and quite pleasing to the eye. Over the years, collectors have given names to the shapes of inks. These include umbrella, teakettle, dome and figurals, to name a few. Rather then try to desribe each shape, I'll try to find a representative of each type. They'll be pictured as I find them. When collecting inks, don't forget the master inks. These bottles are larger then the inks used for everyday use. Holding a large quantity of ink, they were used for dispensing the product into smaller containers. The masters, especially cobalt, can be very pricey. There are also many nice related items that can be collected along with inks. Pens are a good example. Below is an example of an early pen (early 1900's) from my personal collection, manufactured by A.H.Woodward, Birmingham. So if you haven't decided on a collecting area, (altough I don't think we have a big choice in that decision, it just seems to happen) check out the inks.

Umbrella Sheared Barrel Faceted Circus Tent Cobalt Octagon

Black Glass Figurals Flasks Case Gins Bitters Mineral/Soda

3D BOTTLES: A different view
LINKS A variety of bottle related sites.
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