Historical ink types

There are three types of historical ink:

1. iron gall inks,

2. blue wood inks,

3. Colored inks.



All three inks were available as both writing and copy inks.

But what did "copying" mean during the imperial era ...



The source for the following explanation is Wikipedia:

Copying press; the historical background

Since 1862, the General German Commercial Code required all merchants to keep a “copy or transcript” of the commercial letters they sent. In order not to have to copy the originals, mechanical copying machines were used. The copying press was used in many offices well into the 20th century.

How the copying press works

The document to be copied, described with special ink, was placed on a sheet of wax paper and covered with unsized tissue paper, which was either moistened beforehand or in turn covered with a piece of damp cotton fabric. Finally, another sheet of wax paper was placed on it and the whole thing was subjected to high pressure between the two metal plates of a tightly-tightened screw press (in which numerous layers of copy material could also be pressed at the same time). The ink was loosened by the moisture and penetrated through the tissue paper, so that the writing on the back was correctly visible.

With good copy ink, about three prints can be made. Up to 20 prints can be made using highly concentrated ink and tissue paper soaked in special solutions. After the copying process, the tissue paper can be stuck to thicker paper so that the copy is easier to read and more durable.


Source: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopierpresse


Inks 2001, 3001, 4001, 5001, 6001

Fountain pen ink 4001

Inks have been specially designed for fountain pens that do not corrode and work well in the fine mechanics of fountain pens. The Pelikan Ink 4001 brand name was first mentioned in 1901. Later, probably for marketing reasons, it became the modern ink type "4001".

Blue-black was designed as a particularly light iron gall ink, which is bluish when wet, but darkens afterwards. An “unlimited duration” and insensitivity to light were specified for the durability (catalog 1938).

As usual, the colored inks are not suitable for long shelf life or copies, but are uncomplicated writing inks.

Copy ink is a copyable variant of the blue-black.








copying ink


Colored ink

Flow-friendly and brilliant dye inks. Weakly copyable.

The somewhat more expensive red copy ink was intended as the copyable colored ink.








Red copy ink


Violet saloon ink

Technically, probably similar to colored ink.


Iron gall ink 2001

Iron gall ink that writes and dries in black.


Strong copy ink 3001

A violet blue wood ink, which darkens black, was sold under the type 3001. "Makes 3 to 5 copies on the copying machine" (catalog 1938). Copying does not mean today's Xerox process, but the xxx process, which placed special demands on the original to be reproduced.


Book and writing ink 4001 (historical version)

Under the 4001 type, a “real iron gall ink” (catalog 1938) was originally sold, which flows bluish and dries black. It should be uncomplicated to use and document-proof - that means insensitive to light and age. It is not related to the modern 4001.


Book and copy ink 5001

Under the 5001 type, copyable (2 to 3 copies possible) iron gall ink was sold, which darkens black.

The 5001 K grade was also available. As a strong iron gall ink, it is not suitable for books, but can be copied even better.

Copy ink 6001

A purple copy ink was sold under the type 6001, which gives “5 to 6 clear copies” (catalog 1938). Also available more copying than 6001 K. Wasn't meant for books.


German Reich ink

Iron gall ink that writes bluish and dries black.


Kaiser ink

Blue wood ink that writes violet-black and darkens strongly when it dries.



Blue wood ink that writes violet-black and darkens strongly when it dries. Possibly marketed as a suitable ink for the Rappen fountain pen.


Check ink

Deep black ink for securities that require special chemical and physical resistance, such as checks or shares.



Office inks 626, 628 and 629

Eisengall inks for mass office and school use, which flow black (629) or black-blue (626, 628) and dry black.

• 626 - bluish school ink

• 628 - bluish office ink

• 629 - black school ink


Office inks 630 and 633

Blue wood inks for mass office and school use, which flow violet-black and darken black when drying.


• 630 - black office and office ink

• 633 - black school ink



Special purpose inks

Even before the Second World War, Pelikan offered an extensive range of several special inks, some of which survived until the post-war period. This included a large number of technical inks, the intended use of which was later replaced by other writing methods or which were intended for use in apparatus. Pelikan offered to determine the most suitable ink variant by sending in a sample (e.g. Catalog 1964, p. 17).


• Red Markana Ink - for writing on greasy paper, on sheet metal, and on other surfaces where normal ink tends to pearl. The name Markana was later used for felt-tip pens.

• Hotel ink - dark blue dye ink that can be washed out of textiles. Later probably replaced by the 4001 royal blue.

• All-weather ink - black, weatherproof ink for rough outdoor use.

• Waterproof liner ink - for drawing writing lines in business books and exercise books that does not run and is indelible. Available in five colors (black, blue, red, green and violet). Obviously later out of fashion due to lined notebooks.

• Cut color - made for bookbinders for coloring book cuts. Available in four colors (red, blue, light green, dark green).

• Colored school ink - ink intended for art lessons, available in six basic colors (vermilion, blue, yellow, black carmine, burnt sienna). The "ink" in the name does not refer to real ink, but to the colloquial term "ink" for painting with liquid colors of any kind.

For more, see special inks