Carbon ink

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Black wash over graphite
MFA# 1996.322


Black ink and wash
MFA# 50.3888

A black ink containing powdered Carbon pigment. Carbon ink usually contains Lampblack in a dilute aqueous solution of Gum or Glue. Carbon inks were used in China as early as the 3rd millennium BCE (Kuhn 1986). They were also used Egyptian papyrus and medieval manuscripts (Roberts and Etherington 1982). Carbon black inks were replaced with iron gall inks in the 12th century.

Carbon Ink

Synonyms and Related Terms

carbon black ink; Chinese ink; Indian ink; black wash

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in water.

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 410
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989
  • A Glossary of Paper Conservation Terms, Margaret Ellis (ed.), Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York City, 1998