top of page

The Flat Cap on ... Ink

Today The Flat Cap has been looking at ink as well as paying a visit to a local stationers to find out more about the various types of inks, their uses and history.

The Flat Cap on Quink

According to Darren who works part time at Cartridge World ink dates back to prehistoric times, and local artists would draw on the walls of caves using a type of ink. In those days there were no spray cans and you could normally tell what things were meant to look like. Animals were a popular theme and historians have come up with various theories as to why. Some reckon the animals on the walls are like the menus we see in Burger King or McDonalds. Diners would go into the fast food cave, point at the bear, deer, bison, or whatever and then be dished up that type of burger. Potatoes hadn’t been invented then so you couldn’t add fries to your order. Other scholars reckon the animals served the same purpose as the horse racing screens you see in modern bookmakers, and were there to lure in punters who wanted a bet on the Mammoth Derby at Market Rasen, or the 4:30 Buffalo Stakes at Beverley. Another explanation is that the caves were actually art galleries, and operated a strict dress code. As well as animals archaeologists have found drawings of matchstick men, and matchstick cats and dogs. In those days burly cavemen stood outside the various venues denying admission to those who were not suitably attired. So if you wore trainers or jeans in 40,000 BC there was very little chance you could get into The Cavern.

As technology developed so did ink and generations of schoolchildren were introduced to inkwells, fountain pens and blotting paper. Perhaps the most famous of these inks was “Quink”, a portmanteau word from quick and ink because it soon dried and was consequently less messy. Nevertheless you could still injure your enemies with the nibs of fountain pens and send them home from school with a stained shirt. “Quink” was made by the Parker Pen Company. When sales began to decline Parker ended up taking employment as a butler and chauffeur for Lady Penelope and got bossed about a fair bit.

In the 1940s and1950s clinical psychologists claimed they could determine people’s personalities from how they interpreted different shaped ink blots. The ink blot test relied on a trained mental health professional to analyse the subject’s responses when he or she was shown various shaped ink blots. The Flat Cap’s great uncle Norman was sectioned following one of these tests in which he gave answers such as, ‘that’s a revolver like I used to fire in the war’, ‘that’s definitely a bomb’, ‘that’s an axe, a proper sharp axe, like you might use to chop up dead bodies’, ‘a bottle of poison mate’, ‘it looks like a hangman’s noose’, ‘it’s a blood stained dagger’, ‘it’s shaped like a heavy spanner’, ‘that’s a smoking gun’, ‘that’s a cosh’, ‘another gun’, ‘a piece of lead piping; you could do some damage with that’, ‘a rope like you’d strangle someone with’, ‘a big candlestick’. Uncle Norman was released twelve years later after it was confirmed he merely had an unhealthy obsession with the board game Cluedo.

In spite of the various advancements in knowledge and learning over thousands of years ink is wasted in so many ways so The Flat Cap went round some of his neighbours to canvass their own views on what are the biggest wastes of ink. In no particular order the top ten answers are listed below

  • Ballot forms

  • The British Citizenship Test

  • Tabloid newspapers

  • Letters to the local council that nobody reads, because if they did the pavement outside number 47 wouldn’t be so uneven

  • Bus timetables that bear no relation to the realities of travelling on public transport

  • The vast majority of all lottery tickets

  • Degree certificates that you can buy online from universities that don’t really exist

  • Photographs of Gary Barlow

  • The assembly instructions for flat pack furniture

  • Anything you receive from political parties, especially in the run up to elections

bottom of page