Categories
Thoughts on lettering

Happy birthday Mr Biro

The good people at Google inform us that today is the birthday of Mr Biro himself.

Five years ago I published this piece. You may like to have a read. Biro

The patent was later purchased by Mr Bich. Still going strong. I purchased these classic Bic Cristal (medium) a year or so ago in Australia. The motto: ‘Writes First Time, Every Time! Long-lasting dependability and smooth writing. Our Quality Comes In Writing!’ This set was made in Mexico. I have not tested the affirmation…

bic
Bic Cristal ballpoint pen set
Categories
calligraphy

Ink

In this digital age the use of ink is ever restricted, putting aside that used in Biro’s and the like. imagesBy ink I mean that liquid which is put into a fountain pen, or, as described by M. Therese Fisher (The Calligrapher’s Handbook, Faber and Faber, 1983): ‘It must be freely flowing, and be even in colour. It should have a grittiness rather than a stickiness. It should be non-corrosive, non-posinious, not easily erased and non-fermentable’.

According to Fisher there are two ways to make ink. Firstly, mix gum with lamp-black; secondly, treat salts of iron with tannic acid. The latter fades to brown, the former is permanent and does not change in colour.

The Chinese had a method for the preparation of lamp-black. They used distilled water, or rainwater, which was poured over the lamp-black made from the ‘incomplete combustion of oils’. Apparently kept for three years is ideal, rubbing frequently with the hand to preserve the polish.

For Indian ink images-1try this 1825 recipe: ‘Put six lighted wicks in a dish of oil, hang an iron or tin concave cover over it so as to receive all the smoke; when there is a sufficient quantity of soot settled to the cover, then take it off gently with a feather upon a sheet of paper, and mix it with gum tragacanth to a proper consistency. Note: the dearest oil makes the finest soot, consequently the best ink.’

Categories
Brand design

Biro’s pen in post-war Britain

The Biro or ball-point pen is ubiquitous and so cheap today that we don’t spare a thought to its use. Once used it’s thrown away, if lost we don’t despair.

Not so in about 1946 as this advert found in a book published around then (it has no date but from the text I guess it was published soon after the end of the second world war).

The price 55s, the equivalent in sterling of pounds 2.50. From a website I work out that this would be equivalent today to pounds 84.85, making it one fine pen indeed.

No wonder the ad states that refills are available and the whole implement can be serviced. Lovely typography of the trade name.