An Old Rhyming Recipe To Make Ink


The following is a quaint mnemonic of a recipe for making ink which first appeared in John de Beauchesne’s Writing Book, 1602, and quoted in David Nunes Carvalho, Forty Centuries of Ink, 1904:

To make common Ink, of Wine take a quart,
Two ounces of Gumme, let that be a part;
Five ounces of Galls, of Cop’res take three,
Long standing doth make it the better to be;
If Wine ye do want, raine water is best,
And then as much stuffe as above at the least,
If the Ink be too thick, put Vinegar in,
For water doth make the colour more dimme.


About Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. I blog at You can find me on Twitter @EdmarkLaw and Facebook. My email is
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15 Responses to An Old Rhyming Recipe To Make Ink

  1. Ahh…a thINKing post! (ʃ⌣́,⌣́ƪ)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome! I was also surprised that wine is the main ingredient. I guess it’s because it stains well 😀


  3. Abigail says:

    Would writing be limited to only black ink in the times of de Beauchesne, or could one dye it, as artists would paint?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting. I didn’t one could make ink with wine.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That is quite quaint.
    But I would love to know what are Galls and Cop res

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cop’res must be copperas or ferrous sulphate while gall is either Allepo gall (gall harvested from Allepo oak leaves) or iron gall (made from tannic acid and iron salts). I’m not sure which though since I don’t have access to the original book though both were used for making ink.

      Anyway, Shakespeare had a line about galls in his Twelth Night III, 2:

      “Go write it in a martial hand; be curst and brief;
      it is no matter how witty, so it be eloquent, and
      full of invention; taunt him with the license of
      ink; if thou thou’st him thrice, it shall nor be
      amiss; and as many lies as will lie on a sheet of
      paper, although the sheet were big enough for
      the bed of Ware in England, set ’em down; go,
      about it. Let there be gall enough in thy ink,
      though thou write with a goose pen, no matter:
      about it.

      The gall here also methaporically means poison.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Jason Frels says:

    Or, go find yee in the deep blue sea an octopus or three.

    Liked by 4 people

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