Did you know that inks and medicine are kindred spirits? Let me try to paint a picture.
“Pharmaceutical ink” is an ingestible form of water-based ink used in medicine pills to indicate the drug name or number of milligrams. First patented in the US in 1966, it’s ingredients include methyl alcohol, shellac, titanium dioxide and propylene alcohol, some of the solvents that also make up writing ink. As well, India ink is used in pathology laboratories, and applied to surgically removed tissue specimens to indicate tumor resection margins, and ensure that no portion of the malignant growth extends beyond the marked edges of the tissue.
Ordinary writing ink itself was common merchandise in US drugstores at the turn of the century. Bottled ink, ink blotting paper and even fountain pens were routinely sold by apothecaries in many small-town pharmacies across America.
While no historical evidence so far gives us a clue, it is not entirely inconceivable that inks were also dispensed in Manila drugstores during both the Spanish era and the American regime, along with pills, injectibles, cosmetics, perfumes and medical equipment.
Today’s contemporary inks find a temporary home in these Philippine vintage medicine bottles of the Laboratorio Santos-Ocampo (pre-war era), Botica Insular (1890s), Farmacia Manuel Zamora (early 1900s) and Lambert Pharmacal Co.’s “Listerine” (pre-1920s).
(featured image: Ink specimens(left to right) are – Private Reserve “Purple Haze,” Rotring Brilliant “Turquoise,” Noodler’s “Dragon’s Napalm,” Caran D’Ache’s “Delicate Green,” Pelikan’s “Brilliant Red,” Diamine’s “Espresso,” J Herbin’s “Corail Des Tropiques,” KWZ’s “Cappuccino,” Robert Oster’s “Hot Pink,” and Athena’s “Black.”)
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